• book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Bad Behavior Books 5 & 5.5 by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Note: another long post so you can skip to the end for the tl:dr version if you want. looks like this is turning out to be a series review month

    Bad Behavior was one of the best series I’ve read back in 2018. This gritty, partners to lovers, police procedural cemented L.A. Witt and Cari Z‘s status as one of the best writing duos for me. Just when I thought Andreas and Darren’s story was over, we get another awesome installment and a floofy floof short story.

    This is a review of Books 5 and 5.5.


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    Bad Behavior: Protective Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Mark Thibedeau is perfectly happy doing his job in Internal Affairs and going home to his cat. Still, when his assistant wants to set him up on a blind date, he can’t help but be intrigued.

    Dr. Ryan Campbell loves the frenetic pace of working in an emergency department. He likes his life and doesn’t need anyone. But that guy his colleague wants him to meet does sound pretty interesting.

    It’s instant chemistry when they meet—and instant chaos.

    That chaos isn’t just phone calls interrupting dates. When a patient comes into the ED rapidly bleeding out from a gunshot wound, Ryan suddenly finds himself in possession of evidence that could very well put two white cops in jail for killing an innocent black man in cold blood.

    Not sure what else to do, Ryan takes the evidence to the only cop he can trust—Mark.

    Now Mark is investigating a delicate case, and Ryan is a material witness, and putting their fledgling relationship on hold is the least of their problems. Dirty cops stalk Ryan and his colleagues. Higher-ups question Mark’s investigative integrity at every turn. Worse, he’s tugging at threads of a citywide systemic problem of cops getting away with racially motivated murder.

    And there are cops with blood on their hands who will gladly kill to keep that system running.

    CW: Racially motivated violence, white-cop-on-black civilian violence

    This book is #5 in the Bad Behavior series, but can be read as a standalone.


    I read in L.A. Witt‘s post somewhere that Protective Behavior began as series narrator Michael Ferraiuolo‘s suggestion. This book was a pleasant surprise. It’s a story I didn’t realize I wanted because I didn’t really pay that much attention to IA Detective Mark Thibedeau. After learning of its existence, I was like, oh yeah, about time we have a book about Internal Affairs cops.

    We first met Mark in Book 1, Risky Behavior, as the IA detective who thought Andreas was a dirty cop. He and Andreas were both grumpy assholes who butt heads all the time. Andreas’ daughter Erin later worked as Mark’s assistant. She wrangled him into a blind date with a doctor friend, Ryan.

    Mark and Ryan are two very busy men who had no lives outside work. They immediately hit it off but barely got around to their second date, let alone some smexy times, due to ongoing investigations and medical emergencies. They tried. Boy, they really tried but the call of duty always had impeccable bad timing.

    I felt their initial meeting was, deliberately, a conventional blind date, perhaps as a reminder that they were really just ordinary people cockblocked by extraordinary circumstances.

    Some time after they began dating, Mark found himself investigating a suspected murder of a black man by white cops. The more Mark uncovers, the more he realized this could very well be a systemic problem.

    The case was brought to his attention by Ryan. The doctor was the one who attended the victim. The man handed him a recording of the incident as he lay dying . This makes Ryan a witness and thus off limits for any romantic endeavors. It also made him a target of the psycho cops who were looking to get rid of evidence.

    I might have initially overlooked him before but the authors did a good job making Mark a likable character here. He’s not a flash and bang guy. He’s more of a solid, dependable, dogged determination gets the job done kind of guy. He goes home to a spoiled cat. A dead giveaway that this hardened detective is really a softie.

    Ryan’s more of the same, albeit more playful and flirty. Right away, they understood the kind of high stress, demanding job the other man had. They made their relationship work despite those hurdles. I liked that they were kind of low-key compared to the flashier Andreas and Darren because it feels right to their story. I also appreciated that they were both in their 40s and this is not an age-gap romance.

    The story is first and foremost, a police procedural. I really enjoyed this because it’s my first time to read a book that focuses on Internal Affairs. IA investigations are trickier than normal cases. Cops don’t snitch on other cops. Especially their partners.

    The plot was well-written. It was easy to follow but still giving plenty of twists and turns that kept me at the edge of my seat. Any police procedural aficionado would love all the nitty gritty investigative stuff.

    This is a very timely book that reflects real life events, specifically racism and Black Lives Matter. These issues were handled well. I read one review that says the story tries too hard to make a point. I did find some parts repetitive but not preachy.. All in all, gripping and relevant .

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bit

    Soundtrack: Matter
    Artist: For King & Country
    Album: Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.


