• book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Death Comes To Main Street by Felice Stevens writing as A.P. Eisen

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    The Paul Monroe Mystery: Death Comes To Main Street – Felice Stevens writing as A.P. Eisen

    In the sleepy town of Thornwood Park, something dark and ugly is brewing….

    Detective Paul Monroe is investigating a routine string of break-ins when the case takes an unexpected turn. Merchants are receiving threats, and things might be more sinister than he originally suspected. Paul’s been on the receiving end of those warnings as well, but he brushes them off, not bothering to mention them to his partner, Cliff until Cliff himself is threatened.

    In fact, Cliff discovers he’s been shut out of quite a few things and confronts Paul, who doesn’t understand the problem. The situation escalates quickly, leaving them at a crossroads, with Cliff conflicted and wondering if he’s an equal partner. Now Paul finds himself not only fighting for the people he’s sworn to protect, but for his relationship and the man who means everything to him.

    When an unthinkable tragedy occurs, it’s a race against time to catch a killer who thinks he’s untouchable and has committed the perfect crime.

    Only…nobody’s perfect.


    I’ve always described The Paul Monroe Mysteries as understated. I’m not sure if it’s the right term but I liked how fuss free the stories are. They avoided grand heroics or any over the top action yet delivered engaging, suspenseful police procedurals and heartfelt romance.

    Death Comes To Main Street is the third installment. I found this darker and gritter than its predecessors. Paul and his work partner, Rob, were investigating a series of robberies, threatening notes and suspected arson that resulted in the tragic death of a close friend. These appeared to be hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. Paul and Cliff also had to deal with homophobic neighbors who were also the main suspects.

    While there are these unpleasantness, this was also, in a way, a happy book. Paul and Cliff’s relationship were as strong as ever. They both had busy, high-stressed jobs but they made it work. They remained solid and in sync even with Cliff’s issues with Paul’s over-protectiveness. They’re comfortable and happy. That really shone through all the negativity.

    Paul took major leaps forward by coming out to his boss and co-workers. I liked that this wasn’t the focus of the story but came about as part of Paul being ready to fully embrace who he is. And I’ve always appreciated how patient and supportive Cliff was about this and everything.

    Being a detective’s boyfriend and having been involved in the last two cases, Cliff could have easily poked his nose in Paul’s new investigations. I’m so glad he did not turn into some kind of amateur sleuth. The story also repeatedly emphasized that Paul does not discuss his cases with Cliff. This is another thing I liked because it showed Paul’s professionalism. Even when his boyfriend was harassed, Paul admirably kept his cool and handled it like the pro he is.

    Cliff’s involvement in the case, albeit through some unfortunate circumstances, happened naturally. The author did a great job letting his character shine even with Paul working closely with another character.

    This series has a good supporting cast. Rob stood out the most because he’s Paul’s partner and best friend. He’s always the first to defend Paul against the stupid and the bigoted. Also, there’s Annabelle who’s not even on page 99% of the time but is strongly felt because Rob always mentions his adored wife. There was the introduction of a new character, Joshua. His appearance added an interesting minor thread to follow.

    This time around, the series amped up it’s procedural by showing us the nitty gritty of the investigation. While realistic and detailed, it moved things at a brisk pace and happily, did not bore us with minutiae.

    The villains were all given so it was a matter of Paul and Rob finding enough evidence to arrest them. I like this approach to mystery because it’s not so common. Usually, we are left to guess the identity of the bad guy. Proving the guilt of the obviously guilty but slippery is interesting as well as satisfying. For me, it reflects real life crime. Wherever we are, there’s always some notorious lowlife who manages to evade arrest despite repeat offenses.

    Death Comes To Main Street gives us the things we love about the series while spicing it up with a tiff and a little more grit. There’s some low-key flash and bang but still a roller coaster of emotions, going from love and passion to grief, fear and anger, to acceptance and relief. Ultimately, it leads us to a happy end but leaves us hanging at the very last second. So not my favorite way to close a story but it does set the next one up nicely.

    P.S.

