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    REVIEW: The Murder Between Us by Tal Bauer

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    Noah & Cole Thriller: The Murder Between Us – Tal Bauer

    It was just one night.
    It was just one mistake.

    FBI Agent Noah Downing had questions about his sexuality that a single night in Vegas should have answered. But dawn finds him on a plane back to Iowa, back on the trail of a vicious serial killer who disappeared six years ago and has suddenly resurfaced. There’s nothing like a murder investigation to escape an existential crisis.

    FBI profiler Cole Kennedy is still reeling after finding a heart-stopping connection with a seemingly perfect man, only for him to vanish. When he’s sent to Iowa to profile the killer terrorizing America’s heartland, he finds more questions than answers – both about the murderer and about Noah, the last man he ever expected to see again.

    A twisted secret stretches between Cole and Noah, tangled with questions they both have about each other. But now, thrown together, they’ll have to unravel the killer’s profile and follow his trail… back to the very beginning, to where everyone’s questions are answered once and for all.

    ***This is an M|M romantic suspense standalone novel, featuring a second chance romance, the hunt for a twisted serial killer, and one man’s journey to acceptance. 80k words.


    Wow. Just wow!

    I’ve heard so many good things about Tal Bauer’s books. This is my first and it’s already a 5-star read!

    The Murder Between Us is about closeted FBI agent Noah Downing letting himself, for once and just this once because heck, it’s Vegas, hook up with a guy to answer that burning question about his sexuality. He let himself be swept away on a date by a very charming man named Cole Kennedy. His very first date with a man was so perfect, it felt like a dream. I was swept away by this part too.

    They had a magical night together and promised to meet the next day. But Noah was suddenly called away on a murder case back in his hometown, Des Moines. This turned out to be the work of a serial killer who supposedly vanished 6 years ago. They needed a profiler. So guess who showed up as their new profiler?

    “Damn midwestern men!”

    Noah and Cole are compelling characters that immediately drew me in. They are both brilliant, competent and highly respected in their field. From the get go, the two men had AMAZING chemistry.

    That chemistry remained strong even as they go through the lows of their relationship. And boy, these parts really hurt! Meanwhile, the highs were heart-meltingly adorable. It was a one step forward, two steps back with them. It can be argh! but so worth it in the end.

    Noah is sweet and vulnerable. He’s a doting father to his teenage daughter, Katie. He’s afraid to come out because he might lose custody. My heart went out to him. He wanted so much to be himself but he was so scared. Katie was his whole world. The poor man deserves to be happy, if only he let himself.

    His reunion with Cole was all sorts of awkward but even as Noah frequently doubts himself to the point of self-sabotage, Cole is always there. Cole is beyond wonderful! So patient and loving. I loved how his strength held them together through the worst moments.

    Katie deserves a mention because she is awesome. Her heart to heart talk with her dad after she found out about him and Cole made me teary eyed.

    The procedural part is as equally riveting as the romance. The crimes were quite gruesome. The case was difficult to solve. I loved all the twist and turns, especially the one at the climax that really took me by surprise. That was pretty clever!

    The Murder Between Us is a beautifully written story, with a intricate plot and prose that kept me hooked. I finished it in one sitting. From that super sweet beginning to the painful struggle for self-acceptance to the hard-fought HEA that run alongside the high stress investigation and heart-stopping confrontations with the killer, this was truly a rollercoaster from beginning to end. The feels just hits you hard, right in the kokoro. This book totally slayed me!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: The Space Between
    Artist: Dave Matthews Band
    Album: Everyday


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    The Murder Between Us: US | UK

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    REVIEW: Shadows Deceive by S.C. Wynne

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    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.

    P.S.

    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.

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

    Soundtrack: Nearly Lost You
    Artist: Screaming Trees
    Album: Sweet Oblivion


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    REVIEW: This Is Not Revenge by Romilly King

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    This Is Not Revenge by Romilly King

    The new dark gay romance series from Romilly King – Author of the Delphic Agency and Handled Series.

    He’s never going to believe this is for his own good.

    It looks like revenge.

    I swear it’s not.

    There is zero motivation for me to revenge what he did to my Father.

    I’d rather kiss him for it.

    (No, don’t think like that)

    This is me doing the only thing I can to save him.

