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    REVIEW: Married To The Mobster by Leighton Greene

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    Morelli Family: Married To The Mobster – Leighton Greene

    The Mob sent him to kill me, but he owed me a debt…

    Years ago I saved his life, and we spent one hot night together before he disappeared. Now this bad boy’s all grown up, and living a dangerous life. But when his Family decides to send a message to my father, it’s my life on the line.

    Only he can’t bring himself to do it when he realizes who I am.

    He bargains for my life.

    He argues to keep me as a hostage instead of killing me.

    He even agrees to marry me, but not for love.

    Marrying me is the only way he can repay the debt he owes me.

    He tells me he’ll keep me alive only as long as his Boss allows it.

    What he doesn’t know is that I’ve loved him since the first moment I laid eyes on him. I’ll take him any way I can get him. Sleeping with the enemy never felt so good…

    But is there someone else who wants me dead?


    New-to-me author Leighton Greene delivers a highly enjoyable mafia-themed story about a sassy Irish mobster’s son who knew his shit and a flawed but ambitious Italian mobster who tried his hardest not to feel.

    Married to the Mobster opens with a meet cute that soon turned bloody. Finch spots Luca at the dance floor. The attraction was instant and mutual. Luca was later attacked outside the club. Finch found him, patched him up, spent the night with him then (reluctantly) went their separate ways.

    Fast forward 5 years later and their second meet cute also involved violence. Finch has a hit on him. He was abducted by the Morelli and Luca pleads for his life. Mob boss Tino grants pardon on the condition Luca marries Finch.

    These first parts is where the story really shines. The meetings played out wonderfully and I loved how the connection between Finch and Luca took root and grew into something inevitable.

    I love Finch! He’s a fascinating combination of a spoiled billionare’s son and a streetsmart survivor. He has quite a mouth on him but he’s got a good heart and sees a person’s true worth .

    Luca might be more difficult to like. In some ways, he’s your typical confident alpha male / tough bastard. As the story progressed, it becomes apparent that he lacks knowledge when it comes to the finer things in life because he grew up poor. He also lacks a certain kind of sophistication needed to move in higher circles. But all he ever wants is to keep Finch safe and give him everything he needs. So clearly, he knows his priorities.

    Married to the Mobster is, first and foremost, a romance so the mafia politics side of the story wasn’t as strongly delivered as I would have liked. Most of it was the looming threat on Finch’s life. It did provide some unexpected twists later on.

    My favorite part was Finch’s unwavering efforts to bring out the best in Luca. He truly believed in his man. Also, even if he is selfless, he knew when to put his foot down when he had enough of his husband’s hot and cold treatment.

    There was also a potentially intriguing part at the beginning when Finch had a death wish. It would have been nice if this was explored but it just fizzled out when he got involved with Luca.

    Sadly, the second part of the story lost some of its luster. Luca was being bullheaded in keeping his distance. All to stay in business and keep his husband alive. Finch was doing all he could to convince Luca that working together is going to do them both a world of good. The back and forth did dragged bit but it was something they had to go through while Luca struggled with his feelings and responsibilities.

    Well, Luca tried his damnedest to deny there are real feelings between them but Finch knew his man well. Knew that the husband who keeps him at arms length is a snuggle slut. Knew that the man who wears cheap polyester suits he claims are Armanis deserves the real thing. Knew the mobster who doesn’t know the proper silverware to use is going to rule New York City one day. Finch even told him so their first night together. And he is going to make it happened.

    P.S.

    I can’t wait when he does!

    The story ends in HFN and continues in Beloved by the Boss.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Toi Et Moi
    Artist: Paradis
    Album: Recto Verso


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    SERIES REVIEW: The Marchesi Family by Silvia Violet

    I wrote off Silvia Violet because of His True Nature, a novella that had the personality of an oatmeal. That was way back 2017. Since then, I never bothered with her works.

    Then Angelo caught my attention. I was in the mood for some dark mafia-themed romance and the blurb intrigued me. So heck, why not.

    The thing with this series is that, for the most part, I really didn’t care for the romance. BDSM is not my thing.

    But the Marchesi family charmed me with their unconditional love for each other and willingness to die for their loved ones. No one could question their loyalty to each other.

    They are portrayed as a typical close-knit Italian family who always have good food at their table. They take breakfast seriously. I almost wish I am a morning person so I could eat the smorgasbord of delights their housekeeper always prepare every morning.

    The books are classified as erotica and there are a lot of sex scenes. You can just skip those if you want (makes the reading go faster too). The plot is substantial enough. There are probably some nuances to the couple dynamics I might have missed but I don’t really care.

    There’s also the mafia politics, something I always loved reading about. This part worked well with romance especially how it brought the couples together. I liked how the various plotlines were integrated.

