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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Four Mercenaries: Their Bounty – K.A. Merikan
— Taken. Prized. Possessed. Loved. —
Clover is an orphan and has led a tough and chaotic life. No stability. No money. No friends. He trusts no one.
His already miserable life takes a nosedive when he ends up in the hands of a human trafficking gang. Someone has placed a request for a young albino man, and Clover is to become the property of a mysterious buyer who will stop at nothing to satisfy their depraved desire. Clover’s fate seems sealed until four bounty hunters appear to take out his captors and accidentally save him.
The four mercenaries want to move on, but when Clover pleads for protection, they offer it to him at a price. In the beginning, the arrangement is all kinds of shady, but as he gets to know the four men who’ve taken him on a wild ride, his developing feelings might become as dangerous as the elusive buyer.
But can a relationship with four such different men even work? Men who kill for a living? Men so full of contradictions?
Tank. The massive ex-soldier eager to be Clover’s Daddy.
Pyro. Wild, tattooed, with a filthy mouth and an itch for violence.
Boar. Ginger, bearded, a big teddy bear who can turn into a grizzly.
Drake. Dark and dangerous, with a tongue as sharp as his knives.
Can these men provide him with the love and security he craves? Or has Clover made the worst mistake of his life?
THEIR BOUNTY is a dark gay harem contemporary romance, book 1 in the “Four Mercenaries” trilogy. The story contains scenes of explicit violence, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters and lots of scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes.
Themes: abduction, polyamory, mercenaries, bounty hunters, albinism, commitment issues, indecent proposal, dark past, male bonding, human trafficking, size difference, enemies to lovers, danger, alpha male, found family, size difference, distrust, shared, victim and protector
I picked up Their Bounty after reading Our King, Our Master, another poly series that had interesting characters but poor execution. I’m neutral on poly but I wanted to see better examples of how this particular trope can be done.
The four mercenaries are a brotherhood of former soldiers who take on jobs that bring down the bad guys while bringing in the money. On one of their jobs, they stumbled upon a 19-year old orphaned albino kid chained up to be sold to a mysterious buyer.
The kid, Clover, was part of a pick pocket gang ran by a local criminal. He was getting too old and too conspicuous given his unusual looks. Aware that he is a wanted man with no defenses, Clover pretends he has friends waiting for him in New York and negotiates his safe passage to the city in exchange for the men using him while they escort him on their roadtrip.
The leader of the group was Tank, a huge man whom Clover immediately tagged as his Daddy. He’s level-headed and he’s no fool. He knew what kind game Clover was playing but he felt protective of the kid. Tank’s alright but I don’t really go for Daddy kink.
Boar and Pyro are a couple very much in love but sexually incompatible. Boar is a hearts and flowers kind of teddy bear while Pyro is a blue-haired punk with ink and fast bike. Together, they found Clover to be the missing link in their relationship.
Everyone was quite smittened with their new boy. All except Drake. So of course he’s my favorite. I have huge respects for people who are not easily swayed by a pretty face and Drake was the only one who was unimpressed by their new plaything. He kept his distance. He was the only one in their group who thought they should stop spoiling Clover and teach him practical skills. Like self-defense especially with bad guys coming after him.
Drake was the main reason I stuck around. There was something about him, something smoldering behind his frosty exterior. He was the most nuanced of all the characters and therefore the most compelling. He talked some sense into Clover and in doing so revealed deeper hurts he rarely showed his brothers. He was definitely worth winning over especially when the ice did melt bit by bit. He wouldn’t admit it, but I bet he’s Clover’s favorite too.
I really liked how the authors made all of them stand out. It was tricky to find a nice balance between five MCs where each can shine individually and with their love interests. The authors succeeded in doing just that. The men each gave something to Clover who, in turn, gave them what was missing in their lives. It’s what made their 5-person romance work. They were like different puzzle pieces forming a cohesive whole
An oversight by the mercs came back to bite their asses and poor Clover was captured again. Clover was thrown into the very sinister world of human menageries and most definitely not the fun kind. Will he ever see his men again?
Unlike the other poly series where meeting a new character is just prelude to sex, the book had a solid story line that was pulled off well. Even if it was only secondary to the relationship development and group dynamics, the mystery + action-suspense part carried enough weight that added a lot of excitement to the overall plot. I liked how that twist came out of nowhere and threw me for a loop.
Their Bounty falls somewhere between like and love. I had a great time with it but some aspects were not my cup of tea. And TBH, Drake was all I cared about although I liked the other guys just fine. Clover was the one I’m least drawn to. He tended to act like a spoiled brat. And really, for a street kid, I expected better survival skills other than offering sexual favors.