    I can’t take the thought of one more death on my hands.

    Too many people have lost everything so we can live.

    And there is such power in the enemy vanquished.

    He’ll understand, once I get through to him, once I explain it all, then we can be allies, or even friends.

    I think I would like that.

    It’s a shame I have to lock him up to do this.

    (He does look really good in my chains though)

    This Is Not Revenge is the first book in a new trilogy by gay romance author Romilly King. It features damaged characters, an unreliable narrator, and themes of dark, twisted love. The story arc will continue across all three books.

    Trigger warning – this is a dark gay romance book and includes graphic violence, sexual scenes and psychological manipulation between lovers. Additional trigger warnings inside.


    First of all, that blurb!

    I already knew I will love this even before I started. I just had that feeling.

    Romilly King set the bar high with her Handled series. I completely went gaga over Gray and Nathan. Well, here’s another psycho pair for us to love.

    GIL and LEO ♡!!!

    Sweet, caring, enchanting, equal parts worldly and innocent, quite delusional, very adept at killing, Gil is everything and more. He is a favored son of a serial killer. Raised in a cult, he completely believes his father’s delusions that they have magic. He kidnaps Leo to keep him safe from his father’s wrath. His father has a long reach and other sons at his beck and call who will go after Leo.

    Leo is a forensic psychologist who helped put Gil’s father in prison. He describes himself as a typical gay man, thought himself capable of withstanding the mental tortures of an abduction but learns surprising things about himself while being chained to the wall. He also learns surprising things about his captor.

    The psychological aspect of the book was really well-done. This is written in dual POV which worked perfectly with the plot. It had me questioning whether the book might actually be paranormal, especially in light of Gil’s firm conviction that he can use magic. And yes, it would really seem he does. But then you would get Leo’s POV and the reality would shift back to the mundane. It was a real mindfuck. I loved it.

    I also loved that one line at the first part that hinted this might be set in the Handled world. If so, would there be cameos? Please?

    The trigger warnings set my expectations for this to be very dark and disturbing. It’s actually kind of mild a.k.a. I wasn’t disturbed (but YMMV so do heed the TWs). But it is quite intense in many ways. It is this intensity as well as the complex and compelling characters, the fast-paced plot and the brilliant writing that made the book perfect for me.

    This Is Not Revenge is one of the best Stockholm Syndrome stories I have read. I loved how the author laid out Gil and Leo’s internal conflicts, how they got to know each other, how they slowly won each other’s trust. I relished the delicious anticipation building up to the point when things shifted between them. You can really FEEL that moment.

    It was such a tender and sweet romance. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that, Stockholm Syndrome or not, they were able to find a pure and beautiful emotional connection amidst all these fucked up circumstances. For me, it’s what stood out the most. Witness this heartwrenching scene where they had to fight against the evil father:

    “We have to stop this.”

    Gil looks at me, “We?”

    “Yes.” There is utter certainty in my voice. “We, always we, from now on, forever, we.”

    There is a desperate hope in his eyes. “But I’m mad.”

    “Me too, apparently it’s catching, and I don’t care.” I’m suddenly fierce, suddenly determined, begging him to believe me.

    I don’t suppose there was ever much doubt.

    This madman, I love him. I can’t help it, and I am going to do everything I can to fight for him

    I too caught the bug, apparently, because I’m crazy about these two madmen.

    P.S.

    This Is Not Revenge is book 1 of a trilogy. It ends with a cliffhanger.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Safety
    Artist: Yoke Lore
    Album: Far Shore


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    SERIES REVIEW: Handled Books 2 & 3 by Romilly King

    I practically inhaled these last two Handled books in one sitting because they’re that good!

    The entire series blew me away with Gray and Nathan’s deliciously deviant tale of death and desire that is surprisingly sweet as it is dark. Romilly King created two very memorable characters that are up there in my most favorite couples ever list.

    Handled is a world where capital punishment is meted out to serial killers by highly trained killers called Handlers. These executions are supervised by Witnesses. Each Handler is assigned a Witness.

    Gray, best handler in town, was assigned Nathan, rookie witness, who somehow forged a more than professional connection to the notoriously very difficult handler.


