• book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Sleight Of Hand by Charlie Cochet

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    The Kings: Wild Cards: Sleight Of Hand – Charlie Cochet

    Former Special Forces Green Beret, Sacha “Joker” Wilder, is well-versed on the subject of demolitions. As a silent partner of Four Kings Security, Joker spends his days working alongside his brothers-in-arms and his best boy, Chip—a bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois with sass. Years of military and private security experience have prepared Joker for almost anything, except the explosive attraction between him and Giovanni Galanos.

    When Gio returns from his travels abroad, everyone is charmed by the handsome billionaire philanthropist, but in Joker’s experience, anyone who’s too good to be true usually is. Gio is hiding something, but the more time Joker spends around Gio, the more his walls start crumbling, leaving him exposed and at risk of losing his heart, something he swore he would never do. Love is for suckers, and that’s not him.

    For years Gio has dedicated his life to his charity work, helping people around the globe, but when things go horribly wrong during one particular trip, Gio decides it’s time to come home for good. The desire for family, and a certain ex-Green Beret with a chip on his shoulder, has Gio eager to restart his life Stateside. For all of Sacha’s blustering and griping, no one makes Gio feel safer. If only Sacha could see how right they are for each other.

    Danger lurks in the shadows as someone sets their sights on Gio, and secrets are forced into the light. If Gio and Joker are to have any kind of future together, they’ll have to face difficult truths, because where love is concerned, it’ll take more than sleight of hand to make things work.

    The Kings: Wild Cards series is a spin-off of the Four Kings Security series.


    Among the ex-Special Forces Green Beret co-owners of the Four Kings Security, cybersecurity specialist Jack is my favorite. But my most anticipated story is his best friend, Joker’s.

    Our boy Joker is the group’s wild child. He grabbed my attention from the start. He hates being called by his real name, Sacha. He boldly declared he was never going to fall in love, EVER. He is short of stature, with an even shorter fuse, sloppily dressed, occasionally skips showers yet still managed to be very adorable. Jack might be his brother but his best friend is Chip, his black, bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois. This lovable duo charmed their way into everyone’s hearts.

    When Gio made his appearance and Joker expressed his dislike of the do-gooding billionaire, I knew right off the bat that what these two have was something special. The author teased us with glimpses of their USTs-filled, long-distanced interactions in previous installments. Gio has always been upfront about his interest in Joker who he calls Sacha. This, despite never having met him face to face yet.

    Now home after a long stint abroad, he was very determined to show his beloved Sacha how good they could be together. Meanwhile, Joker was very determined not to fall for Gio’s considerable charms. Still, the very enticing billionaire has a way of breaking through his walls.

    The magic of Sleight Of Hand was how it brought Gio and Joker together in the most delicious and satisfying way possible even if we already know what to expect. I loved how naturally Gio and Joker fell for each other and the way Joker came to terms with his feelings. This was one of the most enjoyable and well orchestrated relationship progressions I’ve ever encountered. The chemistry was off the charts!

    Joker’s antagonistic approach to Gio stemmed from preconceive notions fueled by trust issues. Despite his best efforts to disliked the billionaire, he was attracted to him. The more time he spent with Gio, the more he realized how truly kind-hearted and sincere about his intentions the other man was.

    Gio is awesome! He is sweet, generous and caring. He is a self-made billionaire who’s always smiling and genuinely enjoys helping people. He has so much love to give. Joker was surprised at how much the billionaire cared for him. Also, the man loved his dog Chip almost as much as he did. So really, our boy stood no chance of resisting.

    I lived for that moment when things fell into place for Joker and he realized, oh fuck, he was indeed in love! With last person he expected to fall for. It was so damn GOOD!

    My favorite part was how the two showed they care. These are men who take action. And their gestures, no matter how grand or small, really showcased the depths of their feelings. Joker, for all his griping about Gio, always made sure the busy man had eaten properly. What Gio did near the end made me a bit emotional. It was a touching tribute that meant the world to Joker.

