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    REVIEW: Hell Cop by Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling & Ginn Hale

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    Hell Cop – Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling & Ginn Hale

    Three award-wining authors bring a magical city and its fantastic defenders to life!

    Home to demons, enchanting creatures, sorcerers, and millions of ordinary people equipped with paranormal technology, Parmas City runs on magic. But not all sorcery is benign. Whether they’re murderous spells, supernatural assassinations, demon-fighting rings or illegal incantations, paranormal crimes abounds. Sworn to take on those threats are the tough, tireless, and often troubled members of the Metropolitan Demonic Unit–the Hell Cops.

    Next of Kin by Astrid Amara
    Jay Yervant is a Hell Cop so powerful that his bare skin incinerates anyone he contacts. Isolated, he is tortured by desire, until he meets Brian, a sensual young man who touches him with impunity. But Jay’s burgeoning hope is threatened when a malevolent sorcerer unleashes a host of demonic assassins against Brian. Keeping his lover may cost Jay his life
    .

    Red Sands by Nicole Kimberling
    Anthropologist Michael Gold’s got problems. His apartment’s been ransacked, his dad’s missing, and he’s been framed for murder. As a half-demon he expects trouble from the city’s Hell Cops. Instead, he gets Argent, a man immune to his psychic powers and armed with disturbingly intimate knowledge of Michael. But whether Argent intends to use that to exonerate Michael or to convict him may not matter, because someone wants him dead.

    Touching Sparks by Ginn Hale
    When photojournalist James Sparks stumbles into an underworld of sorcery, blood sports and demonic drug traffic, he believes that Detective Ben Moran may be his only way out. But playing the role of an informant is far from safe, and as James uncovers evidence of police corruption, he realizes that Moran may be in as much danger as he is.


    Hell Cop is a fantastic urban fantasy collection brought to us by the same author trio who created my favorite supernatural world of the Irregulars.

    Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling and Ginn Hale give us Parmas City, a city that is powered by demons. Demons and demon body parts are used to create technology, medicine, used as labor, fuel even illegal drugs. Some of these demons can be seen on the streets going about their daily tasks. The city is ruled by old rich sorcerer families called hotbloods who own huge corporations and control portals that summon demons.

    Hell Cops is the street term for the police officers who handle any case related to demons. It goes without saying the job is pretty dangerous so the hell cops are typically magic users.

    This collection has 3 interconnected stories starring hell cops, Jay Yervant, Sam Argent and Ben Moran. Each story is a police procedural/mystery with an innocent bystander who found himself entangled in the case and with a hell cop.


    Next of Kin by Astrid Amara

    This introduces us to the world of hell cops by way of country bumpkin Brian Day who left his cultish roots to look for his father in Parmas City. He was working at the hospital assisting nurses when he spotted a man literally on fire and offered him a glass of water. He turned out to be hell cop Jay Yervant.

    Jay was so taken by the young man that he followed (well, stalked really) him to his apartment and witnessed (he was peeping) Brian’s rather spicy interaction with an incubus that almost turned tragic. The two were thrown together when more threats to Brian’s life surfaced.

    This is a strong opener. It built the world smoothly as Brian navigates his way around the metropolis and Jay providing a more experienced perspective. It then flips the dynamics with Jay as the virgin and Brian introducing him to the sensual delights of human touch. By virtue of his powers, Jay expels too much energy and burns everything he touches. But to his amazement, Brian can touch him without harm.

    Family is the key theme. Jay is from the prominent hotblood family of the Yervants. Brian’s search for his father led him to another hotblood family, the Sairs, whose scion was suspected of illegal activities.

    From what was a seemingly unrelated case of demons massacring kindergartners to a long lost father to Jay and Brian’s blossoming romance, everything was built up really well and came together splendidly. The mystery was an intriguing one and made me want to learn more about the hotbloods and Parmas City.

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

    Soundtrack: Touch
    Artist: Daft Punk feat. Paul Williams
    Album: Random Access Memory


    Red Sands by Nicole Kimberling

    This is a story of half demon anthropologist Michael Gold framed for the murder of his cousin. The hell cop handling his case was Sam Argent, who he later realized was the same guy he hooked up with one summer.