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    Bad Behavior: Cuddly Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Andreas Ruffner is less than thrilled when his husband and partner, Detective Darren Corliss, announces they’ll be cat-sitting for a couple of weeks. He’s even less pleased when he realizes the cat in question is a large grumpy thing with razor-sharp claws and no regard for personal space.

    When Darren deploys the puppy dog eyes, though, Andreas is powerless to say no, so they’re on kitty detail… and despite his best efforts, Andreas is a sucker for the critter shedding all over his apartment and stealing his husband’s affection.

    It’s only for two weeks. Plenty of time for the cat to get on his nerves, but not nearly enough for her to trick him into falling in love with her. Right?

    This 15,000 word short story is Bad Behavior book 6, and is best read after Protective Behavior. 


    So I mentioned above that Mark goes home to his cat. The cat is Harley, a giant hairy ball of fluff with no regard for personal space. She jumped on an injured Mark and opened his stitches. So she was sent to live with Andreas and Darren for a couple of weeks while Mark recovers.

    This short story is full of adorable cat antics and besotted humans. It is a demonstration of how cats can win over even the most anti-cat person. Witness grizzled detective Andreas being trained by the cunning Harley to become her personal seat cushion, much to the delight of his husband, Darren. Photographic evidence was promptly obtained for posterity.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bit

    Soundtrack: Cuddles
    Artist: The Tired Flames
    Album: Cuddles


    Michael Ferraiuolo was right on the money when he suggested Mark’s book. Protective Behavior certainly added another dimension to the series by giving us a peek at the inner workings of the Internal Affairs Department. It is a solid police procedural tackling real life issues with a gentle, low-steam romance that goes perfectly well with the story’s vibe. Cuddly Behavior is the squishy cherry on top, a veritable catnip to all cat lovers.

    Protective Behavior can be read as a standalone but why stop at one? Experience all the different ways to misbehave in the first four Bad Behavior books: Risky Behavior, Suspicious Behavior, Reckless Behavior and Romatic Behavior.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Protective Behavior and Cuddly Behavior. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    Protective Behavior: US | UK
    Cuddly Behavior: US | UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    Protective Behavior


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  • Uncategorized

    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (September 30, 2020)

    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.

  • Uncategorized

    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (July 22, 2020)

    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.

    Original Rules

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago.
    • Find a book that will be published THIS year.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT year.

    Some slight revision of the rules:

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago
    • Find a book that will be published THIS month.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
  • Uncategorized

    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (April 1, 2020)

    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.

  • Uncategorized

    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: The Rebellion or the Empire?

    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

  • Uncategorized

    MY TOP 10 READS OF 2019

    1. Game Changers: Heated Rivalry – Rachel Reid

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    The ultimate enemies-to-lovers, sports rivalry book. Changed the way I felt about sports romance.

    Review here.

    2. Green Creek: Heartsong – T.J. Klune

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    “I see you.

    Review here.

    3. Leo Loves Aries – Anyta Sunday

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    Slow-burn at its finest. The zing nearly killed me.

    Review here.

    4. Mnevermind Trilogy – Jordan Castillo Price

    Gritty realism. Rollercoaster feels. One of JCP’s best works.

    Review here.

    5. The Vampire’s Club Books 3 & 4 – X. Aratare

    Vampire romance of my dreams.

    Review here.

    6. Left Hand of Calvus – L.A. Witt/Ann Gallagher

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    I said it before, I’ll say it again. INTENSE.

    Review here.

    7. Song of the Navigator – Astrid Amara

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    To say this is a gutwrenching, highly emotional sci-fi love story is an understatement.

    Review here.

    8. Falling Sky – L.A. Witt

    Gritty, unforgettable, cyberpunk romance between a human and a vampire.

    Review here.

    9. Flesh and Bone: Bleed – Joel Abernathy

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    Another shifter romance that tore my heart to pieces.

    Review here.

    10. Soulbound: All Souls Near and Nigh – Hailey Turner

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    Epic! Because this series doesn’t do low-key.

    Review here.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Christmas Homecoming by L.A. Witt

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    The Christmas Angel: Christmas Homecoming by L.A. Witt

    August 1939. Roger Miller and Jack O’Brien have been close since childhood. By the time they realize there’s more between them than friendship, Jack is leaving their sleepy Iowa town for college. But they console themselves knowing he’ll be home for Christmas. Right?

    It is Christmas before they see each other again, but that Christmas comes six years and a world war later. Aged, beaten, and shaken by combat, they’re not the boys they were back then, but their feelings for each other are stronger than ever.