    The book is mostly romance with bits of action/suspense and mystery to move things along. The bad guy’s identity was very obvious but even with the elements of predictability, the story never felt stale to me. The plot moved fast while still giving Gio and Joker enough time to slow-burn their way towards each other (and make us squee).

    The book is written in that inimitable Charlie Cochet style that’s always humorous, engaging and immersive. There were a lot of ridiculous dialogues and gags. Also, very thorough with details, especially the actions, yet never dragging.

    The best thing about her books are the people and their wonderful dynamics. Joker and Gio belonged to a big family of ex-Green Berets, their boyfriends and their friends. Since the first time I meet this group in Jack’s book, Stacking The Deck, they felt very real to me. The author created such a fabulous cast, every one of them is memorable. And watching them interact with each other is always a treat.

    However, the real star of the show is Chip. I loved all his cute doggy antics! New dog Cookie is also a sweetheart. You need to see how Cookie came into the picture. This part is pure heart-melter!

    Sleight of Hand gave us everything we hoped for for our boys, Joker and Gio. Theirs was a fun, emotional, fluffy, sweet, delicious and happy coming together, with furry friends to light their way and human friends to cheer them on. Well played, Charlie Cochet!

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

    Soundtrack: Wild Heart
    Artist: Bleachers
    Album: Strange Desire

    P.S.

    Sleight of Hand is best read after meeting all the Kings, Jack and their fabulous Boyfriend Collective in the sister series, Four Kings Security and The Kings: Wild Cards Book 1, Stacking The Deck.


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     US |  UK

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    SLEIGHT OF HAND

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    SERIES REVIEW: Claimings Books 1 & 2 by Lyn Gala

    *note: long post so you can skip to the end for the tl:dr version if you wamt

    Covers like these make it easy to dismiss alien romance as nothing more than smut with freaky body parts. But judgey mcjudgey me should have learned my lesson from Earth Fathers Are Weird. This is Lyn Gala we’re talking about here and she is a master of romances that are out of this world.

    I picked up this series because I found out it is narrated by John Solo. He blew me away with his performance in Earth Fathers Are Weird so it’s pretty much guaranteed this was going to be enjoyable even if the story itself might not be that good. Turns out, this was absolutely perfect!

    Claimings is so much more than alien meet cute. It is an epic love story, a very unique cultural experience and perhaps, also a mini commentary on human nature. It introduces us to a species known as the Rownt.

    Rownt are natives of the planet Parorownt. They are a large, extremely long-lived humanoid species with heights up to 11 ft and lifespans reaching a millennium or so. They have purple skin and tails. They are born from eggs. They are very vaguely based on turtles.

    The Rownt are a status-conscious, matriarchal society ruled by grandmothers (who, btw, are total badasses, you’ll love ’em!). They have a highly logical mindset, predatory nature and live solitary lives. They only engage in sex to procreate then go their separate ways immediately after the act. They are highly protective of children but don’t have family units. Their primary occupation is trading and thus live for profit. As Liam puts it, this is a society that “worships on the altar of business acumen

    I am not a detail-oriented reader. I tend to gloss over a lot of things. That I can easily recall these information is a testament to how immersive this series is. This is one of the most fully-realized worlds I have ever come across. The amount of details the author put into these books is astounding. And she did it without making me feel overwhelmed. She made the Rownt feel real and likable yet still truly alien.

    And the language! I enjoyed this part so much. It was like she created a foreign language using English words. We gradually pick up Rownt-speak the same time the MC, Liam, is learning his way around it. This is one of my favorite parts of a Lyn Gala book.

    I loved how the way the author writes about two characters trying to work around language and cultural barriers. She always does it in an amusing and thought-provoking way. And it further heightens the feeling of being in another planet.

    Sgt. Liam Munsun is a soldier, linguist and trader currently assigned as a liason in Prarowont. After many traumatic experiences fighting in the civil war, Liam wants a peaceful, boring life. Trading in the Rownt marketplace is as close as he could get to that.

    One day, he met a certain Rownt trader named Ondry with whom he struck a friendship. They had lunches together and spent their time talking about Rownt culture. This went on for about 5 years until Liam had a new superior officer who treated him badly. Ondry saw this incident and immediately made a move to stake his claim on Liam. This is where things get really, really interesting.