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    Handled: Cleansed – Romilly King

    Sometimes you have to go back in order to go forward – Gray is going back to handle the man who saw him as an angel, and unleashed the demon in him.

    I am a Handler; I deal with serial killers, legally, ruthlessly, and in the presence of my Witness, because justice must be seen to be done.

    Handling is an intimate procedure. I only perform for an audience of one; for my Witness, with his hot eyes and his innocent heart, and the pure white soul that I dirtied up so beautifully.

    Now someone else is watching, the man who refined the monster in me. I can’t allow that to continue, particularly as he threatens the Witness who has caused the frozen lump in my chest that I laughingly refer to as a heart, to sporadically beat.

    This isn’t about retribution; this is cleaning up the past so I have a chance at a future.

    Cleansed is the second book in the Handled trilogy, it is a dark gay romance dealing with adult themes and contains graphic scenes that may upset some readers. Please heed the trigger warnings inside.


    Cleansed picks up some months after the first book. We see Gray and Nathan’s relationship continue to evolve and grow stronger. For one brief moment, our favorite psycho lets himself be a vulnerable relaxed tiger around Nathan and learns what being cared for without any ulterior motives feels like.

    I am so happy we finally get Gray’s backstory. A crazed evangelist played a pivotal role, christening the kidnapped child Gray an angel sent to him. The man killed and tortured people in front of the child, waiting to see if the angel will appear and save the sinners.

    Years after his release, Gray learned this evangelist has kept tabs on him and was angry about his relationship with Nathan. Gray being Gray, he provoked his stalker and inadvertently put Nathan in danger. Then he went after the killer with typical Gray panache.

    I really like that the story went straight to the point with the identity of the killer. Gray has the resources and is smart enough to figure things out quickly. I also appreciated that he remained essentially himself even after the memories came rushing back. He might have a vulnerable moment or two but his claws are still sharp as ever.

    But also, soft thoughts!!!!!

    Oh, the soft thoughts are everything! ♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ)

    This is an aptly named book. Gray proved how deadly angelic he can be, burned the bridges to his past and went on to live halcyon days of sun, the occasional Nathan and OMG! cartwheels!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Animal Impulses
    Artist: IAMX
    Album: The Unified Field


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    Handled: Polished – Romilly King

    How deadly do you have to be to kill a killer?

    Handlers are hard to kill, and to be fair most of us like the challenge when people try, but now someone is killing off handlers in bloody and complex ways.

    Not my problem.

    Not anymore.

    I got out, I got free, and I don’t want to go back.

    But someone is offering a favour if I handle this, a valuable one, and it could make all the difference to how this story ends.

    Handlers don’t expect a happy ever after; most of us don’t even know what one looks like. I do, my happy ever after is blue eyed and frequently filthy and deliciously mouthy and he bends the way I want him to bend. And I could have that. All I have to do is take on one more handling, and ensure we both survive it.

    The odds are not with me this time though.

    I really should have kept on killing, I’m out of practice.

    Polished is the third book in the Handled trilogy, it is a dark gay romance dealing with adult themes and contains graphic scenes that may upset some readers. Please heed the trigger warnings inside.


    The cartwheeling had to come to an end eventually…

    Polished is where things come full circle as a retired Gray was forced to handle another case and Nathan is again assigned as his witness. Handlers and Witnesses are murdered one by one. Gray needed to get his monster mojo back in order to solve the case faster. To do so, he pushes poor Nathan away because his little witness makes him more human. They kept hitting dead ends. The situation became even more desperate when Nathan disappeared.

    Nathan’s baby handler brother, Indigo and Indi’s special friend Trans, demanded they help. Now these two are adorable psychos! Can we have their book please?

    Nathan has learned his way around Gray, keeping faith and patiently waiting, waiting, waiting…Meanwhile, Gray, struggles to put a name to this thing between him and Nathan. It took two teen psychos to help him ease into it. And solve the case while they’re at it.

    Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed with how Gray’s redemption came about. Is it wrong for me to wish he was really the psychopath everyone thought he was? Can we just let psychos be psychos and still be capable of love? If Indi can, Gray can too, I believe.