    Follow Paul as he finds himself with Cliff, stumbles upon dead bodies and catch bad guys in The Paul Monroe Mysteries. The books should be read in order. Check out my review of the first two books below:

    Couldn’t Cheat Death by A.P. Eisen
    Diagnosis: Death by A.P. Eisen

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

    Soundtrack: Walls
    Artist: Stokeswood
    Album: Walls


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    REVIEW: How To Elude A Vampire by Alice Winters

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    VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Elude A Vampire by Alice Winters

    Finn
    When the vampire stalking me sent me a letter, I was prepared for my new life with the man I love to get thrown into chaos. But as the days stretch on and nothing happens, I become determined not to allow that monster to rule my life, and decide that Marcus and I will move on. We can’t always allow the past to haunt us. If that includes pestering Marcus and harassing my fellow detectives, they’d better learn to love it, because I’m not going anywhere even if they like to remind me I’m the only human working in a department filled with vampires. But Marcus loves me for who I am, even if he’s not crazy about the cute pet names I call him like McBitey. Being with him is more than I could have dreamed, and even with the trials thrown in our way, he never fails to make me smile.

    Marcus
    When Finn joined the VRC, I never expected how everything would change. Now that he’s the brightest part of my days, I’m unsure of how I existed without him. Before Finn and I can settle into our new life together, we’re called in as lead detectives when a body is found in the river, and the case soon hits closer to home than we anticipated. I want to be by Finn’s side to keep him safe, but at the same time, Finn’s fighting for the freedom he’s always wanted after being forced to live a life of fear. What I do know is that my future is with Finn, no matter what happens.

    How to Elude a Vampire is the second in the VRC series and contains a display of manly prowess that doesn’t go as desired, reluctant bonding with a new pet, interfering with a snarky Russian’s love life, misuse of office supplies, a vampire with a killer fashion sense but very little game, a total lack of ancient kung fu powers, a feisty human who almost always gets his way and the possessive vampire who adores him.


    How To Vex A Vampire left us with a huge cliffhanger. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I got too excited about the second book and read the reviews. I learned the name of Finn’s stalker is Dollmaker.

    HUGE clue right there.

    So I spent the sequel anticipating the big reveal because I knew I was right.

    I was!

    Far from feeling that the book was predictable, I was actually enjoying it more because knowing this guy was close to Finn most of his life only made it more sinister. Mostly, I wanted to see how it would play out.

    How To Elude A Vampire picks up six months after the events in the first book. Marcus and Finn are happy and have everything they need excerpt for that looming threat. They are now staying with Finn’s father, Orin, because his house is the most secure. Or so they thought.

    A series of murders connected to the Dollmaker, attacks right inside Orin’s house, more warnings from the stalker to quit the VRC, and overly protective vampires drove Finn up the wall. He’s tired of living in fear and feeling controlled.

    Nightmares that were actually memories revealed past events that led to Finn losing his arm and leg. We finally learn about Finn’s past as well as the history of vampires.

    I loved how the vampires rally to protect Finn. My boy Karsyn grumps his way through the book but you could tell he’ll die for his human friend if needed. There’s a great addition of Claude, Marcus’s outrageously dressed, outrageously flirty, surprisingly smart brother, who latched on to a certain snarky Russian vampire. These two!!!

    And we have Marcus. I have a better appreciation of Marcus here because six month earlier, he would have wrinkled his nose at the mere thought of interacting with humans. Now, this big bad vampire is so completely head over heels over his tiny human that he’s willing to make a fool of himself just to make him laugh. Witness another Date. Also, a lot of adorable mushy stuff.

    Marcus trying to impress Finn ♡ (≧◡≦) !!!

    With Finn and Marcus as an establish couple, the primary focus was the mystery. There were several nicely deployed plot twists that I didn’t see coming. There’s still a lot of snark and gags that were sometimes repetitive. There were many scenes where they completely ignored the pressing issue at hand just to exchange snarks. However, the plot moved at a fast pace and laid out Finn’s troubles in a way that kept me consistently engaged.

    The build-up, the showdown and the comeuppance played out quick but intensely suspenseful. All throughout the scene, I was at the edge of my seat wondering how Finn is going make it out of there alive. But the man is smart and resourceful and resilient as fuck. That and Marcus.