    Each book features a different member of the notorious Marchesi family and the men they brought into their world of crime and cannoli.

    The overarching arc is the threat to overthrow the Marchesi family by rival mafia families. The Marchesi have their allies, among which, Vinnie, who was a son of another mob boss and who was featured in a short story.

    We’ll start with Lucien…


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    The Marchesi Family: Lucien – Silvia Violet

    I never imagined the protector I longed for would be a mob boss who demanded complete control.
    I shouldn’t have gone to Lucien’s office.
    Once I looked into his eyes, I couldn’t leave.
    He commanded me to kneel.
    Beg.
    Obey.
    I couldn’t help myself.
    One taste, and I craved more.
    Lucien vowed to protect me from his enemies…
    But who’s going to protect my heart from him
    ?


    Lucien is the illustrious head of the family. He’s bossy and scary AF. He’s always perfectly put together. He has a sweet tooth. He can drink until he passes out but wakes up the next morning sparkly and fresh. He is, according to Peter, ‘magical‘.

    Peter is a sweet young man struggling to find a job. He was tricked by his cousin to fill in a position as a receptionist at some posh company. Little did he know, the company was own by the Marchesi.

    So at Peter’s first day of work, in walks Lucien, saw the angelic new receptionist and decided, then and there, he was his. It was that insta.

    Stripped of the BDSM elements, this is a whirlwind romantic fairy tale of sorts where the damsel was swept away by the prince to his castle. But instead of the prince, you get a crime lord.

    Lucien is Lucien but Peter was a little to submissive for my liking. Still, you couldn’t really hate on somebody pure like him. He’s not entirely helpless and has quick wits about him. He even helped save Lucien. He was exactly what the mob boss needed in his life.

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

    Soundtrack: You Belong To me
    Artist: The Boxer Rebellion
    Album: Promises


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    The Marchesi Family: Mob Boss – Silvia Violet

    I let Vinnie seduce me.
    I was an easy mark.
    I would have granted him anything, but I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t know I was setting a man up for death.
    But even now I still want him, and he has no intention of letting me go.


    This is pretty much a condensed version of Lucien and Peter’s story. The difference is that Tom witnessed a crime and Vinnie had to protect him. This is 40 pages of alternate sex scenes and whatever plot there is so there’s really not much of an exploration of their characters and relationship.

    This would have been better as a novella than a short story. All in all, it was kinda okay.

    Rating:
    2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like

    Soundtrack: Safe & Sound
    Artist: Tonight Alive
    Album: What Are You So Scared Of?


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    The Marchesi Family: Angelo – Silvia Violet

    Cameron didn’t realize how much he loved his grandparents’ bakery until Angelo Marchesi, a man he’s hated since high school, threatened to take it away.
    But Cameron owes Angelo a debt.
    A debt he can’t pay…
    Unless he accepts Angelo’s indecent proposal and risks finding out how thin the line between love and hate really is.


    Angelo is more similar to his cousin, Devil than his autocratic brother, Lucien. The cousins are Lucien’s enforcers.

    Angelo and Devil were inseparable since they were toddlers. They were both reckless and bisexual. They cover for each other, especially when one or the other is in trouble with Lucien or the police.

    Angelo and Cameron had mutual crushes on each other from high school but with Angelo’s reputation being what it is, he scared Cameron away.

    Cam came back to his hometown after burning himself out in the corporate world. He inherited his family’s bakery and was determined to make it work. His deadbeat dad had almost run it to the ground. Then he learned the bastard owed the Marchesis money. One day, Angelo came to collect.

    Angelo and Cam’s interactions were antagonistic from the start. Angelo thinks Cam looks down on him for having the kind of family he has. Cam wants nothing to do with the mafia but he was secretly envious the kind of loving family Angelo had.

    I’m not a fan of the dubcon scenes but unlike Peter who was 100% submissive, Cameron has more fire in him. It also took him longer to accept the mafia part of Angelo’s life but when he finally did, he fit right in.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Thinking Of You
    Artist: A Perfect Circle
    Album: Mer De Noms


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    The Marchesi Family: Devil – Silvia Violet

    Devil is a mobster with a dangerous secret…
    There’s a cop who hates him.
    A cop he caught and released.
    A cop he can’t get out of his mind after the one forbidden night they shared.


    This is my favorite book and Devil is my favorite character in the series. Whereas Angelo was a health buff, Devil relishes a good cigar. Devil goes above and beyond to protect his family but he’s not above keeping his affair with a cop secret.

    I liked the cop/criminal dynamic between Joe and Devil. Joe is actually a forgettable character in any other book, but being paired with somebody as unpredictable as Devil added another dimension to his personality. Plus, the fact that he was attracted to a dangerous man shows he’s not exactly vanilla. He also brought out Devil’s endearing mother-henning side which was fun to see.