    In this trilogy, I was all about Gray. Nathan is a great character through and through. I loved him from the start but the dark and dangerous tend to hog the spotlight more. However, Nathan’s dogged determination, his innate goodness, even his naivety and most especially his selfless love for these unlovable monsters sneaked up on me much like he sneaked his way into Gray’s heart. Slowly but surely. His complete trust in Gray was such a beautiful gift. After all that he has done, I looked at him with wonder too!

    This finale revealed a more intimate picture of the relationships between Handlers and Witnesses. It is a complicated relationship, a symbiosis of two people working together in super intense, highly volatile situations. Professional can quickly turn to personal, a natural progression of sorts, and I would love to see more of these dynamics explored. I really hope we get a spinoff series.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: My Witness
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Mirror Mirror

    P.S.

    Handled should be experienced as a binge read. You won’t have it any other way.

    Witness the beginnings of Gray and Nathan’s explosive partnership in Handled book 1. Review here.


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    HANDLED | CLEANSED

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    REVIEW: Handled by Romilly King

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    Handled – Romilly King

    Serial killers think if it all goes south and they finally get caught that their swan song is a day in court, making the families relive the agony while they get off on that delicious pain, all over again.

    Not happening. Not anymore. We’re not making celebrities out of monsters. We’re not giving them a stage to strut on.

    Now they get an audience of two.

    One to Handle the problem, one to Witness it.

    I’m a Witness. I trained for six years to do my duty, to manage my contracted killer, and to watch justice be done.

    I knew it would be hard, the first time, to watch the eye for an eye moment.

    I expected to feel a lot of things – fear, disgust, guilt.

    I didn’t expect to feel turned on.

    And I didn’t expect my contracted killer to look quite so pretty with blood on his hands.

    HANDLED is a dark gay romance with themes of justice, retribution, and unsuitable love. It is not for the faint of heart and contains graphic scenes intended for an adult audience. Further trigger warnings inside.


    So deliciously dark! I love Gray!!!

    I’ve read a lot of serial killer mysteries and just when I’m getting the same old same old feels about the genre, Romilly King creates this novel world of Handlers and Witnesses in her riveting new series, Handled. The way I see it, it’s fighting monsters with monsters.

    Handled introduces us to a government program where they controlled and trained young psychopaths into Handlers. Basically killers sanctioned to render whatever punishment they see fit on serial killers roaming in the wilds. To make sure these Handlers are doing their jobs properly and within the bounds of the law, they are assigned a Witness each. It goes without saying that Witnessing is a very dangerous job. Attrition rates are extremely high.

    The book is a police procedural of sorts. We follow Gray and Nathan as they go about their business of investigating the prime suspect and establishing concrete evidence for their cases. The government requires hard evidence before they are allowed to handle a certain client a.k.a the guilty party.

    The world-building here was very well-thought out. It was done without much info-dumping. Everything felt real. I had no problems following the set-up. The jargon was easy to pick up. I got some slight dystopian vibes from it. Especially with the government involved.

    It’s Nathan’s first time to Witness and he was assigned the best and most notorious Handler, Gray. Now this Handler doesn’t play well with others. When Gray doesn’t like a somebody, the least you can expect is lose an eye. The rare exception is Nora, his long-time Witness, who is now passing the baton to Nathan.

    It was lust at first sight for our young rookie. Like most psychos we loved, Gray exuded that magnetic charisma that had Nathan mesmerized even with the full knowledge of what the man is capable of.

    Gray loves pain. All kinds, whether inflicted by him or on him. When he is in a killing mood, the man is intense! That big scene with Nathan and his client at the climax was pretty nasty. But it was glorious!

    I wouldn’t put it past her to plant the seeds knowing something might blossom because the wily Nora chose the perfect man as her successor. Nathan was totally green, he made errors that could have been fatal. But Gray sensed he was different.

    Nathan was a bit naive but direct. He’s scared but he didn’t give his Handler bullshit. He was respectful of Gray, taking time to ask him about his background instead of simply reading his file. He sassed him back once in a while too.

    I love Nathan! As he acclimatized to his grim job, we see him drawing out Gray’s various nuances. The way he complemented Gray’s personality, they just fit so naturally. I appreciated him for considering that Gray could be something more than what the system thinks he should be.

    And holy heck, the chemistry!!!