    How To Elude A Vampire gives us a happy end to Finn’s stalker woes. I kind of wish Finn was turned into a vampire just so he wouldn’t be injured so easily (and spare Marcus the agony of seeing the love of his life live die of old age while he gets to live forever <– my main issue with human + vampire couples) but that epilogue was super sweet.

    I’m glad the author did not drag this stalker business out for several more books. I felt as relieved as Finn and just as ready to move on to happier matters.

    Namely, Karsyn and Claude.

    P.S.

    The VRC books are not standalones and should be read in order. Witness how a short, sassy human charmed a grumpy, confident, 300-year old vampire into the best worst date ever in How To Vex A Vampire. Review here.

    Posts on Alice Winters books here.

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

    Soundtrack: Treat Me Like A Doll
    Artist: Girls Rituals
    Album: Reddishness


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    REVIEW: How To Vex A Vampire by Alice Winters

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    VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Vex A Vampire – Alice Winters

    Finn
    Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.

    Marcus
    The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.

    This 105k word book contains: A creative use for undergarments, unintentional splits, a wolfhound who just wants to be a part of things, a vertically challenged human who still manages to wrap every vampire he meets around his little finger, the best date ever, possessiveness, really awkward dancing, some workplace revenge, and just a bite or two. Or three. 


    I have read about three Alice Winters books so far, the first Hitman’s Guide story and the two In The Mind installments. I noticed that her pairings usually come in the form of a persistent, outgoing, flirty lead pestering a stoic, reserved, grumpy love interest who secretly enjoys the pestering but doing his manly best to resist. I’m enjoying the heck out of these chases especially when the other shoe drops.

    How To Vex A Vampire is another paranormal offering set in a world where vampires are free to mingle among humans after a bloody history of persecution and deaths. The VRC is a police department who handles any case related to vampires.

    Finn finally managed to get himself into the department, something he worked hard and schemed hard to achieve for entirely very personal reasons. He was partnered with the notorious Marcus Church, a vampire detective known for his gruff manners.

    The book presents several mysteries. First is the case of a murdered female vampire and a drug that drives vampires into a feeding frenzy. There’s also a hooded ancient vampire stalking Finn for more than a decade. They know next to nothing about this entity but this is the only thing that puts real fear into the heart of the spunky Finnegan Hayes.

    The two MCs hinted at some secrets of their own. Marcus’s true status as a vampire is not known to most. Finn had to make a few educated guesses. The biggest mystery of all might be Finn himself. What makes this little human so special that high-level vampires rally to protect him?

    I love Finn! Finn is, in Marcus’s words, a tiny, fragile human. He lost an arm and a leg from a car accident. He now wears high-tech prosthesis, something Finn goes out of his way not to advertise. Our boy is out to prove that he can stand toe to toe with big bad vampires. He has proven again and again that he can. He’s a man on a mission to kill a very specific vampire. Meanwhile, he’s also hellbent on pursuing one other bloodsucker…

    Poor Marcus tried to put up immovable walls but alas. As the two detectives go about finding the bad guys and before he even realized it, Marcus was swept away by the unstoppable force that is Finn. It was a lot of fun to watch! Check out The Date.

    The book stands out for its humor. It does not have the exhausting hyperactive wackadoodle antics of The Hitman’s Guide. It has a more toned down but still OTT snark for snark exchange that is as funny but not as overwhelming.

    There’s suspense and a lot of action but the focus here is on the character interactions and romantic development. The police procedural aspect might not be the most realistic or even accurate but still procedural enough for us to feel these guys are doing their jobs.

    The VRC series has a great cast to work with, many of them memorable. So it’s no surprise that a couple of supporting characters have books of their own, like my grumpy Russian, Karsyn, and nice guy, DeGray. I’m excited to get to their stories.

    This series opener ends with a cliffhanger so we will be continuing the hunt on the second book. Finn has now charmed enough vampires to form an army. One very vexed vampire is right in front, ready to tear the world apart for him.

    Time to end this elusive ancient threat!

    P.S.

    And so because I got too excited for book 2, I read some reviews and learned the name of this mysterious stalker vampire is Doll Maker. This is giving me ideas! Could it be him?!

    Posts on Alice Winters works here.

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

    Soundtrack: Walls Down
    Artist: Memba feat. EVAN GIIA
    Album: Saga-II


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