Review: “A Prayer for the Dead” by Victor J.Banis

TITLE: A Prayer for the Dead
AUTHOR: Victor J.Banis
SERIES: Tom and Stanley
PUBLISHER: DSP Publications
COVER ARTIST: Adrian Nicholas
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Apr 17, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

A Tom and Stanley Mystery
Second Edition
Does murder follow Tom and Stanley around, or do they follow the murders?
After a hospital stay, Stanley is invited by Father Brighton to convalesce at St. Marywood, an isolated monastery on the ocean cliffs of Big Sur. Upon arrival, Stanley finds Father Brighton dead. The order’s doctor writes it up as a death by natural causes, but those seem to be quite prevalent at the monastery. The recent demise of a young brother who fell from the cliffs is described as an accident, but Stanley’s nose is twitching. Plus the order’s finances have taken a sudden, mysterious turn for the better. Is something rotten at St. Marywood?
Stanley and Tom can’t resist digging around, even if it means testing their tumultuous relationship against a gaggle of handsome, young, virginal, and—they are told—gay men.
Continues the Deadly Mysteries Series published with MLR Press.


While Stanley is recovering in his hospital bed, a friar comes to visit him. Father Brighton is an old acquaintance of Chris, Stanley’s best friend, and invites him to convalesce at St Marywood, an old monastery on the ocean cliffs.
Stanley agrees to go with Chris, without Tom but when they arrive, they find Father Brighton dead. Most surprising, it’s not the first death in this monastery, a young man was dead a few weeks ago.
Stanley, the trouble magnet he is, understands that there’s no coincidence in those two deaths and even if he claims disliking it, the detective in him wants to investigate.
A Prayer for the Dead is book 7 in this new edition of Tom and Stanley mysteries.

Stanley starts the investigation alone, without his Tom. He couldn’t help it, he knew something was wrong with those deaths. The first part of the book is all about Stanley and Chris trying to solve this new mystery. The second part, Tom comes because he missed Stanley…ok, he didn’t say this, but I knew, he can’t lure me with false pretenses, and our super duet of detectives succeed in their mission. I was glad when he came because Tom Danzel is soooooooo Tom Danzel, and so hot, like super mega alpha hot. Even if they seem to be opposite (and they are), they’re also are complementary and really good together.

I liked this book and this story. It reminds me of a gay lighter version of the novel The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (I love this book). You know the old suffocating atmosphere in an isolated monastery with mysterious priests or friars here. But like I said, it was a gay version, since all the members of this community are gay.

Even if the atmosphere seems religious and heavy, the book was light, fresh, funny and dynamic. There’s some comical of situations with hilarious moments. Personally, my favorite is the naked man with the jockstrap on a cliff… Yes, it’s sounds like Clue (I loved this game), and I won’t tell you more, you’ll just have to read the book and find this scene.
It was a pleasurable read, funny with a good mystery, and I didn’t see the big explanation coming, not at all.

It’s 4 OptimuMMs for my favorite PI.

***The ARC was provided by DSP Publication . My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Southernmost Murder” by C.S. Poe

TITLE: Southernmost Murder
AUTHOR: C.S. Poe
SERIES: Snow and Winter
PUBLISHER: DSP Publications
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $14.99 -paperback

BLURB:

Aubrey Grant lives in the tropical paradise of Old Town, Key West, has a cute cottage, a sweet moped, and a great job managing the historical property of a former sea captain. With his soon-to-be-boyfriend, hotshot FBI agent Jun Tanaka, visiting for a little R&R, not even Aubrey’s narcolepsy can put a damper on their vacation plans.
But a skeleton in a closet of the Smith Family Historical Home throws a wrench into the works. Despite Aubrey and Jun’s attempts to enjoy some time together, the skeleton’s identity drags them into a mystery with origins over a century in the past. They uncover a tale of long-lost treasure, the pirate king it belonged to, and a modern-day murderer who will stop at nothing to find the hidden riches. If a killer on the loose isn’t enough to keep Aubrey out of the mess, it seems even the restless spirit of Captain Smith is warning him away.
The unlikely partnership of a special agent and historian may be exactly what it takes to crack this mystery wide-open and finally put an old Key West tragedy to rest. But while Aubrey tracks down the X that marks the spot, one wrong move could be his last.