    I also liked that both men were dominant so the power dynamics were balanced. It made the tension between the two so much enticing because you’ll never know who’ll come out on top.

    This book wraps the series up. The threat to the family was put to an end for good. Characters for a new series weres introduced. They piqued my interest so I’m looking forward to that.

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

    Soundtrack: Me and The Devil
    Artist: Soap & Skin
    Album: Sugarbread


    I guess I was too hasty with this author. She made me care about the Marchesis so much that I read all the books in quick succession. The series is dark but has a lot of heart. Certainly no oatmeals this time.

    If the new spin-off series is as good as this, I’ll probably end up binge reading it too. Moral of the story: Don’t judge an author by one bad story. Sometimes, they could surprise you.

    P.S.

    These Marchesis are a tight bunch so while the books could be read as standalones, it’s best read in sequence.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Criminal Delights Books 6, 11 & 14

    On to my quest to partake everything the Criminal Delights series has to offer.

    This is is a review of three books from the series, By Way of Pain by J.M. Dabney, Beloved Possession by Leona Windwalker and To Have and To Hold by Abigail Kade.

    All three books have a BDSM theme wherein a captive was taken against his will, subjected to training, develops feeling for captor, gets taken again by worse elements and rescued by original captor turned love interest. With several variations on the Stockholm Syndrome, some pulled it off spectacularly, others a paler version of themselves.


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    Criminal Delights: Assassins: By Way of Pain – J.M. Dabney

    Double lives were just the way it was for a man like me. By day I was a man with a reputation above reproach. Even assassins needed backup plans. For fifteen years, life was going without a hitch until I had to take out a witness. When it was time to kill him, beautiful eyes filled with fear urged me to do something else. Yet, in order to do that, I had to break him, and by way of pain, my captive would experience pleasure he’d never dreamed.

    This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.
    Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.


    I read somewhere that assassins are really just serial killers for hire. That is basically Cowen.

    By day, he’s a successful defense attorney. At night, he takes jobs. And he doesn’t do it purely for the money. He’s a misanthrope who likes making people suffer. He has been killing people since he was a child. He said it himself that he doesn’t feel things the way normal people do. He doesn’t enjoy sex or even feel aroused . I was getting my hopes up that finally, we are going to get an asexual dom, but no. They had to have sex because that’s the way this series rolls.

    Cowen’s personal assistant is Harrison. Harrison has a bad crush on his enigmatic boss. He’s too shy to do anything about it.

    On day, while in the parking lot, Harrison witness a guy being attacked and then the attacker turned on him. The next thing he knew, he was held captive by a man wearing a mask. And forced to do humiliating and painful things.

    This book stands out for having MCs with diverse body types. Harrison is a plus size bear while Cowen was described as gaunt. Interestingly, it was Harrison who submits to Cowen’s dominance. Cowen could really be dominating. So dominating that you’d forget he’s really a skinny guy who had to wear lifts in his shoes to appear taller.

    By Way of Pain is high on the darkness spectrum. It was kept from becoming pitch black by the tender connection that blossomed between Cowen and Harrison. Harrison is oh so slowly, making Cowen feel things. And given the kind of person Cowen is, “I have no desire to kill you” is probably the only way he will say I love you.

    Cute!

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

    Soundtrack: Pain and Pleasure
    Artist: Divinyls
    Album: What A Life!


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    Criminal Delights: Organized Crime: Beloved Possession – Leona Windwalker

    Ishmael Lux.
    A name synonymous with wealth. The elite come to him- to stay in his hotels and to play in his club, both for business and for pleasure. He has a secret, though. It’s rather an open one, though believed by most to be rumour and speculation.

    Kristoffer Jones.
    A new hire of Triborr Property Management International, one of Lux’s many legitimate fronts. He was thrilled to be in London, straight on the heels of being informed he was being moved onto the management track. Some rumours are best left unconfirmed, as he discovers when he finds himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

    Ishmael saw it as an opportunity..
    As with all opportunities that will pay off handsomely, he takes it. Then, he locks Kris away. Kristoffer is his and he is never going to let him go.

    The kicker?
    Kris is rapidly becoming unsure if he wants to be free.

    *This book is written in UK English.


    Beloved Possession had, unfortunately, the most unconvincing transition from possession to beloved.

    It’s compounded by the fact the the lead characters were forgettable. I appreciated that Ishmael has successfully built a billion-dollar company and has a close circle of men that was very, very loyal to him. But he lacked the charm of other doms.

    Kris was so bland, I don’t see why Ishmael was so enamored with him other than he’s pretty and malleable. The only interesting point about Kris is that he’s half-Filipino. This is rare in MM especially as a lead character.