    The dynamics between the two was fantastic. They played off each other so well. The interactions were fraught with danger and sexual tension. Any minute Gray could snap. You’d never know if he would kill Nathan or fuck him. Both really.

    I am so happy the book is written in dual POV. Not knowing what goes on inside Gray’s head would be totally frustrating. I love that even though we are privy to his thoughts, it didn’t diminish his mystique. He’s still an enigmatic figure you’ll want to know more about. I enjoyed watching him deal with feelings Nathan is making him feel, feelings that are mostly foreign to him.

    Handled grabbed me and didn’t let me go. It’s a great balance of blood, gore, sex, and romance with a huge heaping of mystery, suspense and sprinkles of sweet. I didn’t find any of the scenes gratuitous. The plot just worked so well.

    I can’t wait to get more of Gray and Nathan as they mete out bloody justice while slowing finding their way to a happy ever after. But for now we are gifted with that super sweet ending.

    Please do heed the trigger warnings. I wouldn’t outright recommend this because it gets pretty dark. But if you dare…

    “Gray is the book you don’t skip to the last page of to see if your guesses are right. Gray is the book you read slowly and savour.”

    P.S.

    Handled is not a standalone novel. Rightly so because you’ll never be satisfied with just one book.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Used To The Darkness
    Artist: Des Rocs
    Album: Let The Vultures In


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    HANDLED | CLEANSED

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    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

    REVIEW: Within the Mind by Alice Winters

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    In The Mind: Within the Mind – Alice Winters

    Seneca is the complete package. He’s smart, sexy, and confident, much to Chevy’s annoyance. They’ve worked with each other for two years, and even though Chevy might secretly find his partner charming and attractive, playful harassment is all they have.

    Chevy was born with a unique gift that allows him to go into the memories of others. As detective, he uses this ability to find peace for victims who have been hurt or attacked. He delves into their memories and can pick out minute details that will help them put the criminal behind bars.

    But neither Chevy nor Seneca are prepared when they are asked to go into the mind of a serial killer in hopes of finding survivors. They are even more unprepared for the monsters they find inside the man’s mind. Drawn into a memory where it’s hard to figure out where the truth exists, they realize that there may be more to the serial killer than they originally thought. The dark world draws the two men together in a way they never dreamed.

    It will take everything Chevy and Seneca can give to stop the darkness that could consume their minds. As the two are forced to face what is keeping them apart, together they realize that there’s more to the mind and heart than either of them know.

    Within the Mind is a 90k word romantic suspense with lots of snark, an ominous gramophone, and finger cuddling, because we all know spooning isn’t as great as it sounds.


    A mindbending blend of hilarious WTFuckery and creepy AF mindfuckery.

    The WTFuckery comes in the form of Chevy Wright and Seneca Bates, detective partners for some unnamed agency. They have gifts, Chevy can access memories of people while Seneca can mimic any gift. When they’re not pretending to be upstanding, civilized law enforcers, they spend their time trying to one up each other in snark. Which is, like, 90% of the time.

    Chevy and Seneca are perfect foils for each other. The former is grumpy and very introverted while the latter is very flirty and outgoing. Seneca is forever declaring his love to Chevy. Chevy is forever announcing his disgust at Seneca’s antics. All the while, wanting him but giving up on ever having the man.

    I’m not an expert on this, but is Chevy demi? Because with all the innuendos exchanged by these two goofs, Chevy’s POV could have been written with many lust filled references. Instead, it was all about the longing and the pining. And the giving up because how could someone perfect ever liked someone as boring as him? Even when he was finally with the man of his dreams, he didn’t just immediately jump his bones. He took his time until he was ready.

    This was more effective in showing the depth of feelings in a relationship revolving around playful harrassment. The beauty of their relationship is that they bring out the best, and worst, of each other. The serious conversations between them are few and far in between but when they come, it’s right in the kokoro!

    The mindfuckery is courtesy of the artist/serial killer, whose gift is unknown but very powerful. The way the killer manipulated the mind so effectively it had me questioning reality. To the point I keep expecting that any jump from memory to current reality is an illusion. It was disorienting as hell. As if that’s not bad enough, he threw in creepy sound effects, endless hallways, and monsters in the dark. I got the heebie jeebies!!!