This is book three of the series. As the first two books were with Sebastian, this can be read as a standalone, but I always suggest reading the first two to keep caught up on the characters. This author did a great job with this historian piece in the present day. I felt like I learned a lot about the Pirates of that century and lost treasures that many have died over. And, how true love can conquer even if it takes over a hundred years.

Aubrey is a historian that moved to The Keys after a bad break up three years ago. He’s the manager at The Smith historian house and is in the process of restoring it to the original form. He has narcolepsy, which added a bit of fun, and falls asleep at some really awkward times. The day he was supposed to go on vacation and pick his boyfriend up at the airport, a skeleton fell out of a closet he was changing the wallpaper in the Smith house. The police officer, Tillman, basically made fun of him and assumed it was that he had fallen asleep and dreamed it because when Tillman got there, Skelly was gone.

Jun, the FBI boyfriend, rented a car and made his way to Aubrey at the Smith house. He knew Aubrey from when he was partners with his ex. Jun had always been in love with Aubrey and has stayed in touch with him the past three years. Three years of flirting and talking and wanting nothing more than to show Aubrey how much he loved him. They were supposed to have a week and a half together until Skelly showed up, murders started happening, and a crash course into history screwed that all up.

I adored this couple, their sexual tension and their adventure they embark on together. I loved how Jun accepts Audrey just the way he is, narcolepsy and all. And the ending was the perfect ending. This has history, drama, suspense, and love in all the right places.

***The ARC was provided by DSP Publication . My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Santori: Reborn” by Maris Black

TITLE: Santori: Reborn
AUTHOR: Maris Black
SERIES: Santori Trilogy
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Maris Black
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Mystery / Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 254 pages
RELEASE DATE: Mar 31, 2018
PRICE: $5.99 -e-book / $12.99 – paperback

BLURB:

MICHAEL KAGE SANTORI doesn’t think his life can get any more complicated. Juggling a new business, a fledgling UFC career, and the only real relationship he’s ever had is taking a toll on him both mentally and physically. After being attacked for daring to question the inner workings of his own business, he is left broken and confused. The discovery of his uncle’s journals has brought him face-to-face with a past he never understood, and the new perspective has him reeling. Add to that the fact that he hasn’t been totally honest with the love of his life, and you have a recipe for a serious nervous breakdown.
When an old friend resurfaces with new information, Kage discovers things are only going to get worse before they get better. If he ever hopes to free himself from the chains of his uncle’s dark legacy, he’s going to have to become something he never wanted to be.
And risk losing the only person he’s ever truly loved.
JAMIE ATWOOD is in over his head. Instead of the happily ever after he’d envisioned, moving in with Kage has only been one disappointment after another. Kage has come out to the entire world and still managed to keep his reputation and his UFC contract intact, but mysterious forces Jamie has yet to discover are transforming his sexy alpha fighter into someone he doesn’t recognize anymore.
If Kage doesn’t come clean soon, Jamie fears he’s going to have to leave. With his journalism degree and a newly-flourishing MMA blog, he knows he’s got what it takes to make it on his own financially. It’s his heart he’s worried about.
Because without Kage by his side, what is there to live for?


MEANWHILE IN ANOTHER LIFETIME…
PETER SANTORI has found his bliss. Being Gio’s boy is a dream come true for a guy who thought he was doomed to a life of abuse and poverty. His confidence and sense of security are flourishing in the warm glow of Gio’s love, and he has started to believe that maybe he can have the fairytale after all.
Never mind that he’s got to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret. Never mind that one of Gio’s associates seems to have something against him. And never mind that sometimes he gets the feeling that there’s a lot more to Gio than meets the eye. All that matters is that he and Gio are together.
4 EVER & EVER…


Kage is still trying to figure out what’s happening in his uncle’s business that he inherited.
After the beating he’d taken from Theo Brown’s goons and the discovery of his uncle’s journal, Kage has to make a choice between Jamie and their future together or finding out the truth.
Jamie wants to be the man Kage needs, but how can he help him without knowing the truth?
They are in a very difficult situation with lots of secrets and lies, only their love for each other can help them…but is it enough?

Santori: Reborn is book two of the Santori trilogy.  The story starts at the end of book 1, and we keep following Kage and Jamie in their new life together.

