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    REVIEW: How To Elude A Vampire by Alice Winters

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    VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Elude A Vampire by Alice Winters

    Finn
    When the vampire stalking me sent me a letter, I was prepared for my new life with the man I love to get thrown into chaos. But as the days stretch on and nothing happens, I become determined not to allow that monster to rule my life, and decide that Marcus and I will move on. We can’t always allow the past to haunt us. If that includes pestering Marcus and harassing my fellow detectives, they’d better learn to love it, because I’m not going anywhere even if they like to remind me I’m the only human working in a department filled with vampires. But Marcus loves me for who I am, even if he’s not crazy about the cute pet names I call him like McBitey. Being with him is more than I could have dreamed, and even with the trials thrown in our way, he never fails to make me smile.

    Marcus
    When Finn joined the VRC, I never expected how everything would change. Now that he’s the brightest part of my days, I’m unsure of how I existed without him. Before Finn and I can settle into our new life together, we’re called in as lead detectives when a body is found in the river, and the case soon hits closer to home than we anticipated. I want to be by Finn’s side to keep him safe, but at the same time, Finn’s fighting for the freedom he’s always wanted after being forced to live a life of fear. What I do know is that my future is with Finn, no matter what happens.

    How to Elude a Vampire is the second in the VRC series and contains a display of manly prowess that doesn’t go as desired, reluctant bonding with a new pet, interfering with a snarky Russian’s love life, misuse of office supplies, a vampire with a killer fashion sense but very little game, a total lack of ancient kung fu powers, a feisty human who almost always gets his way and the possessive vampire who adores him.


    How To Vex A Vampire left us with a huge cliffhanger. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I got too excited about the second book and read the reviews. I learned the name of Finn’s stalker is Dollmaker.

    HUGE clue right there.

    So I spent the sequel anticipating the big reveal because I knew I was right.

    I was!

    Far from feeling that the book was predictable, I was actually enjoying it more because knowing this guy was close to Finn most of his life only made it more sinister. Mostly, I wanted to see how it would play out.

    How To Elude A Vampire picks up six months after the events in the first book. Marcus and Finn are happy and have everything they need excerpt for that looming threat. They are now staying with Finn’s father, Orin, because his house is the most secure. Or so they thought.

    A series of murders connected to the Dollmaker, attacks right inside Orin’s house, more warnings from the stalker to quit the VRC, and overly protective vampires drove Finn up the wall. He’s tired of living in fear and feeling controlled.

    Nightmares that were actually memories revealed past events that led to Finn losing his arm and leg. We finally learn about Finn’s past as well as the history of vampires.

    I loved how the vampires rally to protect Finn. My boy Karsyn grumps his way through the book but you could tell he’ll die for his human friend if needed. There’s a great addition of Claude, Marcus’s outrageously dressed, outrageously flirty, surprisingly smart brother, who latched on to a certain snarky Russian vampire. These two!!!

    And we have Marcus. I have a better appreciation of Marcus here because six month earlier, he would have wrinkled his nose at the mere thought of interacting with humans. Now, this big bad vampire is so completely head over heels over his tiny human that he’s willing to make a fool of himself just to make him laugh. Witness another Date. Also, a lot of adorable mushy stuff.

    Marcus trying to impress Finn ♡ (≧◡≦) !!!

    With Finn and Marcus as an establish couple, the primary focus was the mystery. There were several nicely deployed plot twists that I didn’t see coming. There’s still a lot of snark and gags that were sometimes repetitive. There were many scenes where they completely ignored the pressing issue at hand just to exchange snarks. However, the plot moved at a fast pace and laid out Finn’s troubles in a way that kept me consistently engaged.

    The build-up, the showdown and the comeuppance played out quick but intensely suspenseful. All throughout the scene, I was at the edge of my seat wondering how Finn is going make it out of there alive. But the man is smart and resourceful and resilient as fuck. That and Marcus.

    How To Elude A Vampire gives us a happy end to Finn’s stalker woes. I kind of wish Finn was turned into a vampire just so he wouldn’t be injured so easily (and spare Marcus the agony of seeing the love of his life live die of old age while he gets to live forever <– my main issue with human + vampire couples) but that epilogue was super sweet.

    I’m glad the author did not drag this stalker business out for several more books. I felt as relieved as Finn and just as ready to move on to happier matters.

    Namely, Karsyn and Claude.

    P.S.

    The VRC books are not standalones and should be read in order. Witness how a short, sassy human charmed a grumpy, confident, 300-year old vampire into the best worst date ever in How To Vex A Vampire. Review here.

    Posts on Alice Winters books here.

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

    Soundtrack: Treat Me Like A Doll
    Artist: Girls Rituals
    Album: Reddishness


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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: How To Vex A Vampire by Alice Winters

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    VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Vex A Vampire – Alice Winters

    Finn
    Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.

