This is a round up of the books I read on the 4rd quarter of this year that I’m too lazy to do a full review.
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.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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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Kip O’Connor Mystery: US
Psychic Detective Mysteries: Shadows Deceive – S.C. Wynne
If I could have put off meeting Thompson’s family forever, I would have. But he made it crystal clear it was important to him, and I got the feeling if I blew it off again, I’d lose him.
So, like a good boyfriend, I accompanied him to the rustic city of Big Bear, hoping for the best. I expected awkward moments, and funny looks from his family. What I didn’t see coming was having to hang out with his perfect ex-lover, Alexander, and for dead bodies to start piling up.
Working and living together, Thompson and I formed a bond I didn’t think could be broken. But when he starts doubting my abilities, and pulling away, simply because he doesn’t like what I’m saying, I start to realize maybe we were never as tight as I’d thought.
Thompson needs to decide if he wants to protect the past, more than he wants to join me in the future. He thinks I’m just scared of commitment, and so I’m causing trouble. But the reality is, Thompson is the person with one foot out the door.
Shadows Deceive is the third installment of the psychic procedural series, Psychic Detective Mysteries. It follows psychic/police consultant Liam Baker and his partner/boyfriend, Detective Kimball Thompson as they solve murders with the help of Liam’s ability to talk to ghosts.
The first two books were about Liam and Thompson trying to catch a powerful evil psychic, Stephen Pine, who was killing several people and was out to get Liam. Meanwhile, Liam was grieving the loss of his late boyfriend, Will, while Thompson, Will’s partner, patiently waited for Liam to notice him.
Book 3 sees the two men as an established couple which means it was time to meet the family.
The story is from Liam’s POV and you really had to feel it for the guy. Our boy is most definitely not a people person. Not only does he have to stay with Thompson’s family for two weeks, he has to deal with Thompson’s very attractive, very accomplished, very charming ex, Alexander, who the family considers one of their own. The man even ate dinner with them almost everyday Liam was there. And, the poor psychic also stumbled upon a dead body near the family house. So you could see his pain here.
His situation is the bane of introverts everywhere. And you got to hand it to Liam, he was really, really, really trying. He sucked it up and played nice. The book did a great job laying out Liam’s insecurities and the valiant way he tried to be a good boyfriend and to do his job professionally no matter how compromised his partner was. He has grown so much as a character. He came a long way from a grief-stricken man to someone who can hold is own against evil forces. I was neutral about him before but he really won me over here.
Thompson’s family was awesome. His mom especially. The part that made her stood out for me was that she was very perceptive. She knew Liam was hurting. She wasn’t blind to her son’s faults and Alexander’s manipulative side.
Meanwhile, Thompson needed to grovel more because he was being extra obtuse to how much he was hurting his beloved boyfriend by being chummy with the ex. Liam and Thompson’s relationship was tested almost to the breaking point. It was excruciating to watch. Don’t get me wrong, Thompson adores Liam. I liked him in the past 2 books. This Alex thing just wasn’t his shining moment.
The story is a great blend of romance, mystery and paranormal. The mystery didn’t hold much surprises. It was glaringly obvious who the killer was, especially with another dead body popping up. Far from making it boring, I liked how it worked well with the plot, adding another layer of insidious evil for Liam to conquer. I did wonder though if it would have been better or worse, story-wise, if he knew the identity of the killer right away and had to convince Thompson about it.
The plot also connects to the main villain, Stephen Pine. He is currently in jail. I wish that was the last we see of him because I’m not looking forward to his repeat performance. Alas, it is hinted we should expect a comeback in future installments
Shadows Deceive is a story about trust, family, standing up for one’s self and holding on to what’s important. It was emotional and engaging and still suspenseful even with the element of predictability. This is the best book so far. I am eager to see more of Liam’s curmudgeon-y self getting together with ghosts, serial killers, co-workers, in-laws and who knows what. Expecting better of Thompson this time.
Psychic Detective Mysteries should be read in order. Find out more about this Stephen Pine business in the first two books, Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Return. I read both but didn’t review Book 2. Check out my review of Book 1, Shadow’s Edge here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Psychic Detective Mysteries: Shadow’s Edge by S.C. Wynne
Liam Baker can see things. Dead people like to visit him and tell them how they were wronged. Some might call it a gift, other’s a curse. But either way this ability makes him useful to Los Angeles homicide detective Kimball Thompson.
Some madman is slitting the throats of young male prostitutes and then dumping their bodies in the desert with vague clues of pink feathers and the number five. Usually Liam can talk to the spirits of the dead. But someone is blocking him. Someone is taunting him.
The case is rapidly deteriorating into a violent, psychic pissing contest and Liam can’t see far enough ahead to figure out who wins or who dies.
I seem to be building a collection of psychic detectives as I yet again start on a series featuring another consulting medium+ police detective combo. Someday, I going to create a ranking list featuring these ghost talkers. Unfortunately, Liam Baker might not make it to the top 5 as this book is pretty average.
First, the romance between Liam and Thompson was a big plus. It worked quite well with the mystery as the backdrop. Liam is prickly and grief-stricken over William, who was also Thompson’s partner. Thompson is a tough-looking, workaholic homicide detective who have always cared about Liam and had taken him under his wing when William died. He has deeply hidden feeling’s for his late partner’s boyfriend. This and the work-related pressures added extra tension to what was an already fragile relationship. Then Thompson started dating somebody else and Liam slowly realized that he was attracted to Thompson. And that he needed to get over William’s passing. All of which brought out Liam’s thorny side and he was being quite an ass. At this point, Thompson had given up on having his feelings requited, Liam being clueless and such and that should have been the end of it. But there were feels ready to be felt and USTs that irresistibly needed to be resolved and hash it out they did. While not exactly sqee-tastic, the chemistry sparked, the dynamics was enjoyable and their transition from work partners to romantic partners was convincingly executed.
However, for me, the mystery should stand out as well and while it was one of the main threads, it wasn’t as strongly delivered as I hope it would. It was as generic as they come. I didn’t feel the suspense or the chill and some of the clues’ significance were not so clear during the big confrontation with the killer. Even the killer’s motive seemed weak. I was looking forward to this ‘psychic pissing contest‘ but I’m disappointed that the antagonist was too one-dimensional.
The world-building also needed to be fleshed out. Are psychics common in their world? Everybody seemed okay with the police working with a consulting medium so maybe we can assume it is so. Since Samhain was mentioned, do other paranormal entities exist in their world too? Given the length of the book, it might not be surprising that we only get the bare-bones details but it would have been more effective to give the reader a little more meat to chew on as this would make mystery more compelling. Maybe in the second book then.
Because I liked Liam and Thompson enough to read the second book. Also, I like Kale Williams’ narration a lot. Hopefully, book two’s much better than this.
So, if you, like me, prefer your police procedural romance to be heavy on the mystery and police work, this might not be the book for you. But if you like your romance served with a side of mystery and paranormal, Shadow’s Edge by S.C. Wynne might do it for you.
If you are interested on other books featuring psychics, check out:
Psycop by Jordan Castillo Price (review here)
Tyack & Frayne by Harper Fox (review here)
Badlands by Morgan Brice (review here)
The Community by Santino Hassel (review here)
The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (review here)
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it