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    Claimings: Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts – Lyn Gala

    Liam loves his life as a linguist and trader on the Rownt homeworld, but he has ignored his heart and sexual needs for years. After escaping the horrors of war, he wants a boring life. He won’t risk letting anyone come too close because he won’t risk letting anyone see his deeply submissive nature. For him, submission comes with pain. Life burned that lesson into his soul from a young age.

    This fear keeps him from noticing that the Rownt trader Ondry cares for him. Ondry may not understand humans, but he recognizes a wounded soul, and his need to protect Liam is quickly outpacing his common sense. They may have laws, culture, and incompatible genitalia in their way, but Ondry knows that he can find a way to overcome all that if he can just overcome the ghosts of Liam’s past. Only then can he take possession of a man he has grown to respect.


    The first book is solely from Liam’s POV. For 5 years, our boy was apparently very oblivious to the fact that he was being courted by Ondry. The astute trader recognized that he is paltea, a certain type of rare individual highly valued by the Rownt.

    Because I didn’t even read the blurb properly, it took me a while to figure out what it meant until it was spelled out to me. And so I suddenly realized I’m right smack in the middle of a BDSM set up. A pretty unique one at that.

    The Rownt perspective is especially significant because humans tend to look at submissives as weak and broken. Liam had a really shitty past where his submissive nature was abused (TW: off page sexual abuses). His current situation wasn’t helping either. He’s good at his job but knows he’s not going to be promoted because of his past.

    Meanwhile, to the Rownt, a paltea is someone who serves, someone who devotes his life to his chilta‘s happiness. Therefore, such person should be cherished and protected at all cost. They are the closest thing these solitary creatures ever get to a spouse.

    While the two did get around their anatomical differences to enjoy sexual pleasures (which involved creative use of twitchy appendages), the beauty of Ondry and Liam’s dom/sub relationship is that it’s not even sexual in nature. It is a relationship of equals where one person willingly gives his complete submission to a dominant who would fight even the gods to protect his beloved submissive.

    His very obvious pride of his paltea, his gentle comforts to the wounded man, his growly protectiveness, his single-minded devotion to Liam delivered in unerring Rownt logic, Ondry just makes you swoon!

    The dork is so damn proud of his Liam, he goes around town just to show him off. Also, his “unholy glee” whenever Liam bested another trader.

    Liam! I was rooting really hard for this guy. Such a cinnamon roll. The man deserves all the hugs! I liked that he has a good sense of humor without being wasn’t overly sassy. I could definitely relate to him wanting a boring life.

    This book blew me away so much that I finished it in one sitting. Then I immediately dived into the sequel.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Protect
    Artist: High Sunn
    Album: Wishes


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    Claiming: Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities – Lyn Gala

    Ondry and Liam have settled into a good life, but their trading is still tied up with humans, and humans are always messy. When political changes at the human base lead Ondry to attempt a difficult trade, the pair find themselves entangled in human affairs. Liam wants to help the people he left and the worlds being torn apart. He also wants to serve Ondry with not only the pleasures of the nest but also by bringing human profits.

    Ondry has no hope of understanding human psychology in general, he only knows that he will hold onto his palteia with the last breath in his body, and he’d like to keep his status and his wealth too. Unfortunately, new humans bring new conflicts and he is not sure how to protect Liam. He does know one thing that humans seem to constantly forget—that the peaceful Rownt are predators and when their families are threatened, Rownt become deadly killers. Liam is his family, and Ondry will protect him with his last breath… assuming that he can recognize the dangers in time to do so.


    Here we meet another human who attempts to liaise with the Parorownt natives. What she was actually trying to do was, well, let’s just say Ondry wasn’t pleased.

    We finally get Ondry’s POV along with Liam’s. I love getting inside the Rownt’s head. He finds humans confusing, amusing. and not very bright. Excerpt of course for his Liam who he adores. If he could bind this human to his very existence, he would.