    Marcus
    The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.

    This 105k word book contains: A creative use for undergarments, unintentional splits, a wolfhound who just wants to be a part of things, a vertically challenged human who still manages to wrap every vampire he meets around his little finger, the best date ever, possessiveness, really awkward dancing, some workplace revenge, and just a bite or two. Or three. 


    I have read about three Alice Winters books so far, the first Hitman’s Guide story and the two In The Mind installments. I noticed that her pairings usually come in the form of a persistent, outgoing, flirty lead pestering a stoic, reserved, grumpy love interest who secretly enjoys the pestering but doing his manly best to resist. I’m enjoying the heck out of these chases especially when the other shoe drops.

    How To Vex A Vampire is another paranormal offering set in a world where vampires are free to mingle among humans after a bloody history of persecution and deaths. The VRC is a police department who handles any case related to vampires.

    Finn finally managed to get himself into the department, something he worked hard and schemed hard to achieve for entirely very personal reasons. He was partnered with the notorious Marcus Church, a vampire detective known for his gruff manners.

    The book presents several mysteries. First is the case of a murdered female vampire and a drug that drives vampires into a feeding frenzy. There’s also a hooded ancient vampire stalking Finn for more than a decade. They know next to nothing about this entity but this is the only thing that puts real fear into the heart of the spunky Finnegan Hayes.

    The two MCs hinted at some secrets of their own. Marcus’s true status as a vampire is not known to most. Finn had to make a few educated guesses. The biggest mystery of all might be Finn himself. What makes this little human so special that high-level vampires rally to protect him?

    I love Finn! Finn is, in Marcus’s words, a tiny, fragile human. He lost an arm and a leg from a car accident. He now wears high-tech prosthesis, something Finn goes out of his way not to advertise. Our boy is out to prove that he can stand toe to toe with big bad vampires. He has proven again and again that he can. He’s a man on a mission to kill a very specific vampire. Meanwhile, he’s also hellbent on pursuing one other bloodsucker…

    Poor Marcus tried to put up immovable walls but alas. As the two detectives go about finding the bad guys and before he even realized it, Marcus was swept away by the unstoppable force that is Finn. It was a lot of fun to watch! Check out The Date.

    The book stands out for its humor. It does not have the exhausting hyperactive wackadoodle antics of The Hitman’s Guide. It has a more toned down but still OTT snark for snark exchange that is as funny but not as overwhelming.

    There’s suspense and a lot of action but the focus here is on the character interactions and romantic development. The police procedural aspect might not be the most realistic or even accurate but still procedural enough for us to feel these guys are doing their jobs.

    The VRC series has a great cast to work with, many of them memorable. So it’s no surprise that a couple of supporting characters have books of their own, like my grumpy Russian, Karsyn, and nice guy, DeGray. I’m excited to get to their stories.

    This series opener ends with a cliffhanger so we will be continuing the hunt on the second book. Finn has now charmed enough vampires to form an army. One very vexed vampire is right in front, ready to tear the world apart for him.

    Time to end this elusive ancient threat!

    P.S.

    And so because I got too excited for book 2, I read some reviews and learned the name of this mysterious stalker vampire is Doll Maker. This is giving me ideas! Could it be him?!

    Posts on Alice Winters works here.

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

    Soundtrack: Walls Down
    Artist: Memba feat. EVAN GIIA
    Album: Saga-II


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    REVIEW: Their Bounty by K.A. Merikan

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    Four Mercenaries: Their Bounty – K.A. Merikan

    — Taken. Prized. Possessed. Loved. —

    Clover is an orphan and has led a tough and chaotic life. No stability. No money. No friends. He trusts no one.

    His already miserable life takes a nosedive when he ends up in the hands of a human trafficking gang. Someone has placed a request for a young albino man, and Clover is to become the property of a mysterious buyer who will stop at nothing to satisfy their depraved desire. Clover’s fate seems sealed until four bounty hunters appear to take out his captors and accidentally save him.

    The four mercenaries want to move on, but when Clover pleads for protection, they offer it to him at a price. In the beginning, the arrangement is all kinds of shady, but as he gets to know the four men who’ve taken him on a wild ride, his developing feelings might become as dangerous as the elusive buyer.

    But can a relationship with four such different men even work? Men who kill for a living? Men so full of contradictions?

    Tank. The massive ex-soldier eager to be Clover’s Daddy.
    Pyro. Wild, tattooed, with a filthy mouth and an itch for violence.
    Boar. Ginger, bearded, a big teddy bear who can turn into a grizzly.
    Drake. Dark and dangerous, with a tongue as sharp as his knives.