    And then at the end, when all the pieces come together, you’ll find yourself, quite unexpectedly, feeling sorry for the monster. All in all, it was a nicely done murder mystery.

    Within the Mind is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. The humor could be too juvenile to some but when you’re comfortable enough to show your weird to a person and he shows his weird back, that’s a rare and precious thing. That’s how I see Chevy and Seneca when they’re trading dumbass remarks. I just adore these two!

    The worldbuilding and character descriptions are not as detailed as I would have liked. I have no clear picture of what the characters look like exactly. Nor the locations. This could be intentional since we are seeing thing’s from Chevy’s perspective. His outlook could be a little blah.

    The gifts weren’t detailed as well. Just enough basic explanation is provided. Gifts are rare and so far, four were presented in the story. I expect more gifted individuals will show up as the series progress.

    Within the Mind is best read if you’re prepared for crazy characters getting themselves involved in many ridiculous situations. Situations ranging from there’s a six-legged arachnid woman with a face full of teeth coming after me to let me talk out of my ass like Ace Ventura, pleeease!!!

    It could be worse. We’ll find out on their next case.

    P.S.

    Alice Winters books here.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: The Memory’s Here
    Artist: Hot Hot Heat
    Album: Hot Hot Heat

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Tallowwood by N.R. Walker

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    Tallowwood – N.R. Walker

    Cold cases, murder, lies, and an unimaginable truth.

    Sydney detective August Shaw has spent the last decade of work solving cold cases. Since the death of his boyfriend eight years ago, August works alone, lives alone, is alone — and that’s exactly how he likes it. His work is his entire life, and he’s convinced a string of unsolved cold-case suicides are linked to what could be Australia’s worst ever serial killer. Problem is, no one believes him.

    Senior Constable Jacob Porter loves his life in the small town of Tallowwood in the middle of the rainforests in northern New South Wales. He runs summer camps for the local Indigenous kids, plays rugby with his mates, has a close family, and he’s the local LGBTQIA+ Liaison and the Indigenous Liaison Officer.

    When human remains are found in the camping grounds at Tallowwood Reserve, Jake’s new case turns out to be linked to August’s cold cases, and Jake agrees they’re not suicides at all. With Jacob now firmly in August’s corner, they face one hurdle after another, even when more remains are found, they still can’t seem to gain ground.

    But when the body of a fellow police officer turns up under the same MO, it can’t be ignored anymore. August and Jake must trace the untraceable before the killer takes his next victim or before he stops one of them, permanently.


    Another beautiful masterpiece from N.R. Walker!

    Tallowwood is intense, gripping and moving with just enough fluff to keep things from becoming too dark.

    August Shaw is a cold case detective working on an 18-year old serial killing case that nobody takes seriously, mainly because the victims were gay. One of them was his boyfriend, Christopher, who he found dead in their bathtub 8 years ago. It was made to look like suicide like the other victims. But August knew Christopher wouldn’t take his own life.

    August ‘wears his grief like an old coat‘. He’s drawn into himself, he’s socially awkward, an asshole to others and very, very determined to prove that what were ruled as suicides were actually murders. He’s almost to the point of obsession. It took a small town constable with a winning smile to shed light on a little known fact: the gritty detective could be so damn adorkable!

    Jacob Porter is a senior constable in Tallowwood who contacted August in order to consult him with a case that might be related to the detective’s. Jacob is a cheerful, very likable person who’s also smart and very good at his job. He is a ray of sunshine with a side of bossy. You have no choice but to love him.

    The two men discovered they worked well as a team. They go over case files, visit families of victims, open old wounds, and sought fresh perspectives for that much needed break in the case. While doing so, they bond over food, small town life, Scarlet the cat, and kookaburras.

    The book treated its subject with appropriate gravity and depth. It talks about grief, loss, needing closure and giving oneself a chance to move on. Even with these weighty themes, the story didn’t feel too heavy. The author was able to inject humor with perfect timing. It done so naturally without ruining the profundity of the moment.

    My heart went out to August. I could feel his grief and frustrations pouring off the page. He’s one of those characters who badly needs a hug. I loved how Jacob showed him simple acts of kindness that worked so effectively. He made him feel safe and cared for. The romance was appropriately slow-burn and one of the best of its kind out there.