    This is my least favorite of the three. For one, we only get Michael’s POV. I understand that this is to highlight Michael’s telepathy and Sam’s mysterious unreadable appeal. But I had a hard time connecting to the hell cop’s character which made the romance unconvincing. Another thing I was unimpressed with was how unprofessional Sam was sleeping with the main suspect.

    The mystery here wasn’t as compelling as the first but I liked that we get the perspective of somebody with a demonic blood. I wished this was developed more because it would be interesting to get a demon’s POV. However, this story meshed well with the general vibe of the book so I still liked it.

    Rating:
    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: Read Your Mind
    Artist: Enya II
    Album: Read Your Mind


    Touching Sparks by Ginn Hale

    A slow burn, age gap, hell cop/informant romance of Ben Moran and James Sparks, the photojournalist who was helping him take down a corrupt official. As the story progressed, we learn more about the plight of hapless demons, often treated worse than animals, hidden behind the ostentatious wealth and power of hotbloods.

    Ben and James were the best couple and the most interesting characters. Ben has known James as a teenager. James has been crushing on Ben since forever. The older man has suffered the loss of his lover and has closed himself off.

    I’m glad we get James’ and Ben’s POVs. The hell cop is attracted to James but does not act on it. Especially because he was someone Ben watched grew up. There’s a lot of USTs simmering between them and I love the anticipation that built up through the story.

    I totally loved James’ spunky spirit! He’s a brave soul who took in upon himself to investigate a prominent official illegal activities. He almost got himself killed if not for a bunny suit. But it didn’t stop him from pursuing his target. He was clever and resourceful. Despite being completely human, he fought a dragon and saved a sorcerer’s life.

    This is a great blend of suspense, action and mystery with high stakes, nasty villains, a beautiful romance and a sweet ending. This is my favorite of the three.

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

    Soundtrack: SPARK-AGAIN
    Artist: Aimer
    Album: SPARK-AGAIN


    All three Hell Cop stories fit together seamlessly while letting us see the city through several sets of eyes. The authors did a great job great job creating this magical demon world. I’m so glad that stories were by no means over because we have more cases to investigate in Hell Cop 2.

    Overall Rating:
    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 Hell Cop. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

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    LAST YEAR I WAS READING…(February 24, 2021)

    This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.

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    Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector – Nicole Kimberling

    Vampire Hunter. Leprechaun Fighter. Food Inspector. Keith Curry has his work cut out for him. NATO’s Irregulars Affairs Division is a secret organization operating in thousands of cities around the globe. Its agents police relations between the earthly realm and those beyond this world, protecting citizens from both mundane and otherworldly dangers. Former chef turned NIAD food inspector, Special Agent Keith Curry found out about magic the hard way and is now determined to keep dinner safe for everybody. Includes the novellas Cherries Worth Getting, Magically Delicious and the never-before-published Bring Out Your Best plus bonus shorts and more!

    The shared world of Irregulars is the kind of well-realized world authors can play around with and have lots of fun. I enjoyed the original Irregulars anthology where every conceivable mythological creature is real and there are special agents doing magical investigations. I had hoped for more stories about NIAD and all the humans and extra-humans like Rake and Archer, Deven and Silas, and Half-dead Henry and Jason.

    Nicole Kimberling happily granted my wish with a short story collection about former chef and food inspector Special Agent Keith Curry and his boyfriend, trans-goblin and NIAD strike force member, Gunther Heartman. I like the slice-of-life feel of the interrelated short story format because I can read about several different cases while keeping up to date with Keith and Gunther’s relationship without having to deal with too many details. 

    Keith describes himself as average but he’s pretty damn good at his job. He goes above and beyond and gets into a lot of trouble. He has no magic but he gets by with tenacity, quick thinking and a bit of luck. Gunther is a snow goblin who was magically transformed into human form in-utero. He is blue-eyed, dark haired, really good looking and very loyal to Keith. He is close to his mom and dad and his gazillion cousins in the Heartman clan. And despite his ferocious goblin lineage, he is an “all-around sweetheart”. I love them both!

    Cherries Worth Getting: posted here

    Cookie Jamboree: I keep hearing about this Cookie Jamboree Gunther was so gung-ho about. Nice to know that the perfect Gunther Heartman has a dorky side. Cookie cutter collection?! Really?!