Please do heed the warnings. The book touches upon human trafficking and other sordid crimes. There are some graphic details, enough to give color but not too much to completely gross the reader out. It’s dark but not so much. Probably medium gray on the blackness scale. Some things were somewhat dub-con. Most of the more disturbing aspects were off-page or hinted at.
The song for this book is Sweet Surrender, originally by Sarah Maclachlan. It’s a lazy choice because I have a hard time looking for a song about poly romances. The lyrics kinda fits the way Clover left his miserable life behind and surrendered himself to four dominant people. Turned out to be a pretty sweet deal.
Not outright recommending. I know how most people feel about poly so I say read this if you’re feeling adventurous.
Sharing these face claims from Ele, a GR reviewer because they’re perfect:
Posts on K.A. Merikan here.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.
Crimnal Delights: Taken: Wrong Way Home – K.A. Merikan
— One wrong turn. One right man. —
Colin. Rule-follower. Future doctor. Witness to murder. Captive.
Taron. Survivalist. Mute. Murderer. Captor.
Like every other weekend, Colin is on his way home from university, but he’s taunted by the notion that he never takes risks in life and always follows the beaten path. On impulse, he decides to take a different route. Just this one time. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s the last time he has a choice.
He ends up taking a detour into the darkest pit of horror, abducted by a silent, imposing man with a blood-stained axe. But what seems like his worst nightmare might just prove to be a path to the kind of freedom Colin never knew existed.
Taron has lived alone for years. His land, his rules. He’d given up on company long ago. After all, attachment is a liability. He deals with his problems on his own, but the night he needs to dispose of an enemy, he ends up with a witness to his crime.
The last thing Taron needs is a nuisance of a captive. Colin doesn’t deserve death for setting foot on Taron’s land, but keeping him isn’t optimal either. It’s only when he finds out the city boy is gay that an altogether different option arises. One that isn’t right, yet tempts him every time Colin’s pretty eyes glare at him from the cage.
Themes: prepping, alternative lifestyles, disability, crime, loneliness, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, fish out of water, opposites attract, abduction, Stockholm syndrome, family issues
Genre: Dark, thriller M/M romance
Erotic content: Scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes
Length: ~ 70,000 words (Standalone)
This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and will contain a dark M/M romance.
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.
This story contains scenes of explicit violence, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters.
So the book comes with all these dire warning and promised to be dark but what we really get are bunnies, kittens and animal lovers who stand by their pets come hell or high water. Sure, somebody got an axe to the face and a few more were murdered, but they all deserved it. Like that guy who planned to burn an entire house full of cats. As Lucifer Morningstar would say, there’s a special place in hell for you, buddy.
The real star of the show were Missi and her kittens, who turned things around, kicked the story up a notch and made me warm up to the humans.
As for the humans, well, Colin was a bit none too bright for my liking. Like those horror movie characters, he made a wrong turn and was caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time. He was held inside a cage and his plan was to fuck his way out of captivity. Good luck with that. To his credit, Colin never gives up without a fight. He could be a brat but he really did care about the cats.
Lucky for Colin, his captor, Taron, was an attractive hulk of man who lives in the middle of the woods so putting his plan into action was no hardship. Taron is a prepper who had some enemies out to get his property. He is very territorial, self-sufficient and makes a mean rabbit bacon. He has a soft spot for strays and doesn’t want to go to jail, so quite understandably he couldn’t let go of Colin, who, aside from being a witness to murder, has appealing chestnut eyes, is conveniently gay and most precious of all, knows ASL. The book felt entirely like him. Gruff, intimidating, hard-edged, intense, wild and rough but also with a surprisingly caring side that could give you a case of warm fuzzies.
I wasn’t entirely convinced with Colin’s reasoning during his captivity but maybe that was the point. They weren’t supposed to be 100% rational for the rest of humanity (and who cares really). But Stockholm Syndrome or not, the attraction between Colin and Taron was real and the part where their relationship gradually transformed from captor to partner was believable and executed really well.
Overall, Wrong Way Home falls between like and love. It is written in the usual K.A. Merikan style where huge chunks of the story were devoted to sex scenes and skipping those parts makes things go faster without losing the thread. It took a while for me to feel entirely invested in the story but in the end, it won me over and now, I am entirely convinced Colin and Taron would make it work. Also, the cats were safe which is what really mattered.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
No one would come, because he’d foolishly decided to ‘shake things up a bit’ and take a wrong turn home.”