    Neither know the words to say everything they’ve carried since that peacetime summer kiss, though. Even as they stand in the same room, there’s a thousand miles between them.

    But maybe that’s some distance the little angel in Roger’s rucksack can cross.

    The Christmas Angel series books are standalones and can be read in any order.


    I love historical MM stories set during the wartime periods. They are especially poignant and bittersweet usually ending with me blinking back tears.

    Christmas Homecoming is part of The Christmas Angel series, where a carved wooden angel worked its magic to bring people together throughout the years. This novella is the only one in the series I’ve read so far.

    The story starts in 1939 when Germany was about to invade Poland. Roger and Jack were two childhood friends. Jack was about to leave town for the city. Roger was doesn’t know what to do with his life yet but he is sure that he doesn’t want to be a farmer and marry a girl.

    On the day before Jack was about to leave, the two friends decided to take a swim together for the last time. That was when they realized the feelings between the two of them evolved into something else. They shared a kiss. They didn’t see each other again for 6 years.

    This is a beautiful love story between two men at a time when such love was not yet accepted. It is full of yearnings and sweet stolen moments made more precious because it’s taboo. I wanted to hug them and give them their safe space.

    The war tore the two men apart. L.A. Witt deftly inserted details that portrayed the life of soldiers at war-time and after. It made what would otherwise be a sweet but simplistic fairytale more complex and nuanced. The survivors had to deal with PTSD. Roger and Jack were not spared. They each carry with them complicated memories of bombs and the men who kept them company in the lonely nights. My heart went out to Oskar, the spy and Floyd, the pilot. The story did a good job drawing me to these two secondary characters who existed only in memories. I wanted their stories too.

    Admittedly, the middle part did drag a bit but as the story slowly eased its way to the resolution I found myself enjoying it even more. I liked how the author gave Roger a way out of the prescribed path his parents laid out for him. I liked how they found a way to be together. I even found myself interested in the two old codgers who inspired the boys that it’s possible.

    Christmas Homecoming is a touching holiday story I recommend. For a book its length, it’s filled with many interesting characters and intense emotions. It captured the small-town atmosphere, the post-war melancholy and the fervent longings of forbidden lovers. It didn’t make me cry but it did warm my heart.

    P.S.

    L.A. Witt books here

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
    Artist: Dinah Shore
    Album:

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

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    Is It Over Yet? – L.A. Witt

    Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.

    But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.

    And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.

    Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?


    Most romance novels I’ve read go out of their way to avoid cheating. I automatically DNF a book when there’s cheating involving the main couple. So a story that revolved around the issue of cheating and divorce? I don’t think so.

    But this is L.A. Witt we’re talking about here and she specializes in making her MCs go through rings of fire before giving them their HEAs. This is as tough a hurdle as it can get. Despite myself, I was really intrigued. How is she going to convincingly pull off a happy ending for a premise like this?

    Is It Over yet? is about two married men about to split up but hesitated to tell their daughter because they don’t want to ruin her upcoming wedding. The cheating part is off-page and happened months before the story started. I appreciated that the author spared us the details. We only know that this happened when Rhys was at a low point and their marriage was on a rocky patch at that time.

    My knee-jerk reaction to this was to hate the cheater. I was even prepared to do so. But I couldn’t hate Rhys. He didn’t justify his actions. Derek didn’t catch him or even suspected. He confessed voluntarily. Since then, he was beating himself up for his mistake. It was very significantly pointed out that he was sorry for what he did, not because he was caught. I knew his heartfelt apologies were sincere.

    Derek was hurt and angry as to be expected but it was pretty obvious that they still love each other. The ‘romance’ here is certainly different. The USTs have a different vibe from what I’m used to. Not exactly love/hate because I didn’t feel they hated each other. So how do you describe that thing where you want nothing more than to separate from your cheating husband because if not you will end up killing each other but you still find him attractive as fuck?

    The story is a journey to forgiveness. Witt takes us on this very bumpy, highly emotional road trip complete with a playlist and drunken motel sex. I liked both MCs and I was rooting hard for them. They didn’t make it easy for themselves though. They tried truces after truces but always end up at each other’s throats.

    How they finally reach their destination, that of forgiveness and a new beginning, was satisfying and more importantly, convincingly done. I liked that the epilogue was a realistic portrayal of lessons learned and making it work.

    Cheating is still a hard line for me but Is It Over Yet? did a great job making me not only read a book about a broken relationship but also making me enjoy the story. It made me sympathized with the characters. I felt each heightened emotion. I was cheering when they finally danced at the wedding. I have no doubts Rhys and Derek will eventually have their HEA.