    I forced myself to slog through this story in the hopes that it would get better. I ended up skimming.

    I say pass on this.

    Rating:
    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book

    Soundtrack: My Possession
    Artist: Ministry
    Album: Twitch


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    Criminal Delights: Taken: To Have and To Hold – Abigail Kade

    My name is Worthington Winters, and I have a confession before I die. I know he’s a killer. I know one day he’ll even kill me, but I don’t care. Because I feel more free with my captor than I ever did with my husband.

    My husband courted me, seduced me, ensnared me, then subjugated me in my own home. He pushed and I would bend. Until, one day he pushed too far, and I pushed back. I escaped and thought I was free, but I was so wrong.

    Now, my Captor has me in his grasp. He’s supposed to squeeze me until I give him the information I took from my husband. I’ll never do it, so I know I’m destined to die. But, he’s beginning to see beyond my scars, my shriveled heart, and he’s forcing me to look, too.

    As he makes me look into the darkest depths of my soul, I finally find my truth, who I truly am and want to be. As strange as it may be, through the sweetest pain and most exquisite torture he inflicts, I’ll finally feel free.

    The truth may give me a new life I never existed. If I can survive.

    This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.
    Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.


    To Have and To Hold is a terrific combination of dark and cute.

    Worthy suffered abuse from his evil husband who frequently humiliated his desires as a masochist while hurting him without his consent. The husband also stole his money and his family’s company. Worthy was able to get his properties back and he ran away. The bastard then set an assassin on his tracks.

    Crow is an ethical assassin. By that, he only kills the guilty. He caught Worthy and had every intent to make him suffer. Until he learned the truth.

    That’s when things turn sweet and fluffy with the way Crow was taking care of Worthy. It’s pretty fucked up that a person who has been abuse likes pain and Worthy’s evil husband used that against him. Crow showed Worthy the way to pleasure and pain without the humiliation.

    I love Worthy! He crawled his way out of a hellish marriage and decided to wear things that only makes him happy. He has the best fashion sense. I would gladly wear one of his kawaii statement shirts with adorable animal prints.

    Crow was a teddy bear. The fierce, morally grey part of him had no qualms about killing or torture. But he was also willing to break a contract if the target was proven innocent. Even feeding and clothing said target when the man looked liked he needed some TLC. He dropped everything and rescued his boy when Worthy was taken the second time. Also bought him more kawaii clothes.

    Crow belongs to a group of ethical assassins, what I liked to call the Bird Boys because they use birds as code names. I’m not sure if there are other books about these boys but I would love to read all about them. Especially Os a.k.a. Osprey a.k.a Obediah who had some very questionable exes.

    This is my favorite out of the three.

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

    Soundtrack: Submission
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Superheroes


    Two wins out of three is not so bad. I still have a few ways to go before I finished the entire series. Even with the mixed reviews, I think this series is worth the time.

    Wondering which Criminal Delights books to read and which ones to pass up? Check out the reviews here.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: The Killough Company Books 1-2 by M.D. Gregory

    The Killough Company is an Irish mob headed by Sloan Killough, an enigmatic and charismatic man who has no problems getting his hand dirty. He has a nephew, Fionn who is his heir to a company compose of mostly good looking mobsters who may or may not be sleeping with each other.

    Sloan likes having pets. He dotes on them and treats them as his beloved possession. He had 4 so far and most of them had tragic endings. That is until he met Conall Morrissey, co-provocateur of a brothel called Exotic Virtue.

    This series starts with the story of how the boss found his forever pet. The other books feature how other members of his company found their HEA.

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    1. The Boss – M.D. Gregory

    Conall Morrissey’s life is pretty bloody easy. He helps his brother take care of the whores at The Exotic Virtue, an exclusive high-end brothel owned by The Killough Company. They might not be earning as much as the other brothels, but if they make ends meet, the Morrisey brothers can get by fine. Until they get a visit from the boss of the mob who owns it, Sloan Killough.

    Sloan Killough means business. He’s brash, violent, and tough. He’s the boss for a reason and he doesn’t deal in excuses or exceptions. He visits The Exotic Virtue for a taste of his product, and when he sees Conall, he knows he must have him as his pet. When Sloan demands Conall on his knees, Conall’s horrified. He may be bisexual, but he’s not the guy who takes it. When his brother sells him like one of their whores, Conall has no choice but to submit to their boss if he and his brother wants to live.

    Being a whore to a mob boss isn’t what Conall expects. He fights Sloan’s orders at every chance he gets, but the boss seems to enjoy the fights, and has no problem in teaching Conall his place. Conall promises himself he won’t give in, but with each touch and taste, he finds himself addicted to the dark, dangerous man who could rip out his throat the very moment he gets bored of him.

