A Sammy Review: Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis #1) by Cari Z.


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I mean, it was one thing to date the guy who’d keyed the principal’s car in high school, but another entirely to get together with someone who was rapidly climbing Panopolis’s Most Wanted list.

Where There's Smoke coverEdward Dinges has always been attracted to the super way of life in Panopolis. It’s a place where the Heroes and Villains meet on a regular basis and the society is as much based on presence as it is the economy. He’d always hoped to meet a hero, but he never dreamed of falling in love with a villain, and one day changes those expectations.

He’s just a guy working at a bank. Except that his boyfriend is a Villain with a thing for bombs and he’s got a Hero who seems to not think that having a boyfriend is a valid reason for the answer “no”. It’s just a matter of time until the world of good, evil, and just plain normal collide.

His eyes were fixed on me, glittering points of light within the matte-gray shadows on his skin. “I’m a bad man.”

“You’re a Villain,” I said. “But that doesn’t make you a bad person.”

So here’s the thing… I loved this! Plain and simple, it was just so much fun that I could hardly sit still from all the giddiness it brought me.

From the very first page (or, well, the dedication actually), I was sucked into this amazing and funky world that Cari Z. created. She took bits of reality and bits of all those fun comic books and movies we’ve all seen and then twisted it into this really fabulous story. In doing so, she was able to both reach deep into this theme and hit some of the topics we all wonder about (like who is the man behind the mask who ever fears) and add in some undeniable humor that again, we all think about (like how completely ridiculous some of the stories behind our favorite heroes and villains are).

She does a beautiful job of mixing characters that we traditionally shrug off as villains and making them real and human. They’re no longer these beings so far off that we can pretend are monsters (well, some of them, because I still think Pinball has some issues), but now they’re people like your brother or sister, your parents, your neighbors.

Maybe it’s not that our Heroes are perfect, maybe it’s that our legal system is broken in the same way they are.

The world felt so tangible to me, especially with the blog posts at the beginning of each chapter, which featured a really sincere and blunt look at the underpinnings of society in Panopolis. They were some of my favorite parts, as they really put things into perspective. I kind of want to know who is behind the blog posts, because I feel like they have an interesting story to tell.

I would’ve loved to see more of the relationship building between Raul and Edward in the beginning, but I was so enthralled by the general plot and world that it didn’t bother me too much. I just wanted to see more of the build up for them. We heard about it in passing, but only got a small glimpse, and I hungered for more. I also think the author could’ve pushed it more at times when it came to how conflicting feelings of love are with knowing what your lover does when he leaves, but that’s just me being picky.

I really hope there’s more than just one sequel, because I could get seriously into this world… like, I could bury myself in it and dance with glee. I’m seriously looking forward to the next one. Great read!

The cover art by L.C. Chase is quite nice. It definitely fits the identity of the Mad Bombardier and helps make it easier to picture him as a villain. My only complaint is the high contrast around the pants, but that’s more of a designers nitpicking than anything else. In general, it’s a lovely cover to pair with a kick-ass story.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing    All Romance (ARe)   Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 88 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 25th 2015)
edition languageEnglish
seriesPanopolis #1



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