    Tallowwood is a complex, well-written police procedural. I liked how it focused 80% on the mystery while still delivering a wonderfully done second chance romance. Not only was the mystery hard to solve but people in high places were placing roadblocks whenever they could. I thoroughly enjoyed going through the nitty gritty of the investigation. I was in the dark until the author dropped the big hints.

    I loved how the author built up the suspense and brought everything together in an explosive climax. All loose ends were resolved completely and we were even gifted with a delightful epilogue. I couldn’t ask for a better ending.

    This is the kind of book you’ll want to read non-stop from start to finish. I would have done so if not for the need to sleep. I recommend reading this on a weekend so you could binge. And remember to always watch the kookaburras.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Dead Hearts
    Artist: Stars
    Album: The Five Ghosts

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Dead Reckoning by Pandora Pine

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    Cold Case Psychic: Dead Reckoning – Pandora Pine

    When the spirit of a young male prostitute comes to psychic Tennyson Grimm asking him to find the john who brutally murdered him, Tennyson can’t say no. Only able to communicate through the use of images, rather than words, getting any information out of the young man is frustrating and slow going.

    Cold Case Detective Ronan O’Mara has been on a roll solving cases since he and Tennyson last teamed up to solve the Michael Frye case. Unfortunately, the red-hot romance that had blossomed between them during that investigation is now off in a ditch, thanks to Ronan’s self-confessed pigheadedness.

    Agreeing to work together despite the rift in their relationship, Tennyson and Ronan discover they are in for more than they bargained for when more victims start to reveal themselves to Tennyson.

    Realizing they might have a serial killer on their hands, the two men work tirelessly to stop this madman from killing again, but when the killer targets the son of a prominent member of the Boston Police Department, can Ronan and Tennyson save him before it’s too late?


    It was Tenn’s turn to lose his cool with a case that hit close to home.

    Tennyson, always the calm and unruffled one, couldn’t help but be emotional and angry when a ghost of a dead gay teenager appeared to let him know he was murdered. This opened a can of worms long since present in the city but largely ignored. That of homeless teenagers peddling their bodies in order to survive. Most of these teenagers were gay boys thrown out of their houses. Tenn was would have been one of these teens living on the streets if not for his psychic gifts.

    Meanwhile Ronan manned up and finally admitted that he has a problem. He and Tenn had a huge blow up regarding how the previous case of his ex-husband turning out to be a child killer, was affecting him. This led to him walking away from Tenn.

    Ronan was more likable in this book, especially after they reconciled. He was happier and warmer. His connection with Tenn was stronger. He still had his moments but the temper tantrums were less frequent. He still blurted out details of the case to a journalist but that was because he needed the man’s help. Like Tenn said, we’re seeing the side of Ronan that was there before his dreaded ex ruined it.

    This installment also saw a more human Captain Kevin Fitzgibbon, Ronan’s boss. I liked how the captain fit right in Tenn and Ronan’s ever expanding family. I’m glad Fitz has his own book.

    Dead Reckoning is another serial killing case where teen prostitutes were the main target. The details of the crimes were harrowing but not too graphic. The killer was harder to guess compared to the first book. Although, I found that the story tried a little too hard in directing my attention to the other guy.

    IMHO, I think, it would have been more interesting if the killer was known early on and the story was more about trying to prove that he’s the guy. Kind of like what L.A. Witt & Cari Z. did in Suspicious Behavior. I rarely come across their kind of take on the serial killer trope.

    The author did a good job building up to the climax. However at the most critical point, things quickly went pear-shaped on different levels. A police officer who knew better forgot his training and came rushing half-cocked into a standoff. Shots were fired, he was hit on the chest. Then came more people, people who were supposedly severely injured, rushing in and crying. It was stupid and melodramatic. I expected better.

    Dead Reckoning may have some parts that could have been done differently, but overall, I enjoyed this book. I was hooked on the story for hours. There were definite improvements from the first book, Dead Speak. I liked how the ending set up expectations for the third book.

    Would Tenn enjoy the silence?

    P.S.

    review of book 1, Dead Speak, here
    review of Suspicious Behavior here

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: U (Man Like)
    Artist: Bon Iver
    Album: I,I