    Our boy Liam is practically a Rownt now. He very much came into his own here. He’s so happy now! I also loved how he and Ondry just sync together perfectly.. The trust between the two men was absolute, the love and affection was infinite and pure.

    That scene after they were attacked by a huge predatory animal was, hands down, the most intimate scene I have ever come across with. It’s even more intimate than sex scenes.

    This was the part where Ondy was making sure Liam wasn’t injured. I had this weird feeling of wanting to move away and give them privacy. I was holding my breath the entire time! For this scene alone, John Solo deserves an award for his sublime performance.

    The second book answers my burning concern regarding the huge difference in Rownt and human lifespans. For which I was so relieved because I don’t want Liam dying on Ondry any time soon.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: It Would Be An Honor
    Artist: Night Terrors Of 1927
    Album: Everything’s Coming Up Roses


    Admittedly, Liam and Ondry’s caudal bonding might not be someone’s preferred way of interspecies liaising. But freaky body parts notwithstanding, these are alien stories with a lot of heart. Claimings is one of the most achingly tender and breathtakingly beautiful love stories out there.

    The first two books are set in Parorownt. The next two take Liam and Ondry to space. I will review them in the future. The series is should be read in order in audiobook as decreed by the grandmothers.


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    Claimings: US | UK

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    Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts
    Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities
    Affiliations, Aliens, and Other Profitable Pursuits
    Expedition, Estimation, and Other Dangerous Pastimes


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    SERIES REVIEW: Vigilance Books 3 & 4 by Silvia Violet

    Vigilance is an erotic romance spinoff of The Marchesi Family featuring a group of vigilantes headed by a mysterious individual simply known as X. The first book, Giorgio is a bodyguard romance involving X’s son, Lane. The followup, Niall, is an enemies to lovers story with the titular character butting heads with pawnshop owner, Marcus.

    Leo is the third book. Leo is a tattoo artist who found himself falling for his new employee, Ezra. The last book, Xavier, finally shed light on the their leader who thought himself straight until he met the young hacker, Emilio.

    The first three books follow their overarching mission to bring down a human trafficking ring. For the series finale, X had to protect Emilio from another hacker who threatened to expose their identities.

    This is a review of Books 3 and 4, Leo and Xavier.


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    Vigilance: Leo – Silvia Violet

    I used to be CIA. Now I’m a tattoo artist and a vigilante.

    When a new hire at my shop gets too curious about my less-than-legal activities, he needs all the protection I can give him.

    He wants a lot more. More than I should be willing to give. And yet, the longer I keep him close for his own safety… the more I want him in my bed.


    This is the series going slow-burn with Leo trying to resist the cute waiter turned receptionist, Ezra, at his tattoo shop. Then he caught the younger man eavesdropping on a Vigilance meeting. Ezra found himself caught up in their mission and a target of the evil villain, Swain.

    Swain was aggressively making his move, even making threats to X at his own fundraising party. Vigilance had to act and they had to act fast.

    The story wraps up the human trafficking thread. It gave a pretty satisfying resolution and I really liked that the Marchesis were there to assist. However, I don’t really care about the romance since I wasn’t drawn to either Leo or Ezra.

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

    Soundtrack: Tied Down
    Artist: Jaymes Young
    Album: Feel Something


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    Vigilance: Xavier – Silvia Violet

    I thought I was straight.
    I thought protecting my identity mattered more than anything besides family.
    Then Emilio came to me for protection.
    It’s my fault he’s in danger, and no one is going to touch him.
    No one besides me. 


    This is the book I’m most looking forward to. I was super curious about X. My enthusiasm petered out because this book fell into the same pattern as the other stories.

    There’s a threat to a young submissive man and a Vigilance member feels insta-lust and the overwhelming need to protect him. They hole up in a some isolated place, in this case X’s private island, had lots of sex, fall in love within a day or two, then a rushed action/suspense ending. There’s bisexual awakening thrown in the mix for variety but overall, it’s too similar to Giorgio and Lane’s story. Maybe, the author was going for parallels but I couldn’t help wishing that things went differently.