    I wouldn’t say I recommend this because this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but do give it a try if you are looking for a second chance romance where the head wants to go but the heart wants to stay.

    P.S.

    L.A. Witt books here

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
    Artist: Bombay Bicycle Club
    Album: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Hostile Ground by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

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    Hostile Ground – L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

    After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club’s security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in a shallow grave.

    To protect the strippers, only gay men can work the club. Ridley, the cold and intimidating head of security, knows exactly how to test potential new hires-including Mahir. From the minute they meet, Mahir and Ridley engage in a dangerous dance of sex and mind games. Mahir needs to find his evidence before Ridley figures out he’s a cop-and before they both grow too close to betray one another.

    As the game goes on, Mahir burrows deeper into the operation, where he learns there’s much more happening than meets the eye . . . and why every cop who made it this far has been silenced with a bullet. 

    Two of my favorite authors collaborating in what promised to be explosive and intense. I know many people gave high ratings and loved it but this one falls between like and love for me.

    There are many elements present that I have come to expect from LAW and Voinov so that might be one reason why some parts were predictable such as Kinza’s involvement, Ridley’s real name, what happened to the boys they used as couriers, etc. This was probably one of the few LAW stories where the surprises were not so surprising. What I was surprised with was that the connection between Mahir and Kinza was not utilized to the max. That was something the authors would normally do to up the ante. I thought Lombardi would recognize those gazelle eyes anywhere OR maybe he just thought all Middle Eastern people look the same. Still, he should have known, he was supposed to be astute. Also, there were too many sex scenes that didn’t do anything to the story and we can only hope Ridley’s office was sound proof what with all their conspiratorial talks and out of control moments in there.

    Those niggles aside, I greatly enjoyed Hostile Ground. Mahir is a detective, assigned to an undercover mission in Lombardi’s strip club which was a front for something more sinister. Mahir who went by Saeed in this mission, is a muslim which makes him a target of racists jokes while his family grudgingly accepts the fact that he is gay. There were many derogatory terms in the story, so be warned but I liked the way Mahir handled these issues like a boss.

    His nephew Kinza was recently outed which caused some conflict with his family. The boy ran away to live with Mahir, who was his favorite uncle. This couldn’t have come at the worst time, the detective was in the middle of his undercover work. Things got even more dangerous when the boy followed him to the club one day and was recruited by Lombardi. The interactions between Mahir and Kinza were some of the best parts of the story. Mahir adored his nephew and would do anything to keep him safe. He nearly panicked and blew the case when he saw his nephew walking inside the club but fortunately, Ridley talked some sense into him AND Kinza was awesome! Boy got nerves of steel. And super smart too! Where other boys would have broken down and panicked, he kept his head. He’ll make a great FBI agent one day.

    Ridley is a man of many personalities. There’s the ice-cold psycho bastard, the man who made sure Mahir got home safe after making him inhale cocaine, the one who who can’t resist fucking the new recruit and more. The more time Mahir spends with the man, the more layers he uncover, even after the case was over.

    The guy with the icy stare behind the dark sunglasses- he could shoot a cop and not blink. The one who’d left Mahir aching all over, and who had seemed just as unhappy as Mahir that they couldn’t continue things, wasn’t murderer. He couldn’t be. Could he? 

    Theirs was a romance between two men in a high stressed environment. It started with insta-lust where they used each other to blow off steam and it gradually evolved into something deeper, solid and more meaningful. The way the romance developed was convincingly executed and the authors happily provided an epilogue.

    The case was a bitch to crack and the whole set-up reminded me of the HongKong movie, Infernal Affairs, where an undercover cop goes so deep he almost didn’t get out. Even though I knew what was coming, I could still feel the suspense. Every goon was keeping an eye on Ridley and Mahir, waiting for them to slip up. Lombardi got Kinza in his clutches. There’s more at stake than Mahir had bargained for. Things begin to escalate and then one day, the goons showed up at Mahir’s doorstep. Shit really hit the fan! Bullets flew, covers blown, and close calls that were too close as the story builds into to its heart-stopping climax. It was, overall, a fun ride with a satisfying conclusion. And although I want to keep them all safe, Mahir isn’t ready to retire just yet. As we speak, they’re preparing for another mission because as Ridley said

    “I like it dangerous.”

    So, a sequel please!

    P.S.

    L.A. Witt books here
    Aleksandr Voinov books here

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Acid Fight
    Artist: Deaf Scene
    Album: Chimera