ARC Review: Kill Game (Cordelia Kingsbridge)

Kill Game is a book whose plot (serial killer!), characters (a homicide detective — who can do Krav Maga by the way — and a bail enforcement agent), chemistry (sizzles), action (fast-paced!), and romantic development (strong and steady; the sex near the end is pretty hot too) is RIGHT up my alley! It definitely is one of my favorite reads of the year…

This is only my second book of Cordelia Kingsbridge and I seriously wonder why I haven’t read more of hers. Maybe because I’m not really into reading free online fiction *lol*. Anyway, I requested this ARC because of the first two words of the blurb: homicide detective. Other readers have their love towards firemen, or hockey players, or military officers …

Me? Homicide detective is one of my weaknesses. I didn’t even read the whole blurb completely; I saw that and I was intrigued.

What a ride this one turned out for me!! I couldn’t put this down. Kill Game is a thrilling page-turner and everything I enjoy from mystery/romance…

First, a vigilante SERIAL KILLER. Yes, The Seven of Spades only kills people who commit crime and walk away from jail time. I enjoy reading about serial killer whose victims are not exactly innocent. The moral question on whether the victims “get what they deserve” makes the story EXCITING.

Then we have the relationship dynamic between Levi (the detective) and Dominic (thebail enforcement agent). Levi thinks that Dominic is NOT his type at all. Dominic is too big, too muscular… As for Dominic, Levi is a bit too prickly. But boy, they have delicious chemistry. They work REALLY well together too; even if Dominic is not part of the Las Vegas Police Department. I think it’s because they respect each other and they are good at what they do. I also loved them individually; I especially enjoyed the added layers that Kingsbridge gave this character… like Levi having a rich boyfriend, and Dominic as a recovering gambling addict.

The love story is slow burn for me. Until at least half of this book, Levi is in a relationship with someone else. No, Levi is not cheating on his boyfriend, they already have issues. I thought Kingsbridge offered a convincing problematic relationship when the two men involved had different ending goals.

The only thing that stops Kill Game from being a perfect read for me is, well, the ending. When I read it, I wasn’t aware that it was the first novel of a series arc that spans five books. Which means when I started, I had expectations. I wasn’t prepared with the possibility that the big question wasn’t completely answered at the end… so I was a bit bummed by it.

The final line of this book was excellent though … I know I’m going to have fun building up hypothesis about the real identity of Seven of Spades. I already have my guess at the moment, but with more books, I will have more data so to speak. Now I’m eagerly waiting for the second book and counting the days until it arrives.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Kill Game
Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge
Series: Seven of Spades, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary / Mystery Romance
Word Count: 78,500 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 23, 2017

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ARC Review: Suspicious Behavior (L.A. Witt & Cari Z)

Suspicious Behavior is the follow-up for Risky Behavior, which was released in May 2017. If the first book plays rather heavily on the procedural/mystery while at the same time developing the romance between Andreas and Darren, this book is more about the consequences of Andreas and Darren shaking up the department (and the city) while navigating their status as something more than professional partners.

Andreas and Darren are basically pariahs at their precinct now. No one wants to work with them because they are considered traitors. Cops don’t rat out other cops. Both men resort to take a case from other precinct; cases that might link to a serial killer that has never been caught.

Urgh, I wanted to smack down the other detectives who make it difficult for Andreas and Darren to do their job. Fuc*king a$$holes! I really don’t get the whole “blue bloods” loyalty thing. Those cops exposed are dirty, damn it! Or maybe I’m never really do well with authority who abuses their power :p.

As for Andreas and Darren, I loved that they were solid, despite the problems from work or Darren’s family (as in his brother’s declining health). I think this time the spotlight falls on Darren. He is dealing with the possibility of carrying the same early-onset Alzheimer’s gene as his brother. Darren worries about that, and he worries that he cannot do his job well.

Previously Andreas is the difficult one, the jackass who doesn’t play nice with his partners. In here though, Andreas accepts his relationship with Darren. He … mellows a bit, I think. Repeatedly Andreas says that he wants to help Darren deal with both physical stress and emotional stress. He also comes forward about his health and relationship status with his daughter.

I definitely enjoyed the change!

The mystery is not as heavy as the first book; we find out who the bad guy is about halfway. I don’t mind though, I enjoyed the change towards more personal plot. Plus reading about Andreas’ interaction with his youngest daughter was ADORABLE!

So another satisfying read for me — too bad I have to wait until next year to read book #3 (damn it!). I mean the BLURB!! It promises intense action!!

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Permanent Ink
Author: L.A. Witt & Cari Z
Series: Bad Behavior #2
Genre: MM Contemporary / Mystery Romance
Word Count: 74,700 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 21, 2017

ARC Review: Back to You (Chris Scully)

A journalist who comes home to his sleepy hometown after two decades. A second-chance romance with the first boy he ever kissed. And an answer to the mystery of a missing teenage girl that might either make or break the possible future between the two of them

This book is (nearly) perfect for me in every way. It is MY kind of read.

From the moment it opens with Alex driving his car towards his hometown of Alton Pop. 3,200 I was bewitched with Chris Scully’s atmospheric prose. Alex returns home to visit his estranged dying father, after a call from his older sister. But Alex knows, he also going back to Benji Morning, his former best friend. Once Ben was part of Alex’s childhood life, they did everything together. And Ben was also Alex’s first kiss with a boy. Unfortunately, after Alex’s mother packed up their bags and left their father, Alex ceased to continue communication with Ben…

In hindsight, I suppose I could have Googled him, or found him on Facebook like any other long-lost friend, but I was already in motion, driving the extra hour east purely by instinct, as if Benji were my true north and I the needle on a compass.

However as he arrives in Alton, Alex is involved with a mystery involving Ben’s older sister. Twenty years ago, Misty Morning, disappeared without a trace; her case was considered a runaway. But a little over a week before Alex’s arrival, Misty’s car was found near a lake, and Ben’s mother insisted for the police to re-open the case.

The memory of Misty’s white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme seeped into my brain, coalescing like a slow-developing Polaroid. Calling it a shit-bucket would have been generous.

Back to You is written solely from Alex’s perspective. While Ben’s POV is missing but I wasn’t completely bothered by it. For me, this is basically Alex’s journey. He is the one returning home. He is the one that needs to make peace with his father and his decision to ‘cut-off’ any communication with Ben. In a way that matters Ben’s is the solid one — like Alex said, his true north.

I was as engaged with the answer to the mystery as much as I did with the romance. Scully cleverly throws some red herrings before she reveals what really happened to Misty all those years ago. She skillfully navigates the dysfunctional family dynamic in both Alex and Ben’s family the serves a role to the mystery that both heartbreaking and thought-provoking.

At the same time Scully steadily develops the relationship between Alex and Ben, which is appropriate considering when they left things, the two men were only in a brink of their teenage years. Alex and Ben need to work through the years that they have been separated, to untangle what they are meant to each other then and now.

To me, this is a compelling story. It fulfills my (reading) heart’s desire for a strong plot and characterizations — and not simply leaning on sexual content. I did wish the epilogue to be more of a firm happily ever after decorated with sunshine and rainbows.

I have been a fan of Chris Scully since the very beginning — this is definitely her best yet and my favorite so far.

RATING: 5 out of 5

 

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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Back to You
Author: Chris Scully
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance / Mystery
Word Count: 70,500 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 12, 2017