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

    Soundtrack: First Time
    Artist: Josef Salvat
    Album: The Close / The Reveil


    I liked the Vigilance boys better when they’re interacting with each other. That’s when you could see more of their personalities. I enjoyed their banter and their camaraderie. With their love interests, they tend to fall into the same mold, which is why I wasn’t keen about the romance.

    All the books were into BDSM. Even if it’s not my thing, I’m ok with it. However, most of the couples here were a dominant, controlling alpha paired with a very pliant younger, smaller man. The only exception was Niall and Marcus. That’s why they’re my favorite.

    I wasn’t wowed by the series overall. As I mentioned in my review of the first two books, I am aware it would be steamy but I was hoping for a more balanced presentation. It is unfortunate that the action scenes were relegated to the endings and were over almost as soon as they started. I wanted a bit more focus on the mission.

    This is a ME problem because other people have thoroughly enjoyed the books. They are best read with the mindset that they are primarily BDSM romance with some action on the side. If this is your thing, there’s a good chance you’ll find the books a lot of fun.

    And I have to say, there was something about Vigilance that made me finish the entire thing. I guess I liked the idea of a vigilante group plus the Marchesi cameos are always an incentive. Then there goes Lancelot Theriot and his pet monkey and so here I am, excited for another spinoff series, The Theriot Family.

    P.S.

    Vigilance should be read in order. Find out how grumpy ex-military sniper Giorgio unknowingly hooked up with his very off-limits boss’s son, the sparkly and fabulous Lane, in Book 1. Also, check out Niall and Marcus’ business with the blue speedo in Book 2. Reviews here.

    While you’re at it, meet the notorious bunch who love cannoli as much as they love causing trouble, The Marchesi Family. Series review here.


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    US: GIORGIO | NIALL | LEO | XAVIER
    UK: GIORGIO | NIALL | LEO | XAVIER

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    GIORGIO | NIALL | LEO

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Sweet As Honey by Lucy Lennox

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    Aster Valley: Sweet As Honey – Lucy Lennox

    When I rode my bike into Aster Valley, it was supposed to be temporary. A quick, relaxing visit with friends. No entanglements. Zero drama.

    But then I saw the bumblebee being harassed on the side of the highway.

    More specifically, I saw Truman Sweet, Aster Valley’s resident botanist, spice merchant, and bee-costume enthusiast, being harassed. And the second I got involved, all my plans for a quick departure scattered like pollen on the breeze.

    It turns out that Truman—adorkably shy, relentlessly sunshiny, hot as all heck, reluctantly-still-a-virgin Truman—has secrets. Secrets someone in this charming small town doesn’t want brought to light. Secrets that rouse every one of my protective instincts just as surely as his kisses rouse… other parts of me.

    And before I know it, I’m thinking being entangled might not be so bad… if it’s Truman I’m tangled up with.

    I’ll do whatever it takes to protect Truman from the dangers in his past, but after a lifetime of loneliness and disappointment, how can I possibly convince him to trust me with his future?


    Time for another much anticipated visit to Aster Valley, a small town in the Colorado Mountains that’s big on charm and personality.

    The second full-length novel, Sweet As Honey, delivers a delightful love story between an adorkable plant geek and his adoring bad boy biker.

    It all started with a bumblebee.

    So Sam Rigby was cruising down the highway, minding his own business, when he spotted a bumblebee being harassed. He comes to its rescue and discovers it’s the friend of his bestfriend Mikey, the spice shop owner Truman Sweet. Then a truck comes barreling down the road and crushes his bike. They go to the town to report the incident, only for cops to surround them. Truman faints and Sam ends up looking like the bad guy.

    As Sam and Truman got to know each other better and become progressively closer, Sam learns that that incident was one of the many, many harassments Truman had endured under the hands of a pair of brothers. Their uncle is the town sheriff so good luck reporting that. All because of a shared past that Truman kept secret throughout most his life.

    This series has some of the worst villains out there. Give me blood and gore chaotic evils and I could take them on any time. It’s the lawful evil that really, really gets under my skin. In Book 1, it was Mikey’s dad, the coach. A guy who pretends he’s okay with queers but works underhandedly to undermine his gay son. Here, it’s Truman’s friend, Barney, and Sam’s mother and his sisters.