    Trigger Warnings: This book is a dark romance. It contains triggering scenes which includes public humiliation, ownership, and violence. If you’re unsure whether you wish to read this book, feel free to contact the author for more detailed warnings.


    I first met Sloan and Conall in M.D. Gregory‘s Criminal Delights story, Sinner’s Ransom, where they nearly stole the show. My interest was pique by their unique relationship. Why would a man be proud to be somebody’s pet?

    I was super amused by the fact that Conall was comparing notes with a fellow Stockholm Syndrome victim, Monty, the protagonist of Sinner’s Ransom.

    I knew I had to dig into this further.

    I wasn’t disappointed.

    Sloan knew there was something about Conall the first time he saw him. He saw the fire in him and it was lust at first sight. Conall obviously did not want to be somebody’s pet. He’s a provocateur, not a whore for fuck’s sake!

    He did not want to admit, even to himself, that he found Sloan attractive. He tried to be as bratty and rebellious as he could be. But Sloan has his ways of disciplining a.k.a winning over his pet. You got to hand it to the boss, he can be quite irresistible in his own way as Conall was fast learning.

    The pet aspect is iffy if you think about it too much. And please do heed the warnings. In terms of ‘dark’, there were dub-con scenes that were uncomfortable, i.e. forcing Conall to have sex in front of an audience. Language is very non-PC, a lot of pussy and whores. However, the violence was not graphic, the torture scenes short and to the point.

    What makes this a winner for me was how progression of Sloan and Conall’s relationship was depicted. The development of feelings were authentic and left no doubts that the two men were a perfect match.

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

    Soundtrack: At Your Command
    Artist: Informatik
    Album: Re:Vision


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    1.5. The Boss’s Christmas – M.D. Gregory

    It’s been months since Conall Morrissey was taken and tortured by his boss’s enemies. But even though everyone is living in peace, at least for the time being, Connall isn’t content. Sloan has been keeping him away from business meetings, and Conall begins to wonder if Sloan is growing bored of him already.

    As a peace offering, Sloan decides to take Conall to Miami for Christmas. Getting away from the cold winter weather is the perfect way to relax and help Connall forget everything that’s happened. He wants to treat his pet, but Conall seems to be slipping further away, and Sloan fears his pet blames him for his kidnapping.

    Can they find a way to communicate? Or will their first Christmas be their last?


    This one’s cute and fluffy. As fluffy as dark romance can be.

    Sloan takes Conall to Miami for Christmas. The feelings were becoming strongly felt and obvious to anyone who has eyes. Still, Conall claims it’s just sex. He’s also being extra bratty and Sloan knew something’s wrong with his beloved pet.

    A Talk is in order.

    This is a fantastic epilogue to book 1. Nobody could mistake Sloan as weak but he could be a big romantic softie when it comes to Conall. The man would literally die for his pet. The Talk was squeetastic ~ ♡! They were adorbs!

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

    Soundtrack: The Fall
    Artist: Half Alive
    Album: 3


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    2. The Professional – M.D. Gregory

    Rourke Tormey lived and breathed for the Killough Mob. After his father doomed their family by betrayal, the only thing that kept them alive was Sloan’s leniency and trust, and Rourke made it his mission to prove to the boss that he’d done the right thing. So when Sloan asked him to run the Exotic Virtue, he worked his ass off to raise its standards and bring in more influential clientele. Falling in love with his highest earning professional isn’t part of his plan.

    Forrest Brassard grew up in a foster home. He knew what it felt like to not belong and joining the Virtue as a professional gave him what he always searched for—love, even if it was only from a different man every hour. When Rourke took over, it was lust at first sight. He wanted the Irish soldier.

    Their romance is forbidden. Between Rourke’s resistance and Forrest’s determination, the struggle of falling in love is one that both may lose. When a certain detective is out to bring the Killough Company crashing to the ground, they must work together with Sloan and Conall to make sure it’s her career that goes up in flames instead of the Virtue.


    Rourke was the guy who took over Exotic Virtue after Conall became Sloan’s pet. He is a no-nonesense man who loves rules. Sloan trusts him completely despite aspersions being cast on his loyalty because of what his father did before.

    Forrest was Conall’s ex and later bestfriend. He’s the highest earning professional in Exotic Virtue. He’s sassy, friendly and a caring big brother to the other professionals in the house.

    Forrest is a sweetheart and Rourke has a good heart. Both were likable characters I would like to see have their HEA. Their story was pegged as forbidden romance but sadly, the forbidden part wasn’t as strongly played as I would have liked. I didn’t feel any apprehension that some dire consequence will befall them should they start a relationship.

