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    REVIEW: It’s Not Unusual To Be Loved by an Alien by Chloe Archer

    Tentacular Tales: It’s Not Unusual To Be Loved by an Alien – Chloe Archer

    A sexy alien living incognito on Earth meets a sci-fi loving nerd who wants to rock his universe. What could possibly go wrong? Besides the unexpected tentacles and the accidental Mating Courtship Ritual, that is….

    RIVER SULLIVAN

    As a bona fide sci-fi nerd and total X-phile—the truth is out there—I’ve always believed in aliens. Duh. But I never thought I’d actually find them on Earth–let alone right here in Las Vegas! Now I’ve stumbled onto a big freakin’ secret and found my very own hot AF alien. I’m head over heels, but he’s being a total grump and holding back. How do I make him realize a geeky sunshine guy like me is just what he needs in his life? Did I mention he also has tentacles?!?! #HolyHentaiFantasyBatman #SwoonworthyAlien #SignMeUpSugar #MakeItSo #VivaLasVegas

    KAI GENARO

    The last thing I need in my life is a chatterbox twink who’s determined to woo me and could expose the secret existence of aliens on Earth to all humankind. Everything about him annoys me, including his stupidly attractive halo of golden curls and his bright green ‘come hither’ eyes. To make matters worse, he’s been recruited to work for the alien Alliance on Earth, and I’m assigned to keep him out of trouble. I don’t care how attractive he is. I don’t date humans! Except, my tentacles may have accidentally started the Mating Courtship Ritual with him…

    It’s Not Unusual To Be Loved by an Alien (Tentacular Tales #1) is a (102,000 words) M/M sci-fi rom com featuring an adorkable twink with unexpected secrets and a slight obsession with extraterrestrials, the reluctant alien he wants to make his boo, tentacles with a mind of their own, zany extraterrestrial shenanigans in Sin City, and enough humor to fill an entire spaceship. This is the first book in the series. There is no cheating, and this book ends with a HFN. Never fear, the series guarantees readers an HEA by the end!


    The truth is out there, and they come with tentacles! You know what this means…

    River Sullivan, sci-fi nerd, and hyper-energized twink, came face to face with his hentai fantasy in this hilarious sci-fi romance, It’s Not Unusual To Be Love By An Alien. So of course, he pretty much threw himself at it.

    Captain Kai Genaro of the alien alliance secretly located on earth didn’t know what to do with the strange human whose memory he couldn’t erase. He even busted out his tentacles to perform the most powerful mind-erasing technique in his arsenal, but River seemed to be immune even to that. Unbeknownst to both, this kicked off the Mating Courtship Ritual.

    The story is in alternate POVs of River and Kai. As an aspiring writer, River’s chapters open with excerpts from his ultra-smutty sci-fi serial about a dashing hero and his temptingly tentacular arch-nemesis. He posts this on his blog, not really expecting many people would bother with it. Guess who reads his porn.

    Kai’s chapters opens with informative instructions on his species’ Mating Courtship Ritual, which amused me so much because the grumpy dork is unwittingly performing each step while valiantly fighting his insane attraction to the captivating human. It didn’t help that River was mercilessly flirting with him. And conniving with Kai’s smarmy brother to make him jealous.

    Kai is my favorite character. A well-respected leader and the best mind eraser of the alliance, he can be brusque and grumpy at first. He put up quite a fight, but River is an unstoppable force. When he became honest about his feelings and got his shit together, he turned out to be a sweet alien boyfriend. And he’s cute when he’s flustered or when River makes him smile or laugh.

    River I had to get use to. The humor here reminds me of Alice Winters, like River being sooo extra everything. I found his non-stop blabbering exhausting, I nearly stopped reading. But later on, I did warm up to him. Especially when he showed how creatively he could handle alien/human crises. What I liked best about River is that instead of freaking out about alien existence, he not only embraced the whole thing, but became one with it.

    While the main storyline is the hella adorable courtship between River and Kai, there’s a mini-mystery regarding River’s identity. Also, they are working on the case of aliens being drugged. And there’s a potentially yummy romance between River’s super laidback Uncle Benji and Kai’s charming brother, Mal.

    The plot is mostly humor, family and alien interactions, and surprisingly, littler-than-expected tentacular shenanigans. The slow burn is preferable for me because the fun is in the courtship and the USTs they generate. Also, River might be flirty AF, but our boy is not giving up his ass until the captain gets his in gear. Attaboy!

    It also has a stellar supporting cast, starting with the chibi but feisty Evan, River’s BFF, Kai’s parents who were opposites in personality yet madly in love, Uncle Benji, who looks like Keanu Reeves, and vibes like The Dude in The Big Lebowski, and Mal, Kai’s brother who I hope gets his own book with Uncle Benji. And yes, Mr. Tom Jones.

    The author made the perfect choice in the narrator Greg Boudreaux. This story is the kind of crazy mayhem he excels. Even with a spaceship full of cast, he made each personality shine and emoted the heck out of everyone. I recommend audiobooking this.

    It’s Not Unusual To Be Loved By An Alien is a silly little tale of a smitten alien’s ridiculously awkward yet adorably sweet wooing of a human, and one sci-fi nerd’s dream coming true in more ways than he expected. Overall, a sassy, snarky, and swoony alien romance that’s certainly more than the sum of its tentacles!

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

    Soundtrack: Alien Boyfriend
    Artist: Gregory Dillon
    Album:


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    REVIEW: Notorious by Charlie Cochet & Macy Blake

    Shifter Scoundrels: Notorious – Charlie Cochet & Macy Blake

    New Paranormal Romance from Bestselling MM Authors Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake. Modern-day Bridgerton with shifter royalty, a snarky fox, and the tiger who refuses to fall for his charms.

    Caspian Drake knows what it takes to get ahead in modern-day shifter society. He is an Earl, after all, and known for his wit, style, and ability to charm the pants off of anyone he chooses. Getting his best friend Brandr, the Prince of the Dragons, in and out of trouble is only one of his many talents. When a horrible attack shakes Cas’s world, he’s forced to pair up with Saphir Vepkhia, the esteemed tiger shifter and former Captain of the Royal Guard.

    Upon retirement, Saphir is granted the title of Baron Archer and, much to his dismay, becomes part of royal society. Years later, when he’s summoned to the palace, the last thing Saphir expects is for the king to request a favor that ties him to the scoundrel, Caspian Drake. Despite his misgivings, Saphir accepts the assignment, knowing it will give him the access he needs to infiltrate the wealthy and powerful while trying not to get outfoxed by the exasperating Earl.

    Forced into a fake relationship by an outdated matchmaking ritual, Cas and Saphir each face the upcoming season with their own agenda. The secrets pile up as the two mates navigate the complexities of a modern world that plays by historic rules. But the closer they get to the truth, the greater the danger–and their attraction to each other–grows.

    With their lives on the line and the very foundations of their society at risk, Cas and Saphir must unravel the mystery, even if it means creating a scandal more notorious than their newfound love.


    I wouldn’t have associated Bridgerton with the paranormal but bless the talented author duo, Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake, for making this combination work. And to spectacular results at that!

    Notorious is Book 1 of Shifter Scoundrels, an alt-universe ruled by a dragon king who created their world based on his favorite human era. As a fan of Bridgerton, I reveled in all the ton intrigue, the ridiculously expensive finery, the amusing rules of etiquette, and of course, the endless balls.

    I initially expected the anachronisms to be cheesy or jarring, but the blending of modern-day Bridgerton and shifter lore was beautifully seamless. Even the fashion was a fabulous mix of historical and contemporary, something I would really love to see on screen. While they behave with Regency manners, they also possess cell phones, cars, and other technology.

    An interesting twist is the outdated ritual where eligible shifters are matched, and a hunt ensues. If they catch their match, the couple is together for the duration of the season. If not, the hunted has the right to turn down their pairing.

    The story opens with a murder, and the king tasked the crown prince’s best friend, Caspian Drake, Earl of Brus. to find the killer. Unknown to the Earl, the king also tasked his trusted friend and former Captain of the Guard, Baron Archer Saphir Vepkhia, to keep him safe.

    The rakish earl and the gruff baron want nothing to do with each other, but they are paired by the matchmakers. Cocky Cas boasts no one has caught him yet. To which Saphir smugly responds, we’ll see about that…

    The romance is enjoyable, but it’s just what could be expected of an enemies-to-lovers + fake relationship story. It’s the rest of the plot and the very entertaining supporting cast that had me hooked. The series is peopled with sharp-witted matrons with deadly tongues and even deadlier secret skills, as well as charming young lords and ladies, both naïve and worldly.

    The first chapter saddened me because the short time he appeared on page, I already liked the murder victim’s character. The first half slowly established the setting and plot. Then it picked up pace with the latter half sweeping me into a whirlwind of antagonistic shenanigans, espionage, murder mystery, action, and adventure. One complaint is how Cas and Saphir missed the very obviously villainous bad guy and instead latched on to the very obviously clueless side character.

    Three interesting characters I’m keeping my eye on are the scarred and mysterious Lord Everard, spacey scientific genius Lord Quentin, and purveyor of gossip and dandy extraordinaire Lord Beaumont. Lord Everard’s book is next. Now this man knows how to make an entrance!

    Notorious is my first Macy Blake, but I’ve read many Charlie Cochet books. One thing’s guaranteed, it’s always going to be fun! This series opener is no exception. It has a plot that takes you on a wild ride, characters you’ll fall for, and deftly executed writing that captures the best of both worlds! It’s definitely quite a catch!

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

    Soundtrack: Catch You
    Artist: Dashboard Confessional
    Album: Crooked Shadows


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    SERIES REVIEW: The Vampire’s Club Books 6-7 by X. Aratare

    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


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

    Soundtrack: Bloodstream
    Artist: Stateless
    Album: Stateless


    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!


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

    Soundtrack: Sore wa Matta Betsu no Ohanashi
    Artist: Amazarashi
    Album: Yuuhi shinkou higashizumu 


    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.

    P.S.

    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!

    Incoherent squees a.k.a. reviews:
    The Vampire’s Club
    The Vampire’s Club 2 
    The Vampire’s Club 3
    The Vampire’s Club 4
    The Vampire’s Club 5


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    SERIES REVIEW: Secrets and Scrabble Books 3-5 by Josh Lanyon

    Secrets and Scrabble: Mystery at the Masquerade – Josh Lanyon

    Love is in the Salt Sea Air–and So is Murder!

    Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, the Crow’s Nest, is both flattered and bemused when he’s invited to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade, the best and biggest social event of the season in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove, Rhode Island. The event is hosted by the wealthy Marguerite Bloodworth-Ainsley—a descendant of the famed pirate Tom Blood.

    Ellery doesn’t even know Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley—nor, it turns out—does Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley know him. But Marguerite’s son, Julian wants to know Ellery. Julian, handsome, rich and engaging, is a huge mystery buff. In fact, he’s bought quite a few books at the Crow’s Nest bookstore, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask Ellery out.

    As his relationship with Police Chief Carson seems to be dead in the water, Ellery is grateful for a little flattering attention from the village’s most eligible bachelor, but any hopes of romance hit the shoals when Julian is accused of murdering his mother’s unlikable second husband during the Masquerade’s annual ghost hunt in the family’s spooky cemetery


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

    Soundtrack: Only for You
    Artist: Heartless Bastards
    Album: Arrow


    Secrets and Scrabble: Scandal at the Salty Dog – Josh Lanyon

    Mystery Stalks the Cobbled Streets of Pirate’s Cove

    Who or what is haunting elderly recluse Juliet Blackwell, what does it have to do with mysterious goings-on at the Salty Dog Pub–and why is any of it mystery bookshop owner Ellery Page’s problem? According to sometimes boyfriend Police Chief Jack Carson, it’s not Ellery’s problem, and Ellery should stop asking awkward questions before it’s too late.

    Ellery couldn’t agree more, but it’s hard to say no when someone is as frightened as old Mrs. Blackwell. Mrs. Blackwell insists the ghost of long dead pirate Rufus Blackwell has come to avenge himself on the last member of his treacherous clan.

    Before Ellery can say, “Yikes!” Mrs. Blackwell takes a tumble down the grand staircase of her spooky mansion, and it’s up to Ellery to find who is trying to kill his eccentric customer.


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

    Soundtrack: Now That I’ve Found You
    Artist: Liam Gallagher
    Album: Why Me? Why Not.


    Secrets and Scrabble: Body at Buccaneer’s Bay – Josh Lanyon

    Dead Men Tell No Tales

    Mystery Bookshop owner Ellery Page and Police Chief Jack Carson are diving for the legendary sunken pirate galleon Blood Red Rose when they discover an old fashioned diver’s suit, water-damaged and encrusted with barnacles. Further examination reveals the 19th Century suit contains a 21st Century body.

    Who is the mysterious diver? No one seems to be missing from the quaint and cozy town of Pirate’s Cove. Was he really diving for pirate’s gold? And if not, what exactly did he do to earn that bullet hole in his skull?


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

    Soundtrack: Every Side of You
    Artist: Vance Joy
    Album: In Our Own Sweet Time


    Secrets and Scrabble is a cozy mystery that is as adorable as advertised. The first two books, Murder at Pirate’s Cove and Secret At Skull House, I was admittedly not that into the series just yet since the first 2 cases were similar. Our hero Ellery Page was accused of murder twice.

    The third time’s the charm because Book 3, Mystery at the Masquerade, I was all in! Here, reluctant amateur sleuth Ellery was asked to prove his masquerade ball date’s innocence. This had him crossing paths with the one-time date and more-than-friend friend, Police Chief Jack Carson.

    Each mystery put one of Buck Island’s founding families under scrutiny and took Ellery to midnight forays in centuries old crypts, tunnels, and old houses. I totally love the setting! Buck Island was founded by pirates who built grand houses, and secret tunnels. It’s a great place to explore.

    To live in? I’m not sure. The series is chockful of very spry, very gossipy septuagenarians, and as per Ellery, it’s a fishbowl. Nosy as they are, the supporting cast is very entertaining. At this point, the initially maligned Ellery, a transplant from New York but a descendant of the founding father, Horatio Page, is now a respected member of the community.

    The next two books, Scandal at the Salty Dog and Body in Buccaneer’s Bay, Ellery is roped in to investigate since he now has the reputation as an amateur sleuth. To me, the hallmarks of a great mystery novel is how much I enjoy tagging along with the detective, regardless of whether or not I care about catching the culprit. And Secrets and Scrabble made it so much fun to tag along with Ellery and experience Pirate Cove through his eyes.

    Ellery is a fantastic MC for a cozy! Lovable, kind-hearted, loyal, and always willing to lend a hand even if greatly inconvenienced. Not overly quirky or introverted, abysmally bad actor, okay playwright, a struggling bookstore owner, and a devoted human to Watson, the black mixed-breed puppy. (I audiobooked this and narrator Matt Haynes’s Watson barks are ridiculously adorbs!)

    He went through the trademark Josh Lanyon hot/cold treatment in love interest Jack. The whys of this were later revealed in the last part of Book 3 through Jack’s impassioned speech about his tragic past. The chief is one the best cop boyfriends in the author’s roster of gruff cop boyfriends because he’s not an asshole like the others. The romance might be low-key but certainly very cute!

    Secrets and Scrabble is a pirate-flavored cozy mystery series that continues to charm me with intriguing cases, quirky characters, lovable MCs and an island full of secrets and hidden treasures yet to be discovered. With a delightful slow-burn romance as the cherry on top, I’m completely onboard for the rest of the journey!

    P.S.

    Secrets and Scrabble should be read in order. Witness a pirate cosplay murder in Murder at Pirate’s Cove. Find out how Ellery fared as a suspect in yet another murder in Secret At Skull House.


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    MYSTERY AT THE MASQUERADE
    SCANDAL AT THE SALTY DOG
    BODY AT BUCCANEER”S BAY

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    SERIES REVIEW: The Spectral Files by S.E. Harmon

    The Spectral Files: P.S. I Spooked You by S.E. Harmon

    SSA Rain Christiansen used to be the agency’s golden boy. It just takes one moment of weakness, one slight, tiny, itty-bitty paranormal sighting, and all of a sudden he’s the agency’s embarrassment. His boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself—go down to Brickell Bay, play nice with the local police, and leave the ghost sightings behind. Rain is determined to do exactly that, even if it kills him.

    Cold-case detective Daniel McKenna’s latest investigation is going nowhere fast. Five years earlier, high school student Amy Greene went missing after leaving her part-time job and was never seen again. Daniel is glad to finally have the FBI help that his department requested, even if it does come in the form of his ex.

    It doesn’t help that Rain is pretty sure he’s falling in love with Danny all over again—if he ever stopped. Add to that the frustration of seeing ghosts at every turn while he works a case that’s stalled in its tracks, and Rain is starting to wonder if second chances and happy endings are just for fairy tales.


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

    Soundtrack: Light Up
    Artist: Mutemath
    Album: Vitals


    The Spectral Files: Principles of Spookology by S.E. Harmon

    No one said being a medium would be easy.

    Rain Christiansen, former FBI agent and current cold case detective, is starting to think it’s the hardest job he’s ever had—and the most important. He’s determined to accept all the changes in his formerly well-ordered life, but that means embracing a whole lot of weird. There’s no instruction manual for meshing his work with his medium duties, and he’s painfully aware that he’s flubbing the job. So are the ghosts, who are becoming increasingly impatient. And stronger.

    To complicate matters, he’s not sure what these spooktacular developments mean for his relationship. It certainly seems like Daniel McKenna, his partner in work and life, is in it for the long haul. But Rain can’t help but wonder how long that patience will last…and what he’ll do if Danny decides the intrusive ghosts are just too much.

    Rain thought accepting his supernatural gifts would be the solution to his troubles. But he’s starting to realize his problems are just getting started.


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

    Soundtrack: Beautiful Mistake
    Artist: Hudson Taylor
    Album: Singing to Strangers


    The Spectral Files: Spooky Business by S.E. Harmon

    Being insatiably curious is a good way to end up dead.

    Rain Christiansen, cold case detective and reluctant medium, is very aware of that fact. But when infamous serial killer Thomas Kane wants to meet, there’s no way Rain can say no. He also can’t refuse Kane’s offer—find his missing wife, Delilah, and he’ll reveal the location of his victim’s bodies.

    Rain has never turned down a good quid pro quo, and he doesn’t intend to start.

    The hunt for Kane’s wife leads to yet another cold case, three copycat murders, and an investigation where nothing is as it seems. Soon, Rain is dealing with a ghost unlike any he’s ever dealt with before…a ghost capable of doing things he shouldn’t be able to do. How can Rain control something he doesn’t even understand? And what will he do when the unknown threatens the safety of the most important person in his life?

    Rain is starting to realize that he can only battle the supernatural with the supernatural, and that is spooky business indeed.


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

    Soundtrack: You Are Mine
    Artist: Mutemath
    Album: Mutemath


    The Spectral Files: The Spooky Life by S.E. Harmon

    Rain Christiansen isn’t sure he’ll ever fully understand the supernatural. But he’s finally finding his groove as a reluctant medium and cold-case detective. That’s not to say everything is going smoothly—there’s a wedding in the works, after all. He’s finally taking that enormous step with fellow detective, Daniel McKenna, and he couldn’t be happier…about the marriage. Not so much the wedding. The hoopla is enough to make him wish for a quick flight to Vegas and an Elvis officiant.

    At least work is keeping Rain and the PTU plenty busy. Their latest case involves Hannah Caldwell, a silent ghost who can’t—or won’t—speak. She still manages to request that they find her dear friend, Cherry Parker, so that she can say goodbye. Piece of cake. Finding people is pretty high on the list of things that Rain does best.

    But when it comes to ghosts, nothing is ever quite what it seems. Before long, his simple missing person’s case takes a dark and twisted turn. And Rain realizes he’s been so busy trying to protect Danny that he forgot to protect himself.

    If he doesn’t turn things around—and quickly—his spooky life might be cut short for good.


    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Wedding Song
    Artist: The Psychedelic Furs
    Album: The Psychedelic Furs


    The Spectral Files is one of the more entertaining psychic procedurals I’ve read. The series stars Rainstorm Christiansen, an uptight, straight-laced federal agent turned police detective who can see ghosts. The unique name is due to his hippie-dippy, weed-growing parents, who named his twin sister Sky. His middle name may or may not be Moonbeam, depending on who’s exasperated at him. Mostly Danny. Rain is almost always exasperating and damn well knows it.

    The series opens with Rain returning to his hometown for a case and quickly butting heads with the head detective, a.k.a. the ex he ghosted seven years ago, Daniel Mckenna. The investigation forced Rain to use his much-dreaded ability, but its effectiveness yielded results that the police higher-ups couldn’t ignore. This led to Rain rethinking his career and earning a second chance with Danny.

    The books focus on a big case each while also tackling minor cases, which maybe related to it. I loved that they vary and are not always murder. The 3rd book is about a serial killer with a twist. These cases are closely interwoven with Rain and Danny’s personal lives since most of the ghosts have no concept of boundaries. Also, Danny is technically Rain’s supervisor in their newly formed paranormal unit.

    One running gag is how spectacularly inept Rain is at managing his ability. Rain is very contrary, usually difficult just for the heck of it. He’s been advised to take lessons in reining in his energy because the ghosts are getting out of hand. Poor Danny freaked upon learning these specters were watching and opining on them going at it like bunnies.

    Rain dragged his feet for as long as he could, then managed to offend all his peace-loving gurus to the point of violence. But it was obvious he’s going to settle with the whimsically named Dakota Daydream because this chill guru was described as cute, also gay and lowkey lusting after him, while the rest were funky enough to be throwaways.

    The plots document the barely perceptible progress of Rain’s psychic powers and how he finally came to terms with them in the last book. Rain is such a disaster he mostly gets by the skin of his teeth. This is funny at some points, but his performance in the last case pissed me off so much. It could have been easily avoided, if only he bothered to learn more about his abilities. The idiot got himself trapped. I thought it was pretty stupid, and I was so angry at Rain for letting it happen.

    The writing has a humorous tone, full of snarky banters and Rain’s internal jokes. Rain is an entertaining narrator but tends to digress at almost every instant. This is the author’s style, and I’m not really a fan of it. I found many of the jokes unnecessary. They mess up the pace a bit too.

    Still, I was glued to the books. Wordy as they are, they’re very riveting. The cases were tough, the character interactions were hilarious, and the investigations were fun to follow. The stories have an engaging slice-of-life quality that makes the characters feel like people I know. Danny’s team is an awesome supporting cast, especially the super laidback Kevin St. James, who doesn’t stop eating.

    Also, the author excels at writing second-chance romances, capturing that second-time-around magic and proving the sweetness in the adage. The dynamics between Rain and Danny are fantastic because Danny is a saint who can roll with Rain’s crazy and his wackadoodle family. The boys work together and live together, and still can’t get enough of each other! GOALS.

    My gripes aside, The Spectral Files is snarky, occasionally serious given the crime, and always entertaining. It is easily one of the most bingeable series out there!


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    REVIEW: Savage Rivals by Becca Steele

    Savage Rivals – Becca Steele

    Asher Henderson.
    Captain of the Highnam Academy football team, and the bane of my existence.
    As Alstone High’s team captain, I’ve been pitted against him from the beginning, but our conflict isn’t only reserved for the pitch.
    Everyone knows we’re enemies. From our first encounter, our rivalry has been escalating, spiralling out of control.

    Until one night when everything between us changed.
    He pushed me too far, and we crossed a line that should never have been crossed.
    Now, I can’t get him out of my head.
    Can we ever be more than rivals, or are there too many obstacles in our way?

    One thing I know for sure.
    Things between us will never be the same again.

    Savage Rivals is a standalone M/M new adult high school romance with enemies to lovers and gay awakening themes. This book contains mature situations and content.

    I *Originally included in the Brutal Boys on Devils Night collection. This edition of Savage Rivals has been expanded with additional content.


    I stepped into Savage Rivals blind, knowing only that this is enemies to lovers as per title and not much else. I was also drawn to the narrators’ voices. This savage book immediately held me in its grip, right until the very end. This is a guaranteed one-sitter!

    It starts with two bitter rivals, football captains of competing high schools, Asher Henderson and Levi Woodford. Their teams are trying to one-up each other in the pitch and in pranks. The ball is currently in Asher’s team’s court, the boys swearing revenge for a vicious prank by Levi’s team.

    The two captains’ rivalry is legendary. It’s reaching a particularly intense peak when Levi does the unthinkable. Now, Asher and Levi still claim they hate each other but are super, super confused about certain feelings.

    Part of what makes the enemies-to-lovers trope fun is the hate part. This is what most books tend to get wrong, delivering lukewarm animosity that barely lasts a couple chapters. It’s the passionate hate that gives the flip to lust/love it’s spine-tingling zing.

    Savage Rivals did this so deliciously! The two boys nearly killing each other at knife point and then going nuclear, albeit confused, angry, but hella horny. That scene scorched my brain! Everything leading to it was a tightly wounded ball of tension skillfully woven to detonate at maximum capacity. I am a happy casualty.

    It didn’t stop there. Once the two stopped resisting the magnetic pull towards each other, they became the ultimate relationship goals. Though secretly at first. They had to find a way to break it gently to their warring teams. Many might not take kindly to the news.

    Ash is from the poorer districts, while Levi lives in a posh neighborhood. The two were surprised by how much they had in common. Their chemistry was off the charts!

    My favorite thing about them is how honest they are to each other, even as enemies. As a couple, this kept them strong, even as everyone else pushed them to fight because the school rivalry was just that bitter. They are one of the most memorable couples of this year.

    Savage Rivals is one of the swooniest romances I’ve read! It perfectly captures the blurring line between love and hate, and the bliss thereafter, in all their breathtaking glory, I exploded in a puff of squees!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: War of Hearts
    Artist: Ruelle
    Album: Up In Flames


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    REVIEW: The Kite by N.R. Walker

    The Kite – N.R. Walker

    Ex-Australian Specialist Response Group, Tim “Harry” Harrigan, has been running covert ops for almost a decade. A lone wolf, he’s single-handedly taken down terrorists and national security threats, or so he thinks. He’s been in the game far too long, and when he sees a familiar threat, he knows his time is up.

    Asher Garin is a dangerous man. A man without loyalty, a man without a nationality, without a country, or a home. He’s also a mercenary for hire to the highest bidder. His next job is a face he recognises, and after a tip-off, he learns he too is a marked man.

    It’s a different game now, and Harry and Asher have a better chance at surviving if they stick together. But it’s not just the game or the rules that have changed. The stakes have too.

    Because on their own, they had nothing to lose. Together, they do.

    ~
    #EnemiesToLovers #GayAssassins #UsAgainstThem
    Caution: on-page physical and gun violence. Reader discretion advised.


    I am a sucker for assassin v. assassin turned assassin ♡ assassin romance, so I had to grab The Kite, N.R. Walker‘s standalone take on the trope.

    The book hits the ground running with bad guys hot on the trail of ex-Australian Special Response hitman Tim Harrigan who was scoping out his target. Unexpectedly, the notorious but elusive hired killer Asher Garin comes in to assist, then persuades the recalcitrant Harry to go with him. Later, Asher points out the suspicious activities of Harry’s handler and how it is related to why he was hired to kill the Australian.

    Most of the book is spent with the MCs on the run. Had they had different occupations, it would have been a picturesque tour across the Middle East. As such, the boys travel on roads best avoided, sometimes, no road at all. They make pitstops at the seediest motels or rooms procured by taciturn locals. All of which was orchestrated by Asher’s super mysterious and omniscient contact whom he refuses to name. Harry calls him Four, for lack of anything to call the voice on the phone.

    One of the most fun parts of enemies to lovers is the intensity of hate warring with the intensity of lust, a.k.a hatefucks, a.k.a Harry’s dilemma. Because Asher was the provocateur, mercilessly flirting and pushing buttons. The air between them was charged with tempers and USTs until it went nuclear. The sizzling heat was balanced by the softer moments, like when the perpetually grumpy and reluctantly worried Harry cuddled the freezing Asher to keep him warm.

    The suspense and the non-stop action kept the story fast-paced. While the writing wasn’t particularly detailed on the scenery, Harry and Asher’s adventure still had that cinematic quality, easily conjuring images of blistering deserts, mazelike alleys and majestic architectures that Asher oh so helpfully pointed out Harry should take time to appreciate. Add to that the edge-of-your seat fight scenes and high-stakes international scandal, and it’s a story made for Hollywood!

    Couple of niggles, though. The author excels at writing the fluffiest, most squee-tastic stories out there. Here, it felt like the story couldn’t make up its mind between gritty and fluffy. A book could be both, of course, but this time, the blending didn’t feel seamless.

    Also, Asher’s backstory wasn’t as fully explored as I wanted. All we know are barebones facts. He’s the best sharpshooter, has no country, was frequently moved around as a child, learned how to handle weapons early on, and he’s very protective of his friend, Four.

    There was still so much to learn about Asher’s character. Even that dream place he referred to generated more questions at the ending. It was also hinted that Asher has been following Harry’s career for years. I thought it was a crush. Too bad that little nugget wasn’t taken further. I’m not sure if there is a sequel, but I’ll gladly read more about Asher anytime. And I’m dying for Four’s book too!

    Harry’s backstory was known early on. However, his personality came across as flat in the beginning. As the story progressed, he was less scowly and more open. The man turned out to be a pretty protective of Asher. Harry was super bad ass with his super fast gunslinging skills. His specialty is close combat. He’s a grizzly bear alright, but definitely a care bear too!

    The Kite is a romantic suspense that did brilliantly on both fronts. It takes us on a grand tour of Middle Eastern cities and their underbelly via a thrilling chase and high-stakes mission. It takes a breather when two assassins go from purely physical to utterly tender in a soul-deep connection forged by danger and hard-won trust. All in all, intense, swoony, and totally spectacular as a movie!

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

    Soundtrack: Villains of Circumstance
    Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
    Album: Villains


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    SERIES REVIEW: Kip O’Connor Mystery Books 1-3 by S.C. Wynne

    Kip O’Connor Mystery: Last Gasp – S.C. Wynne

    Kip O’Connor lives a simple life in the little seaside town of Pearl Bay. Unless it’s tourist season, things tend to be pretty peaceful. There is, however, one never ending source of irritation in the form of Police Chief Merrick Dawson.

    Merrick is Kip’s older brother’s BFF, and nothing seems to bring Merrick more joy than nagging Kip about silly things. You’d think a Police Chief would have more important things to do than lecture Kip on parking tickets and picking up pet waste, but somehow Merrick always finds the time.

    Kip decides to take an art class at the local community college, and he’s annoyed to find Merrick has also enrolled in the course. The instructor takes a shine to Kip, and soon they become friends outside of class. Merrick warns Kip of the dangers of blurring those lines and befriending his teacher, but Kip is flattered by the attention.

    When his art teacher is found stabbed through the forehead with a palette knife, Kip is determined to figure out who killed his new friend. Merrick naturally thinks Kip getting involved in the investigation is a horrible idea, but when has Kip ever listened to that irksome, pig-headed Merrick Dawson?

    This is book one in my brand new Kip O’Connor M/M Cozy Mystery series. Each book has a cozy feel to it and there is a strong romantic story-line in each book. No on page steam but some mild violence. I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I enjoy writing it.


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

    Soundtrack: Please Notice
    Artist: Christian Leave
    Album: Hope


    Kip O’Connor Mystery: Last Date – S.C. Wynne

    Some dates are simply murder.

    After barely surviving a terrifying stalker last month, Kip is reexamining his life choices. There’s nothing like almost dying to make you take stock of things.

    One bright spot is that the ever maddening Merrick Dawson has stopped following him around picking on him. Merrick has begun dating Peter Harris, who by all accounts is a wonderful guy. Peter is nice. He’s handsome. He’s downright annoyingly perfect.

    When Kip is asked out on a romantic sunset cruise by one of Pearl Cove’s most eligible bachelors, he decides he has nothing to lose. Unless he wants to spend the rest of his days alone, he needs to be proactive about finding love.
    But when Kip shows up for the cruise, instead of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, he finds his date dead.

    This is book two in my Kip O’Connor M/M Cozy Mystery series. Each book has a cozy feel to it and there is a strong romantic (slow burn) storyline in each book. No on-page steam but some mild violence.


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

    Soundtrack: Longshot
    Artist: Catfish and the Bottlemen
    Album: The Balance


    Kip O’Connor Mystery: Last Chance – S.C. Wynne

    Wait just a minute. A whole month has passed and no one has been murdered in Pearl Cove?

    Things are settling down in Pearl Cove as Kip and Merrick fumble their way through a new relationship. There’s no denying the two men have deep feelings for each other, but trust issues can play havoc when people don’t communicate well.

    When Kip’s office manager, Helen, has her home burgled, but nothing is stolen, the Pearl Cove PD has little interest in solving the case. Kip, Charlene, and Helen decide a little amateur sleuthing couldn’t hurt anything.

    Not surprisingly, Police Chief Dawson doesn’t agree. He wholeheartedly disapproves of his boyfriend’s plan to nab the trespasser. But if the police won’t do anything, Kip isn’t about to turn his back on his friend.

    In fact, it’s rather fun to play detective… until the thief tries to murder them.

    This is book three in my Kip O’Connor M/M Cozy Mystery series. Each book has a cozy feel to it and there is a strong romantic storyline in each book. No on-page graphic steam, but some mild violence.


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

    Album: Care for You
    Artist: Ryan Ashley
    Album: Care for You


    Kip O’Connor Mystery is your typical cozy mystery. Small town, quirky characters, frenemy cop later boyfriend, and of course, murder. The dynamics between Kip and Police Chief Merrick Dawson reminded me of Josh Lanyon‘s style, except this is much better. Merrick is more likable and less an asshole than most Josh Lanyon love interests.

    I say this is typical, but this turned out to be my favorite S.C. Wynne series. The author picked a great narrator, James Woodrich, whose delivery suited the story to a T and made Kip’s personality shine. I also liked how he voiced Merrick’s character, charming, a bit arrogant but always protective of Kip, level-headed and stern when in cop mode.

    Kip’s fantastic in his down-to-earth ways. His character wasn’t overly quirky or introverted, for which I’m glad as too many cozies tend to lean towards those. He’s an average joe who seeks contentment and a simple life. What made me love Kip is that he’s kind-hearted, loyal, and always willing to help his friends, who are also his employees. He runs a thriving dog-walking business and likes dogs so much, he volunteered a lot of pro-bono training hours just so a dog wouldn’t end up in the pound. And I was super amused at how spectacularly oblivious he was about Merrick.

    Kip and Merrick had an antagonistic relationship since childhood. Merrick is Kip’s older brother Thomas’s best friend, who tormented him as a child. As years passed, Merrick’s feelings changed, but Kip’s has not, and this led to the running gag in the first two books, where everyone knows, hints are thrown, but Kip fails to pick up or entertain because memories of bullying were hard to shake off.

    I’m not sure how to feel about Kip’s family and friends waving the trauma aside and proclaiming Merrick’s the best guy for him. However, present-day Merrick is genuinely contrite, so I wasn’t too hard on him. I loved how effectively the author created the USTs and squee factor between the two MCs, even if most of how Merrick felt was only relayed to Kip, who had a hard time believing. It took spelling out for our boy to realize what was pretty obvious to everyone. Trust is an issue but they’re working on it.

    The mysteries were intriguing, with a lot of red herrings thrown in. For the first two books, Last Gasp and Last Date, Kip is directly connected to the murder victims. One is his art teacher. The second is his Valentine’s Day date. I like that he didn’t do amateur sleuthing here because it wouldn’t have felt natural, given Kip’s situation.

    In the third book, Last Chance, his employee Charlene is burgled, and due to police neglect, Kip, Charlene, and another employee, Helen, are forced to do some amateur sleuthing. They crossed paths with some horrible people but there is a nice little resolution for Charlene at the end.

    One of the conflicts between the MCs is about police behavior. Kip’s encounters with the cops were usually unpleasant. Merrick is understandably defensive of his cops, but Kip had a point about them not doing their jobs properly and/or jumping the gun too often. However, the great thing about these two is that they might bicker and miscommunicate, but they do make it a point to talk, eventually.

    Kip O’ Connor Mystery is as cozy and entertaining as promised. Add to it the adorable doggy antics, and boy, do I want to work for Red Leash! Kip’s a super cool boss and my spirit animal in bleeding hearts for strays department. He’d be awesome to have as a friend too. All in all, great books for curling up in a corner with a canine friend or two!


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