    Without giving too much away, these people pretend to look out for one’s own good then proceeds to gaslight, manipulate, spout biblical references even fake a medical emergency just to get their way. I hated them. They almost made me quit. I felt they belong to darker books. They are effective emotion-wise and plot-wise but they don’t encourage re-reads simply because I don’t want to meet them again.

    Happily, the good guys were awesome and they are most definitely worth the stay. I really enjoyed going through each MC’s thoughts. Truman is strong and brave, brilliant and funny. He had me chuckling in a couple of scenes. At times, very awkward but when you hit upon something relevant to his interests, off he goes talking non-stop about one trivia after another. I loved it when he’s on a roll. And Sam adored it too.

    We first knew Sam as Mikey’s bestfriend from Right As Raine. He owns a construction business. He doesn’t consider himself a relationship kind of guy. But the thing about Sam is that he’s very protective about the people he cares about. And his family is also shit. That’s why he and Mikey always looked out for each other. Then he found Truman, realized this was his person and grabbed on tightly.

    This book is one of the most wonderful and fluffily sweet romances out there. I lived for those heart-melting scenes! Sam and Truman were just perfect together. I loved the way they instinctively knew what the other needs without trampling all over the other person’s self-worth and autonomy. This was especially relevant because of the way Truman was treated by other people. I also loved how they used their brains, trusted one another and held on even as bad guys attempted to tear them apart again and again.

    I know I said the antagonists almost pulled me out of the story but this book is really more fluff than drama. It’s made up of a cast that I loved seeing again and again (except the bullies, of course). Tiller and Mikey played prominent roles throughout the story and Gentry and Winter also made appearances. So I recommend reading all the books in order, including the prequel.

    Sweet As Honey is a story about small towns secrets, family drama, building friendships, knowing who to trust and finding that person who feels like home. Overall, I had a great time with Sam and Truman. Aster Valley proved, yet again, it’s the place to be.

    P.S.

    Yes, the first two books are not to be missed. Witness a magical rockstar moment between folk rock superstar Gentry Kane and the titular Winter Waites in the prequel novella. Squee every time multi-million-dollar football receiver Tiller Raine calls his chef/coach’s son, Michael Vinning, my Mikey in Right As Raine.

    Reviews of Winter Waites and Right As Raine here.

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

    Soundtrack: Honey
    Artist: Boy Pablo
    Album: Wachito Rico!


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

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    RIGHT AS RAINE | SWEET AS HONEY

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Vigilance Books 1 & 2 by Silvia Violet

    Vigilance is the spin-off series of The Marchesi Family. It’s about a group of men who take on crime in order to right the wrongs the usual law enforcement authorities couldn’t or wouldn’t handle. I was excited to read this series when I met some of the members who were backing up the Marchesis in rescuing Devil’s boyfriend, Joe.

    Vigilance members might not be related by blood but they had a great found family thing going on and undying loyalty to each other much like the Marchesi’s. The series as a whole had a similar feel to the original series. It started with me not feeling the first book that much but stayed on because I was super intrigued by their group’s cause and their leader.

    The relationships in each book showcase different BDSM-type dynamics. The romances are insta-lust turned insta-love. I’m more of a slowburn person so I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the them. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

    My usual complaint with the Silvia Violet stories I encountered is that she always had this nice overarching plot as well as interesting characters but tends to focus too much on the sex. I know this is her thing but I think it’s a wasted opportunity to create a nicely balanced action/suspense romance instead of an erotic romance that happens to have some action/suspense.

    I’m saying this because the taking down human traffickers plot was a great overarching thread, especially when they had to go against a high-ranking politician who was so damn hard to catch. However, it was unfortunate that this side of the story was minimized in favor of the romance. The books had such rushed endings. They could have had great action scenes right there.

    This is my review of the first two books, Giorgio and Niall.


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    Vigilance: Giorgio – Silvia Violet

    I’m a sniper. A trained operator. A bodyguard. A member of the elite private security force known as Vigilance.