    The Little Golden Book of Goblin Stories: Because goblin moms are the best! Expect to feel teary-eyed.

    Magically Delicious: Keith deals with potty mouth leprechauns and missing pixies while Gunther is hospitalized. He gets three wishes but what would he wish for? Needless to say, this case involves defying death in creative ways. This story’s a win.

    The Most Important Meal of the Day: The apocalypse has arrived. Keith makes breakfast for a lazy-ass wizard as the world falls apart. Equal parts urgent and laid-back. My favorite of the collection.

    Bring Out Your Best: Contaminated blood investigation takes Keith and Gunther from vampire bars and deadly entertainment sports arenas to air force bases where Keith talks to a jet plane. Also, unsubtle hints from Gunther but Keith thinks he might not be good enough to be a Heartman. For crying out loud, just do it, Keith!!! That ending tho ( ˘⌣˘)♡(˘⌣˘ )

    This is such a fun read! Definitely recommended!

    P.S.

    I’m not into the genre but man, those goblins love their metal. Keith likes it too, so a metal love song for you both. 

    I received a copy of Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector from Blind Eye Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    Rating:

    Cherries Worth Getting  –  3.5 stars

    Cookie Jamboree – 4 Stars
    The Little Golden Book of Goblin Stories – 4.5 Stars
    Magically Delicious – 4 Stars
    The Most Important Meal of the Day – 4.5 Stars
    Bring Out Your Best – 4 Stars

    Overall: 

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Entrails of You
    Artist: Suffocation
    Album: Suffocation

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38814322-grilled-cheese-and-goblins)

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    Irregulars – 

    Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale, and Astrid Amara

    It’s a secret international organization operating in cities on every continent. It polices relations between the earthly realm and those beyond this world, enforcing immigration laws, the transfers of magical artifacts, and crimes against humanity.

    The agents who work for the NATO Irregular Affairs Division can’t tell anyone what they do, or how hard they work to keep us safe. It brings a colorful collection of men together:

    Agent Henry Falk, the undead bum. Agent Keith Curry, former carnivore chef turned vegetarian; Agent Rake, Babylonian demon with a penchant for easy living; and Agent Silas August, uncompromising jerk.

    Four cities, four mysteries, four times the romance. Is your security clearance high enough to read on?

    Cherries Worth Getting by N. Kimberling – made me glad I am a vegetarian. Former chef Keith Curry and trans-goblin Gunther Heartman investigate contraband food items while trying in vain to keep it professional between the two of them. Nicole Kimberling sets up a world where extra-humans exists side by side with regular people and the Secrecy Act is in place. Extra-humans being vampires, goblins, fae folks and other mythical creatures from all over the world. Foodies might get an extra kick with the gourmet part.

    Green Glass Beads by Josh Lanyon – a fluffy faery-demon romance that’s also a heist and an obsessive quest for family heirlooms. Sidhe politics and history were mentioned but not  elaborated upon. Archer, our half faery-half human protagonist, is an intelligence but impulsive ex-terrorist and Rake is the Irregular agent tasked to investigate him. This is my first Josh Lanyon story which, I’m glad, didn’t disappoint. It’s character-driven with demon action, magic and some heartwarming moments.

    No Life But This by Astrid Amara – Aztaw history and culture is fascinating and terrifying in equal measures. For a moment, I bought the whole Aztaw thing as a real Mexican mythology until I tried googling it. Silas August is a jerk who wears designer suits. Deven is both a childlike man and skilled assassin, a combination that has its own ironic appeal. This is my favorite of the bunch since it was dark, bloody and dangerous with slow build romance simmering underneath. 

    Things Unseen and Deadly by Ginn Hale – another sidhe story involving Half-dead Henry who was almost a century old and Jason Shamir, a young man struggling with what he thought were hallucinations. I like how this is connected with the first story and a good wrap-up of the series.

    Rating:

    Cherries Worth Getting  –  3.5 stars
    Green Glass Beads – 3.5 stars
    No Life But This – 4 stars
    Things Unseen and Deadly – 3 stars

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

    Soundtrack: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets
    Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
    Album: Rated R

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12759444-irregulars)

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