Kage tries to understand what really happens with the Alcazar and the inheritance from his uncle, and the only way is to be close to Theo Brown. His uncle’s best friend, his right hand, and the man who seems to control the “under business” of Peter’s, the illegal ones. So Kage, without really wanting it, and forced by Aaron (the bodyguard who helps them) must work with Theo, even if it means losing Jamie and himself in the process.
I wanted to beat Kage more than he already was. He pissed me off to no end, really, the fact he accepts being manipulated by Theo and Aaron (don’t let me start about Aaron) and plays their game, pissed me off. I do believe that Kage is stronger with Jamie by his side. But I also understand why he’s ready to do anything to protect Jamie. So I refused to beat him and try to understand him.

Jamie is lost, at first, but when he understood what Kage was intending to do and that he can’t change his mind, he did the most difficult thing he can…he protects himself first. I admire him for that, and I was proud of him. Jamie starts to be more mature than the young student he was in “Kage: Trilogy”.
Then comes Peter, young Peter. I love this one. I’m still trying to understand how Young-Emo-Peter becomes Old-Coldness-Peter. His story is interesting to read along with his journal with Kage. For now, we’re still with young innocent Peter, in love with the handsome Gio Rivera.

I couldn’t help but make a parallel between Emo-Peter and Jamie, they’re the same, this same innocence and kindness, while Kage is a kind of mini Gio Rivera. It’s completely brilliant from the author to create this parallel between her characters from 2 different timelines.
I really loved this book, how the author put her characters in an area where nothing is black or white, when no one is really good or bad, it’s a universe of grey areas, when bad actions can be explaining by good motivation.

I don’t know how it will end, how Jamie and Kage will still be together, but I’m sure that I’ll read it until the end, because knowing Maris Black, she reserving more surprises.

It’s 5 brilliant OptimuMMs …. I want a fedora!

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Dead Weight” by Pandora Pine

TITLE: Dead Weight
AUTHOR: Pandora Pine
SERIES: Cold Case Psychic
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: The Killion Group
GENRE: Paranormal ; Mystery / Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 228 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 e-book

BLURB:

Cold Case Detective, Ronan O’Mara, is looking forward to starting a new life in his new home, but when a strange house warming gift appears on his doorstep, he has no idea that it marks the start of a series of events that will put his life, and the lives of everyone close to him in danger. When murders similar to those committed by dead serial killer, Rod Jacobson, start occurring around Boston, Ronan is certain he has a copycat killer on his hands.
Psychic, Tennyson Grimm, is approached by friends for help dealing with issues surrounding their son. He quickly realizes there is more going with the boy than teenaged angst. Though he doesn’t want to believe it, his psychic abilities and a series of strange paranormal occurrences point to a link between the troubled teen and the murder victims that are turning up all over Boston.
When Ronan is attacked during the investigation, it’s up to Tennyson and Captain Fitzgibbon to find the killer without him. Will they be able to stop the murderer before the evil that surrounds him destroys them all?


Dead Weights is the fourth book of the Cold Case Psychic series.
Tennyson and Ronan are newly engaged and start their new life together by moving into their new house.
Everything is going great for them. Tennyson has his powers back, Ronan and he are more in tune and in love more than ever, and they don’t have a traumatic case…for now.
But nothing can stay like that, and Tennyson has gotten new visions of murders, young men murders, like with the Rob Jacobson case, but it can’t be him, since he’s dead.
So who’s impersonating this serial killer?

This book is, in my opinion, the one that gives me the most feelings.
Tennyson and Ronan are my guys, and I loved to see them having their happy life, in their new house next to Carson and Truman. It was good, like being on vacation, after all the ups and downs we read in the 3 previous books. But of course, the author couldn’t let us be happy and in peace, nooooo, she had to make us suffer, a little bit. That’s when everything went to hell at least for me.

The case is very specific, and what we’re used to reading about the crimes and the hunt for the killer is different in this book. It was a risk, and so far, it was a good risk. This book is more cryptic I’ll say, with a little bit of religion, but it was coherent with this particular case and killer. I almost had a heart attack in the middle of the book, there’s a twist that I didn’t see coming, and it put my blood pressure very high. I can say that I was on a rollercoaster of emotions.
I liked it. It was good to be out of my comfort zone with the guys, to have to deal with new situations and not a simple plot. It wasn’t black or white this time, and like I said, I was completely hooked on the story and loving it a lot…

But the end, kind of ruined the book for me.