    I enjoyed majority of the book, mostly because there were a lot of Sloan and Conall appearances. We learn more about the inner workings of the whorehouse and the drama between the professionals.

    This was actually a longer book so I had assumed there was enough page time for a proper buildup and climax. Sadly, it was not to be. For some reason, the last 20% was so rushed it left me scratching my head. Maybe the author was going for a cliffhanger but I wish the last parts were done properly.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Sugar
    Artist: Garbage
    Album: Not Your Kind of People


    Even with a problematic ending like that I still liked all three books. The writing is easy to go through and for a dark romance, did not feel heavy at all. There was even a humorous undertone to the narrative at some points.

    While it’s highly unlikely you will get a mob full of good-looking men in real life, the Killough Company boys were worth knowing. I’m looking forward to the next books and definitely, more Sloan and Conall.

    P.S.

    If you like dark romance, check out Criminal Delights, a series featuring stories that are not for the faint of heart. Reviews here
    M.D. Gregory books here

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

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    Can’t Hide From Me – Cordelia Kingsbridge

    Charles Hunter’s team is on a mission to extract an unidentified ATF agent from an undercover job gone wrong. All they’ve got to go on is the rendezvous location—until Charles recognizes the ex he hasn’t seen in years. Their “simple rescue mission” is about to get a lot more complicated.

    For Ángel Medina, adjusting to life after his cartel nightmare is hard enough without confronting memories of a failed relationship. All he wants is a fresh start. But when a violent stalker lashes out from the shadows, Ángel realizes his nightmare is far from over.

    As the stalker’s obsession escalates and bodies start dropping, Charles and Ángel are thrown together in a desperate search for the culprit. Tempers flare and old passions reignite, drawing them back into the same turbulent relationship that once ended in disaster.

    But the stalker isn’t letting go—and the next strike might hit straight through the heart.


    The thing with mysteries is that whenever a non-spoiler spoiler says, “I guessed the unsub the moment the character was introduced”, I immediately zero in on the suspect. This does not necessarily ruin the reading experience, especially if the writing is engaging but well, I already know what to expect.

    This is the case for Can’t Hide From Me, a standalone novel from the author of Seven Of Spades, Cordelia Kingsbridge. The stalker’s identity became obvious when I got the hint but this book is as gripping as her famous series. She writes suspense with a deft hand and she was able to keep those edge-of-my-seat feels going until the last page.

    Emotions ran high as tension of every kind filled the scenes from page one. ATF undercover agent, Angel Medina barely escaped the clutches of the cartel when his extraction nearly went haywire at the start of the story, then immediately right after, found himself the target of a dangerous stalker. As if he did not have enough problems, he and Charles Hunter, also ATF, had a bitter breakup two years prior and ugly feelings resurfaced after they met again and worked in the same team. At the same time, their attraction remained as strong as ever and both were powerless to resist.

    Charles glanced sideways, watching Ángel curled up comfortably on his couch, barefoot and wearing Charles’s T-shirt. How could he haver ever talked himself into believing this was going to work? He’d never been able to spend any length of time in Ángel’s company without fucking him, fighting with him, or doing both simultaneously. Ángel had set Charles on fire the moment they’d met, and while those flames had banked and flared over the years, they’d never been extinguished.

    There were some unwise decisions from both parties that complicated the already volatile situation. One particularly stupid move was Angel hitting the clubs just hours after his extraction, fully aware he had a target on his back because that’s how badly he needed to get laid. Charles claiming he had self-control when they know he had zero when it comes to Angel. So he just had to invite Angel to stay in his apartment with the intent of keeping him safe (that’s what he told everybody and himself). Both threw professionalism to the wind because they simply can’t keep their hands off each other. So now they’re both targets of the stalker. Fan-fucking-tastic.

    I liked how the author developed Charles and Angel individually and as a couple. Charles is more level-headed, serious and a closeted bi while Angel is more spontaneous, hot-tempered and openly gay. The latter also has a degree on psychology(?) and was not afraid to use psychological tactics when it suits him. For the most part, it seemed that their connection was only sexual but a closer look revealed deeper feelings running underneath.

    I also liked how the issue of Charles coming out as bi was incorporated into the story, not just making it the usual coming out woes, but that it’s something that actually affected the course of events and had serious consequences for the MCs. This revelation came as a bigger surprise to me and made me see Charles and Angel in a different light.

    The chemistry between the two men was undeniable although I’m not sure they’re healthy for each other. One manipulated the other, the other was also a prick and there was too much history between them. It wasn’t until the end when they let it all out that the two of them together finally felt right.

