My Top 10 Reads of 2018
1. Death and the Devil Series – L.J. Hayward
Explosive, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thrills. Sizzling unconventional romance. Yes, the entire series is the best thing to come out this year. Everything’s a solid 5
2. The Agency: Merlin in the Library – Ada Maria Soto
The ace romance story of my dreams
3. Green Greek: Ravensong – T.J. Klune
dirt and leaves and rain. packwitchmateheart
4. On Davis Row – N.R. Walker
So emotional and emotionally satisfying I got goosebumps.
5. Captive Prince: The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant – C.S. Pacat
We’ll make another kind of empire.
6. The Auspicious Troubles of Love: The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe – Charlie Cochet
A sqee-tastic, tension filled, delicious slow burn dance of the young and impetuous.
7. Bureau: Creature – Kim Fielding
Because love means loving him, even though. The best Bureau story so far.
8. Bad Behavior: Reckless Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z
A police procedural story that went above and beyond. Perfect combination of flawless writing and heartfelt narration.
9. Lord of the Butterflies – Andrea Gibson
Powerful poetic stuff!
10. Whyborne & Griffin: Balefire – Jordan L. Hawk
The best W&G book yet! Whetting our appetites for the final magnificent showdown.
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo – Marlon Bundo & Jill Twiss
Attack of the super cute!
The Agency: Merlin in the Library – Ada Maria Soto
An Agency Short Story
Agent Martin Grove is in pain every minute of the day while his wounds slowly heal. As soon as one injury starts to fade another that was hidden presents itself, but despite that Martin is, above all, a man who appreciates routine. For him that means ‘Merlin’ must return to the regularly scheduled Saturday Children’s’ Story Hour at the library. He’s been absent for too long and his body is still a technicolor canvas of physical damage, but as long as he has his Arthur by his side, he just might make it.
Last year, His Quiet Agent blew me away with the soft, sweet story of Martin and Arthur. That it is also a wonderfully done ace romance made it unforgettable for me.
Merlin in the Library is the epilogue that follows the aftermath of Martin’s reappearance and it is written in his POV (Thank you, Ada Maria!). Martin was recovering from his injuries and trying to pick up his routines. Arthur has now become an important person in his life and together they continue the Saturday story class.
This is such a lovely follow up.
Still as soft as the first story or perhaps more tender now that we get a glimpse inside Martin’s fragile mental state and his connection with Arthur. I love how the author was able to develop their relationship with a delicate hand in a slow but sure way. It warms my heart to see Arthur and Martin are doing well. I hope we get more stories about them.
Me raving about His Quiet Agent here.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
His Quiet Agent – Ada Maria Soto
Arthur Drams works for a secret government security agency, but all he really does is spend his days in a cubicle writing reports no one reads. After getting another “lateral promotion” by a supervisor who barely remembers his name, it’s suggested that Arthur try to ‘make friends’ and ‘get noticed’ in order to move up the ladder. It’s like high school all over again: his attempts to be friendly come across as awkward and creepy, and no one wants to sit at the same table with him at lunch. In a last-ditch attempt to be seen as friendly and outgoing, he decides to make friends with The Alien, aka Agent Martin Grove, known for his strange eating habits, unusual reading choices, and the fact that no one has spoken to him in three years.
Starting with a short, surprisingly interesting conversation on sociology books, Arthur slowly begins to chip away at The Alien’s walls using home-cooked meals to lure the secretive agent out of his abrasive shell. Except Martin just might be something closer to an actual secret agent than paper-pusher Arthur is, and it might be more than hearts at risk when something more than friendship begins to develop.
Please note this book has a Heat Rating of zero.
First of all, the other book model doesn’t match the character of Martin Grove. They were suppose to be both young. Sorry, I tend to be very particular about book covers.
I love this! I really love this!! Given that most MM books have lust-based attractions, this book is refreshingly lust-free. Nobody was waxing poetic about the color of the eyes, nobody was getting hard-ons about sexy this, sexy that. It was simply all about connecting heart and mind with another person without thinking you want to fuck them. It was beautiful and totally my thing.
There’s something vaguely Japanese or should I say anime-esque in the way Martin is quiet. I usually encounter a lot of characters in manga and anime who are expressionless, rarely say a word or two, don’t make grand declarations and express themselves in the most subtle expressions. Martin is a complete enigma. We are given teeny tiny glimpses of his life but he is a tough nut to crack. Even that clue at the ending gives you more questions than answers so book two please?
And then in these kinds of stories, there is usually somebody, a persistent, do-gooding type, in this case Arthur, who slowly but surely chips away the wall and win their trust. I love how Arthur kept Martin’s trust and Martin showed his trust by slowly letting him in his solitary life. Also Arthur can cook a mean Pho and kept feeding Martin Vietnamese food. Courtship by food is always a win.
I sniggered at how nosy and gossipy the secret agents are. Carol, the not so hardcore lesbian, is a delight. In her own words:
And every pretty gay boy needs a tough, hardcore lesbian in their corner and every tough lesbian needs a pretty gay boy for balance. It’s in the rule book.
This is not a book where feelings were explicitly said yet it was one of the most emotional and emotionally satisfying book I’ve read so far. I usually hate how people just casually throw words of affection around. I feel it cheapens the sentiment. Here is how it’s done by Martin:
Finally, he raised his hand and touched his fingers to his forehead. “I can give you this.” He lowered his hand and pressed the tips of his fingers to the center of his chest. “And I can give you this. But not the rest. It’s not who I am. Or what I am.”
This speaks volumes:
Arthur turned his hand around and laced their fingers together. He could feel his own heart rushing in his chest as Martin’s fingers entwined with his. Better than a fumbled kiss or faked affection. It was strong and true. And it was theirs.
Oh, happy goosebumps!
5 Stars – absolutely perfect