    When my boss’s son acquires a stalker, of course I’m the one he calls to keep the guy safe. Mr. X’s one rule? Keep my hands to myself.

    Not a problem.

    At least, not until I meet Lane Porter.

    He’s gorgeous. Flamboyant. Fascinating. He makes me want things I can’t have. He stretches my self-control to the limit… and then breaks it.

    As the threat to Lane intensifies, we’re forced to hide out in a remote, one-bedroom cabin with danger stalking us from all sides, but suddenly keeping the boss’s son safe isn’t enough.

    My new mission is to make Lane mine.


    Giorgio was one of the guys who helped the Marchesis thus earning him their friendship and loyalty. He was tasked to guard the son of X, the Vigilance boss. He was explicitly told to keep his hands off the young man. Said young man was also the guy he hooked up with the night before.

    I didn’t care much for the two MCs. Giorgio’s character was supposedly a grumpy, protective, alpha male but he’s so domineering he became one-dimensional. I didn’t like the way he treated Lane. Lane, fabulous and sparkly, did his best to shine. He would have but his appeal was dimmed by his instant capitulations and Giorgio’s looming presence.

    There’s not much going on here and most of it was Giorgio and Lane having sex too much too soon without protection. Also, I’m not a fan of the dom/sub kink so I was meh on the romance.

    However, this book set things in motion and introduced the various mainstays of Vigilance who each have their own books. I pushed on because I was invested in the rest of the vigilantes.

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

    Soundtrack: You Can Dominate Me
    Artist: Andy Samford
    Album: You Can Embrace Eternity’s Cosmic Truth


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    Vigilance: Niall – Silvia Violet

    I’m a former FBI agent. Now I’m on the opposite side of the law as part of an underground vigilante organization. When the fight to stop a crime ring pairs me with a pawn shop owner, it’s hate at first sight. Fun fact: Hate and desire aren’t mutually exclusive. To further the investigation, Marcus and I must pretend to be boyfriends. Too much time spent in close proximity has me wondering if Marcus might have the power to thaw my icy heart.


    Niall was also another member who was involved in helping the Marchesis. That’s where he met Marcus, the pawnshop owner who was assisting as well. They hated each other, hooked up once upon a time ago and now had to be fake boyfriends in order to infiltrate the human trafficking ring in an exclusive island estate.

    I liked this one much better. Niall and Marcus had more personalities. Niall tends to be more uptight and wears fancy suits that instantly pegged him as a fed. Marcus is more laid back, snarky and likes being control.

    Their relationship felt more like that of equals. They had a fun thing going with their antagonistic interactions. And Marcus was all protective dominant alpha male without trampling all over Niall

    This book was also better balanced in terms of various elements. Unlike Giorgio and Lane, Niall and Marcus were actually doing their jobs instead of boinking all the time. Also, Giorgio was more likable here now that he’s out and about.

    We are introduced to some bad guys and some whose motives are not yet clear. Their undercover investigation really moved a lot of things forward. And they were so close too. But the evil villain is one slippery mofo.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Surrender Your Heart
    Artist: Missing Persons
    Album: Rhyme & Reason


    Vigilance might not have the strongest openings but once you get past that, it’s easy to get hooked. It a fun, escapist series that’s light on drama and heavy on the action. Recommended for those looking for steamy BDSM-flavored romance with a side of crime-fighting.

    I also recommend reading The Marchesi Family to get the most out of the experience. Characters from that series appear here as well. Vigilance is best read in order. Leo’s and X’s stories are next. X is the one I’m most looking forward to. He’s so mysterious we don’t even have his real name yet.

    Check out my series review of The Marchesi Family here.


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    GIORGIO | NIALL | LEO

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Down Low by Parker St. John

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    Down Home: Down Low – Parker St. John

    His broken bones could finally mend their broken bond…

    Bull riding was the only thing that calmed the thrill-seeking, self-destructive beast inside of Calvin Craig. It allowed him to escape a small-minded town and the pain of his troubled youth, fleeing to bright lights and big city fame without looking back.

    One trip on the horns of the wrong bull changed everything.