I don’t want to spoil the book, but I’ll try to explain it. The final scene, just before the epilogue, bothered me. In my opinion, the scene wasn’t well written, and the author missed something in it. It wasn’t that the scene doesn’t make sense, because, in this tricky situation, with this particular character, I understand why the author does that, I’m okay with the motivation, I’m not okay with how it was done. It was like everyone abandoned this character and gave him the green light, like an encouragement. It really bothered me, and kind of ruined the book for me. It pissed me off a little bit because right after this scene, the epilogue comes…and it was a beautiful epilogue (I was totally crushed, crying like a baby with big fat tears), with a lot of answers and explanations. That’s why I think this last scene wasn’t well written because maybe, if I had some of explanations that were in the epilogue in this scene, it would have given me another feeling.

That’s why I put 3 OptimuMMs for this book. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll keep reading this series, I still love it a lot, and it’s not because this book leaves me with a bittersweet aftertaste that I don’t want to follow the series anymore. That’s what happens with a series, we all have a favorite and less favorite. This is one is my less favorite.

3 OptimuMMs for me.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Vice Enforcer” by S.A Stovall

TITLE: Vice Enforcer
AUTHOR: S.A Stovall
SERIES: Vice City
PUBLISHER: DSP Publications
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense; Polar
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 250 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 3, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $12.74 -paperback

BLURB:

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.
Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.
Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.
The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.
But he’s not going down without a fight.


Eight months after faking his death, Nicholas Pierce assumed a new identity. He’s a trainee PI.
Miles Davenport, his boyfriend, is now a cop trainee and he’s at the top of his classes.

But when an investigation brings Pierce back to Jeremy Vice’s turf and his old life, Pierce and Miles realize that maybe their chance for a happy ending isn’t in the cards for them.

5 months and 1 week, that’s how long I waited this book, and yes I was counting.
After the sublime Vice City I had 5 months and 1 week to imagine and anticipated this book. And you know what, it was nothing like I was expecting.

The author took another path, a brilliant path, a necessary path.
In this sequel, we follow Pierce and Miles trying having a normal life, at least as normal as it can be with the two of them.
Pierce tries to have a legit job by being a PI. He’s still grumpy, blunt with no care for everyone except Miles. When the PI who trains him asks for his help in an investigation about human/child trafficking, Pierce accepts (not for free). He tries to play by the book, and the law, but in the end, because he is who he is, he decides to play by his rules, the one he knows best.

Miles is stronger than before, he’s one of the best trainees of his classes, and refuses to jeopardize his future by breaking the law, but he also refuses to let Pierce deal with his investigation alone. I love this new Miles, stronger, more mature. I love how he refuses to hide Pierce from his new friends, how he refuses to give up on Pierce at all, and when he has to make a choice between Pierce and the rest of the world, Pierce comes first…. That my friend, is love!

I love these guys. They’re perfect together, they’re the exact opposite of each other but also complementary. I also love how the book explores their relationship more. With Pierce experimenting the family life with dating his boyfriend, having kids around them (Miles’s little sister and brother), and, my favorite, jealousy. It was beautiful and poetic in a weird dark way (we’re talking about Pierce, guys), but it was also kind of naïve coming from him. I adore this about him, this vulnerability behind all his bravado and assholiness.

I love how the author took me in a completely different direction than what I expected. I admit, I was expecting a repeat of book 1 with the same dark violence atmosphere, the same noir Polar, and with the big bad revenge of Pierce. (I had 5 months and 1 week to think about it, and I have a wild imagination) I didn’t expect to see a “domesticated” Pierce, I was surprised, but in a good way. The Noir atmosphere, the dark side of the city and the ambivalence of the characters are still here, and it’s the soul of this series. But after what they’ve been through in book 1, they couldn’t go all guns blazing against Jeremy. I understand it now that they needed to heal, physically and emotionally. And I love that the author shows us this, how they healed and sealed their relationship. If we had a doubt about Pierce and Miles as couple in book 1, trust me, after this one there are none.

This sequel confirmed my love and admiration for this series and the author’s talent.

I highly recommend this book and series, really, you’ll love it, and for now, its the best Noir MM Romance I have read.

It’s 5 OptimuMMs (unofficially it’s still 20 out of 5).

***The ARC was provided by DSP Publication . My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis