Badlands: Loose Ends – Morgan Brice
Cold cases, old enemies, ex-lovers, and vengeful spirits are making life dangerous for psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato.
The ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless, trapped by love, secrets, scandals, and spells, keeping Simon busy protecting the living from the unhappy dead. Someone from Vic’s past is out to destroy him and everyone he holds dear, and the high-profile trial of the first case Simon and Vic worked together puts them in the spotlight—and put a target on their backs. As a deadly trap closes around them, can Simon and Vic tie up the loose ends to stop the threat, or will they become the newest ghosts of the Grand Strand?
Loose Ends is an urban fantasy MM paranormal romance with spooky supernatural suspense, hot sex, hurt/comfort, feisty friends, found family, ghosts galore, and dark magic. It is part of a series but can be read as a standalone and features an evolving, established romantic relationship with all the feels. Intended for readers 18 years of age and older.
The Badlands series opened with a strong book 1, Badlands. Book 2, The Rising was a tad too predictable for my liking. Happily, this third book renewed my faith in this highly interesting psychic procedural.
Loose Ends has exes crawling out of the woodwork. Simon’s former fiance, Jason, showed up with his pouncy ass demanding that Simon return to the bosom of his family and be the trophy fiance again. Vic’s sorta ex and former work partner, Nick, has yet to show his ugly mug but it was clear he was trying to ruin Vic’s life. His social media was hacked, his partner Ross’s car was sabotage.
I had complained in my review of The Rising that the author’s execution of couple down time didn’t feel natural. They’re not necessarily forced but they don’t flow as smoothly as I would have liked with the story.
Loose Ends finds Simon and Vic in their happy place. The romantic element was very much improved. The timing and execution of sex scenes felt more organic to the story.
And it’s nice to see an established couple just generally being happy together without becoming boring. I really liked that they stayed strong and worked as a team against those who wanted to tear them apart. I loved that they avoided major misunderstandings and that they never resort to petty internal conflicts either. They weren’t an insta-favorite but Simon and Vic won me over with how well they made their relationship work.
It’s not just the exes. There was also Simon’s estranged mother. She’s a cold woman who cares only about herself and prefers Simon’s ex-fiance to her own son. She called to demand Simon return to his old life, then sent Jason to persuade him.
Simon had no intentions of doing that. He had built a good life in Myrtle Beach. He has Vic and a great support group. His powerful witch friends provide magical back up while his non-magical friends were always there to cheer them on.
The stand out secondary character here is most definitely Ross. He proved himself a good friend and partner to Vic from the time they started working together. He continues to be awesome, advising Vic on his grand plans of putting a ring on it. I’d love to see more of him around.
Simon’s psychic abilities had once again unearthed a dead body. The paranormal elements came wonderfully into play with a cold case, more haunted objects and later on, Nick’s nefarious methods of revenge. The series has always excelled in this aspect. In this third installment, the world has been established but it still offered different avenues to explore and more otherworldly happenings to investigate.
This is the type of case where the perpetrator was known but has yet to be found. The story moved fast with a well-executed plot. It did a great job tying everything together, making clever use of ghostly characters and magic. It certainly lived up to its promise of spooky paranormal suspense with all the romantic feels.
Although it says Loose Ends can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading the Badlands series in order. Start with Simon and Vic’s meet cute in book 1 and watch them go from strength to strength while solving supernatural cases. They have, since then, put a lot of ghosts to rest. It’s time to move on and take it to the next level.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.
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.
Treasure Trail – Morgan Brice
Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters, and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the U.S. and Europe, but then a sting goes wrong, Erik ends up injured and returns to find his partner cheating. He decides to stop globetrotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, NJ, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.
Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. When he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.
Sparks fly when Erik and Ben meet. But when a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface, the two men are pulled into a web of lies, danger, and deception that will test their bond—and might make them Cape May’s newest ghosts!
Treasure Trail contains sexually explicit material intended for adults 18 and over. This is book #1 in the Treasure Trail series.
Treasure Trail is off to a great start!
This new paranormal series by Morgan Brice is part of her inter-connected world of supernaturals. It’s something I’ve always liked about her work.
The story starts with Erik Mitchell just moving in to Cape May, NJ and setting up Trinkets, the antique shop that came along with the house he bought. He also just started on his blog, Treasure Trail, to promote his merchandise.
Erik had traipsed all over the world as part of his work as consultant with the FBI. It’s a dangerous job which had him crossing paths with people who had no qualms with deadly force. On one of his missions, he was shot. He decided to live a quieter life in a town he often visited in childhood.
Cape May is a charming seaside town. Unlike in most stories, the paranormal elements were dealt with quite openly. They even say it’s rare to find a person who has not seen a ghost. There are psychics, a coven of witches, cursed antiques and a very cursed hotel that was torn down 20 years ago.
This hotel plays a central role in the story, a villain of sorts that has caused the deaths and misfortunes of several owners and hotel residents. It has been owned by mobsters, corrupt televangelists and shady new age gurus, all of whom died violent deaths. Even after it was demolished, its evil presence is still strongly felt. It is part of the town’s history and many memorabilia were collected by various interested parties.
The mystery involved some of those memorabilia. A box containing assortments of ephemera from the hotel was sold to Erik. It was a veritable Pandora’s box, containing objects related to famous deaths. Not long after, somebody tried to break in his shop, tried to shoot him and attempted to run him over by a van.
The why was easy to guess, the who was what they needed to find out. While the bad guy was somewhat obvious, I still enjoyed how the various elements tied in together. It’s a book where you savor the process of getting to the answer, more than the answer itself.
There’s seems to be a red string of fate that runs throughout, fate being the main theme. Everything fell into place for Erik. He saw the house and Trinkets online the moment it was put up on sale. The ad even seemed tailor-made for him.
Then he met a very attractive guy he connected with right away while he was waiting at the bar for an online date which turned out to be an epic fail. And what are the chances that said attractive guy would knock on his door the next day?
Ben Nolan was a cop, turned private investigator turned real estate manager. His aunt passed him their rental business. Ben came to Trinkets to have an antique dealer assessed an object he found hidden in one of the houses he manages.
Erik and Ben had a lot of similarities. They were men who could handle themselves in a fight. Erik has a PhD and rocks the well-read, well-traveled, professor look but he had martial arts training and license to carry. Ben is all bad boy ex-cop with ink but is really nice. Both of them had dealt with traumatic experiences that made them change careers. Both were not close to their families. They came to Cape May for a fresh start.
The romance between the two was as insta as they come. They already had the L-word percolating in their minds within one day of being together. I’m not a fan of this fast a pace but the way they synced together that quick was in keeping with the hand of destiny thing the story had going.
It also headed down the miscommunication route especially with the trust issues but happily avoided needless conflict. I really liked how the author set-up my expectations for that awful scenario then deftly turned it into a reasonable plan of action. Shout out to Erik’s cool neighbor, Susan Hendricks, who talked some sense into the guys.
The world-building was a very enjoyable experience as always. Being part of the Morgan Brice/Gail Z. Martin shared world, various characters from other series popped up, including psychic Simon Kincaide and vampire Soren. This is a nice set-up because it opens the series to many possible story lines. We could expect everything from ghosts, witches, demons and fae.
There were no big reveal shockers. Cape May residents were a liberal-minded bunch. People were used to the spooky. More often than not it was a case of Erik being reluctant to reveal his supernatural experiences only to have the other person be easily accepting of the fact. And share similar experiences.
The best thing of all is there is a vast improvement in the writing with new narrator, John Solo, breathing new life into it. While I mostly enjoyed most of the author’s works and Kale Williams’s narration, I do find a certain blandness in them which was highlighted by Williams’s sometimes too calm cadence. Solo’s delivery made the prose’s energy come through.
Also, there were no TSTL moments here. They contacted the police. They did not make any reckless attempts at heroics. And yet the story succeeded in having a chilling, suspenseful climax that managed to make both heroes shine.
Treasure Trail opens this new series in the best way possible. It treaded a familiar path but went in directions that were not exactly new but tended to get bypassed in favor of creating conflicting and excitement. I am eager to see where the author will take this. I say it’s definitely worth the follow.
Posts on Morgan Brice books here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Treasure Trail. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.