    Cal is forced to come crawling back home for the first time in ten years, his body broken and riding days behind him. But not everyone is happy for the return of their local celebrity.

    Eli Jackson was once the tall, dark, and sinful preacher’s son who had Cal wrapped around his little finger. Now the steely-eyed sheriff of Sweetwater, Eli is hell bent on running him right back out of town. He’s never forgiven Cal for the spectacular implosion of their relationship. Even though the lingering tension soon has them burning up the sheets, he refuses to be tamed.

    Cal is surprised to find himself rising to a new challenge: breaking the bull that is Eli Jackson.

    He might have run out of luck, but he’s not out of miracles… yet.


    Down Low was an emotional rollercoaster. I found myself enjoying the heck out of it. It was so good! This is an angsty, second chance, friends to enemies to lovers story of high school sweethearts Calvin Craig and Eli Jackson.

    Cal and Eli were each other first loves. They had to keep their relationship a secret because Eli was the son of a hellfire and brimstone pastor. In their senior year, Cal wanted to come out but Eli was hesitant. He was heading to college and couldn’t jeopardize his future. They had an ugly fight. The next day, Cal disappeared.

    Ten years after, we see Cal returning home (slunking more like). For the past decade, he was a bull-riding superstar and had the broken bones to show for it. He was still healing in several parts, too injured to ride again. The moment he arrived in Sweetwater, he was in for a lot of surprises. Also, Eli hated his guts.

    Cal is a “pipsqueak who doesn’t know when to quit” according to Eli. He was bullied in high school. Bull-riding is all he knows. He is a self-destructive adrenaline junkie who would risk permanent injury to save those he cared about. Eli is the town sheriff. He is level-headed and dependable but has a dark streak hidden deep inside.

    The book is solely from Cal’s POV. I wished we had Eli’s POV too. Sometimes, when we get a 1st person POV from a person who pines for somebody, it feels unbalanced. Like the other person has all the power. But this was soon put to rights as the story progressed. We witness Eli being drawn to Cal like a magnet and learn his side of the story.

    The book perfectly depicted all the conflicting, heart-crushing emotions of seeing your first love after 10 years, the one who betrayed you but still loved after all this time. The longing, the USTs, the hate kisses, the flames gloriously coming back to life. My heart went out to Cal and Eli. They had to sort through a decade of hurts and misunderstandings. Mutual pining, anyone? ♡

    I loved the parts where Eli couldn’t help himself. He just had to kiss Cal even if he wanted to punch him just as badly. Cal loves pushing his buttons and when Eli’s buttons are pushed, that’s when things get seriously explosive.

    Peak Cal moment is him singing Son Of A Preacher Man offkey at the top of his voice just to annoy Eli, instead of enjoying the cozy morning after. Which ended their very brief “truce” and sent them back to square one a.k.a. Eli hating him again.

    Each chapter is marked with a song and opens with a short flashback. I loved how the writing seamlessly take us back to the past and juxtaposed it with the present. We see how Cal’s teen self views the world, perhaps still in a limited, adults are enemies way most people his age do. He created a boogeyman in Eli’s father, who was a huge presence not only in their lives but the entire town as well.

    His adult self was very much surprised with how much his small town has changed. And how it still the same podunk town he left behind. I enjoyed the parts where he realized things were different now, more accepting and open. Bullies are now friends and the pastor is only a human who loves his son.

    The book also excelled in bringing bull-riding to life. This is a world I know nothing about, but here, it was portrayed, not so much in vivid detail, but with well-written glimpses that easily captured the rodeo world. It brought us the heat and adrenaline, the heart stopping triumphs and the sometimes fatal losses, and the indomitable spirits of men who risk life and limb for 8 precious seconds.

    Down Low is simply wonderful. It is one man’s eye-opening homecoming, a reliving of unforgettable memories, a comfort for years of hurts, a fixing of mistakes, and a tumultuous reunion of childhood sweethearts. It takes us through a whole gamut of emotions, sad, happy, painful, sweet and more. Yeah, quite a ride this one!

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

    Soundtrack: Son of a Preacher Man
    Artist: The John Does
    Album:


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