    In keeping with her other books, CK created a diverse and interesting cast with emphasis on giving many important and relatively atypical (for MM) roles for her female characters. And if you have read her other books, you know what that usually means to the story. (^_−)☆

    Narrator Nick J. Russo did a great job as usual. Each character stood out and his female voices were convincing and varied. His Mexican accent for Angel was beautiful! I think that was the best rendition of the accent I’ve heard so far. I’m kind of not sure about the pronunciation of the name though. He pronounced it as ‘an-hel’, I thought it should be ‘ang-hel’. Maybe Mexicans say it differently from us despite similar Spanish influences. Anyhoo…

    I might not love it as much as SOS but overall, Can’t Hide From Me is a well-written and highly entertaining action/mystery story with a tumultuous romantic side plot. Recommended if you’re looking for steamy, suspenseful stories about feds fucking and fighting (crass, I know but that’s what they did)

    P.S.

    Cordelia Kingsbridge books here

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: No One Knows
    Artist: Queens Of The Stone Age
    Album: Songs For The Deaf

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Cash Plays by Cordelia Kingsbridge

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    Seven Of Spades: Cash Plays – Cordelia Kingsbridge

    The Seven of Spades is back with a vengeance—the vigilante serial killer has resumed their murderous crusade, eluding the police at every turn. But a bloodthirsty killer isn’t the only threat facing Sin City. A devious saboteur is wreaking havoc in Las Vegas’s criminal underworld, and the entire city seems to be barreling toward an all-out gang war.

    As Detective Levi Abrams is pushed ever closer to his breaking point, his control over his dangerous rage slips further every day. His relationship with PI Dominic Russo should be a source of comfort, but Dominic is secretly locked in his own downward spiral, confronting a nightmare he can’t bear to reveal.

    Las Vegas is floundering. Levi and Dominic’s bond is cracking along the seams. And the Seven of Spades is still playing to win. How many bad hands can Levi and Dominic survive before it’s game over?

    I know that the things that happened with Levi and Dom here were big, but can we stop first and take a moment to appreciate the bittersweet romance between the Slavic Collective boss Sergei and his boy Rocco? They need their own book!

    Also, somebody give Stanton some love. The poor man has a good heart, he deserves an HEA. I liked him since book 1.

    So Levi and Dom…

    It started very sparkly and lovey dovey with the two men taking a long vacation, flowers and exchanges of I-love-yous, also meeting Levi’s parents. Levi’s mom declared Dom Levi’s bashert which means soulmate. All very squee-tastic and heartwarming. It will lull you into thinking that everything’s coming up roses. But I KNEW!!! Shit’s going down!

    Dom landed a case of a missing woman. The investigation took him to a hidden casino and Dom was recovering from his gambling addiction so gadammit Dom, WALK AWAY NOW!!!

    Meanwhile, the Seven of Spades was uncharacteristically quiet for weeks but LVMPD is ramping up the investigation by bringing in the Feds. FBI profiler Rohan Chaudhary came in, dazzled Levi with his good looks and put his moves on Dom. He also detailed the profile of the SOS which unfortunately fit Levi to a T. It didn’t help that that Levi’s anger issues were getting harder and harder to control which was obvious to everyone.

    “I can’t invite that kind of darkness inside myself. I don’t know what it would do to me, and I can’t risk finding out…” 

    All in all, they were not in a good place.

    But these only made the story so much more compelling and brought out strong emotions that had me hanging on to every word. I love how Cordelia Kingsbridge developed these characters. Levi’s demons, his trauma and Dom’s downward spiral, as cliche as it sounds, their struggles were real. Great representation too, in terms of racial and gender diversity, that was done in a way that was natural and realistic.

    I liked how this installment slowly built up all the frustration and tension until it went nuclear. There’s so much anger in this book. Even the SOS was ragey and it showed in their work. The profiler and Levi agreed that the SOS was evolving. It was established that they were connected to law enforcement and had experienced severe trauma in the past which made them go after the bad guys who got away with their crimes. The killer’s vigilante justice earned them many sympathizers even among the police ranks. One significant fact was that many people who joined law enforcement had some past trauma which made them want to bring justice. This made practically everybody in the LVMPD suspects.

    Interestingly, the serial killer seemed to have a vested interest in Levi’s love life, offering him comfort when he and Dom had that ugly fight. Theirs was the kind of blow up that caused cataclysmic cracks. And it ended with Levi walking away. Nooo!

    The fact that the SOS is too attached to Levi confirmed my suspicions that it’s one of his friends from work. Coupled with the knowledge that Rebel doesn’t react negatively to them, it’s definitely someone he and Dom were close to. I hope I guessed right. I could already imagine how devastated Levi would be.