    Can these men provide him with the love and security he craves? Or has Clover made the worst mistake of his life?

    THEIR BOUNTY is a dark gay harem contemporary romance, book 1 in the “Four Mercenaries” trilogy. The story contains scenes of explicit violence, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters and lots of scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes.

    POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
    Themes: abduction, polyamory, mercenaries, bounty hunters, albinism, commitment issues, indecent proposal, dark past, male bonding, human trafficking, size difference, enemies to lovers, danger, alpha male, found family, size difference, distrust, shared, victim and protector


    Apart from their Criminal Delights contribution, Wrong Way Home, I am hard-pressed to find a K.A. Merikan that sticks. Unexpectedly, this polyamorous series opener seemed to do the trick.

    I picked up Their Bounty after reading Our King, Our Master, another poly series that had interesting characters but poor execution. I’m neutral on poly but I wanted to see better examples of how this particular trope can be done.

    The four mercenaries are a brotherhood of former soldiers who take on jobs that bring down the bad guys while bringing in the money. On one of their jobs, they stumbled upon a 19-year old orphaned albino kid chained up to be sold to a mysterious buyer.

    The kid, Clover, was part of a pick pocket gang ran by a local criminal. He was getting too old and too conspicuous given his unusual looks. Aware that he is a wanted man with no defenses, Clover pretends he has friends waiting for him in New York and negotiates his safe passage to the city in exchange for the men using him while they escort him on their roadtrip.

    The leader of the group was Tank, a huge man whom Clover immediately tagged as his Daddy. He’s level-headed and he’s no fool. He knew what kind game Clover was playing but he felt protective of the kid. Tank’s alright but I don’t really go for Daddy kink.

    Boar and Pyro are a couple very much in love but sexually incompatible. Boar is a hearts and flowers kind of teddy bear while Pyro is a blue-haired punk with ink and fast bike. Together, they found Clover to be the missing link in their relationship.

    Everyone was quite smittened with their new boy. All except Drake. So of course he’s my favorite. I have huge respects for people who are not easily swayed by a pretty face and Drake was the only one who was unimpressed by their new plaything. He kept his distance. He was the only one in their group who thought they should stop spoiling Clover and teach him practical skills. Like self-defense especially with bad guys coming after him.

    Drake was the main reason I stuck around. There was something about him, something smoldering behind his frosty exterior. He was the most nuanced of all the characters and therefore the most compelling. He talked some sense into Clover and in doing so revealed deeper hurts he rarely showed his brothers. He was definitely worth winning over especially when the ice did melt bit by bit. He wouldn’t admit it, but I bet he’s Clover’s favorite too.

    I really liked how the authors made all of them stand out. It was tricky to find a nice balance between five MCs where each can shine individually and with their love interests. The authors succeeded in doing just that. The men each gave something to Clover who, in turn, gave them what was missing in their lives. It’s what made their 5-person romance work. They were like different puzzle pieces forming a cohesive whole

    An oversight by the mercs came back to bite their asses and poor Clover was captured again. Clover was thrown into the very sinister world of human menageries and most definitely not the fun kind. Will he ever see his men again?

    Unlike the other poly series where meeting a new character is just prelude to sex, the book had a solid story line that was pulled off well. Even if it was only secondary to the relationship development and group dynamics, the mystery + action-suspense part carried enough weight that added a lot of excitement to the overall plot. I liked how that twist came out of nowhere and threw me for a loop.

    Their Bounty falls somewhere between like and love. I had a great time with it but some aspects were not my cup of tea. And TBH, Drake was all I cared about although I liked the other guys just fine. Clover was the one I’m least drawn to. He tended to act like a spoiled brat. And really, for a street kid, I expected better survival skills other than offering sexual favors.

    Please do heed the warnings. The book touches upon human trafficking and other sordid crimes. There are some graphic details, enough to give color but not too much to completely gross the reader out. It’s dark but not so much. Probably medium gray on the blackness scale. Some things were somewhat dub-con. Most of the more disturbing aspects were off-page or hinted at.

    The song for this book is Sweet Surrender, originally by Sarah Maclachlan. It’s a lazy choice because I have a hard time looking for a song about poly romances. The lyrics kinda fits the way Clover left his miserable life behind and surrendered himself to four dominant people. Turned out to be a pretty sweet deal.

    Not outright recommending. I know how most people feel about poly so I say read this if you’re feeling adventurous.

    P.S.

    Sharing these face claims from Ele, a GR reviewer because they’re perfect:

    L to R: Drake, Tank, Clover, Boar, Pyro

    Posts on K.A. Merikan here.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Sweet Surrender
    Artist: Thierry Amiel
    Album: Où Vont Les Histoires ?


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Four Mercenaries. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.