    The SOS is one of those serial killers who has an omniscient presence and they are playing an even bigger game. They were not afraid to take on organized crime. Three major gangs were on the brink of an all-out gang war. This tied together with Dom’s case and his relapse but the SOS had to pull some strings to make Levi see what’s really happening. That shoddy undercover work and not having back-up was foolhardy on Levi’s part but definitely in character. Wen should really give him that talk about his poor decision making skills.

    As with the other books, Cash Play is cleverly written. It’s very twisty and suspenseful. Everything came together in the most satisfying way, though in this case, you will end up in a raging fit yourself because THAT CLIFFHANGER. Fuck.

    With Levi afraid and needing help and Dom eaten alive by his demons, the cards are stacked against them. It’s one bad hand after another and the SOS is holding all the aces. Time to cut losses and walk away from the game.

    P.S.

    Seven of Spades books here

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

    Soundtrack: Have A Lucky Day
    Artist: Morphine
    Album: Good

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Blood & Bitcoin by L.A. Witt

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    Criminal Delights: Organized Crime: Blood & Bitcoin – L.A. Witt

    Chris Emmett has a talent for screwing up and landing on his feet. As a SEAL, he managed to evade bullets and court-martials alike. As an FBI agent, he dodged danger and disciplinary action—right up until he didn’t.

    With his career and freedom hanging in the balance, he’ll do whatever it takes to clean the slate… including an off-the-books deep cover solo mission. 

    The objective: infiltrate the Hive, a complex crime syndicate operating on the dark web, and find out who’s trying to kill Piker, the organization’s enigmatic and strangely alluring Mob boss. 

    The moment he’s pulled into the Hive, Chris enters a world where no one is what they seem, including the man he’s there to protect. Lines blur between moral and wrong, legal and criminal, ally and foe, and—as Piker’s seductive magnetism draws Chris in—straight and queer. 

    Chris is running out of time to stop a killer. He has dangerous feelings for a dangerous man, and the deeper he moves into the realms of modern day organized crime, the less he knows and the fewer people he can trust.

    And that’s before he learns the truth about Piker’s assassin.
    ————
    This 104,000 word book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance. For other books in the collection, please see: 
    Criminal Delights Listopia

    Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

    L.A. Witt and Michael Ferraiuolo is my favorite author/narrator combination. With them at the helm, you’re almost always guaranteed a thrilling experience.

    Blood & Bitcoin was one hell of a ride but one that didn’t go full throttle the way I wanted it to. This is by far, the lightest among the dark offerings of the Criminal Delights series. The characters make many morally grey decisions and ‘the end justify the means’ actions but as emphasized by Chris, it is for the right reasons. Which is all good because, yeah these are people we can root for but sadly not what was advertised in the blurb aka it needed more blood.

    Also, there were moments where I just about had enough of Chris getting caught one too many times. And Piker forgiving him yet again and again and again. Oh, just shoot him already!

    I absolutely love Piker! The man is lethal and mesmerizing as fuck. His effect on both men and women is palpable. I could definitely understand why Chris was so drawn to him. Michael Ferraiuolo’s Piker voice is really spot on and the slight exotic accent added to the crime lord’s enigmatic appeal. His past remained a mystery throughout the entire book. He’s so mysterious we don’t even get his real name.

    Chris I liked less. He was too reckless. He was bumbling his way through the missions. I don’t know if he is just extremely lucky but his unorthodox methods worked somewhat. It helps that he got more chances than most people would dare ask from a Mafia boss. He and Piker play a dangerously exciting game of Golden Retriever & snake. Who bites who first? And for that matter, are we even sure who is the dog and who is the snake?

    Although the chemistry and USTs between Piker and Chris were always a tantalizing hair trigger away from snapping, the romance needed a little more boost. Majority of the book, it was just mostly sex for them which is meh. But the last quarter of the book made up for the missing feels and convinced me their HFN would eventually be HEA.

    The part about the bitcoin was info dumpy but did not majorly hinder the story. The Hive also got me intrigued about the dark web which I only learned from some hoaky Youtube videos. I’m hoping for a sequel where we get to learn more about Piker, his hacker friends who form The Hive and see if Chris learned to be circumspect.

    Notwithstanding my complaint earlier about the book not being dark, in itself, Blood & Bitcoin is a very enjoyable suspense/thriller. It does not let up on the action and the twists and turns will keep your adrenaline running on high. There were many ever changing threads to unravel and identities to uncover. I had some inkling about Piker’s father but The Big Twist completely caught me off guard. That was, DAMN!

    I recommend Blood & Bitcoin for those into stories about people with the right intentions doing it the wrong way.

    P.S.

    Other Criminal Delights books:
    Only The Devil Knows (review here)
    Devil Next Door (review here)
    Wrong Way Home (review here)

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: In For The Kill
    Artist: La Roux
    Album: La Roux