Take a cauldron full of magic, add a pinch of humor, a dash of snark and a huge dollop of m/m goodness, and what do you get? Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. This all-new collection is packed with arcane action and intrigue, and every story will whisk you away to a fantastical world where the hero finds his prince and the paranormal investigator always gets his man.
Overall Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Tales of magic in some of its many forms with, according to the intro, a theme of sympathetic monsters. Well, hell, doesn’t that play right into my love for a good anti-hero! Plus when I saw the lineup of authors on this one, my mouth just about fell open. What a line up! I’m so on board to read this one. Please note that a few of the stories hook into a series and doubtless you will enjoy them those few more if you’re familiar with the series. One of them was a series I’d read, but the other, unfortunately, I was not at all familiar with as it’s a new to me author. Therefore, I discussed that one but did not rate it as I didn’t feel I had the background to do it justice.
The stories are listed in the order in which they appear in the anthology rather than by rating.
Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford – 3.5 stars
Half-fae Detective Roku MacCormick works Arcane Crimes in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He’s cleared for duty after shooting his last partner and back on the job with a new case and a new partner. Trent Leonard, isn’t at all what he’d expected.
I own some books by this author that I’ve not gotten around to reading, but after this I definitely will soon. Because she can tear up the page.
Rich with description and detail, and since I’ve actually lived in San Francisco for a while, that was pretty cool for me. It starts with a rip-roaring chase scene through the streets of Chinatown complete with dragons and mermen, but despite the action I found the story hard to sink into. I felt lost, like I’d been thrown into the middle of an action movie with nothing to hold on to or maybe like jumping into part two of a series when I’d missed the beginning–it was jarring and confusing. Chapter two did clear up a lot of things and bring me more smoothly into the world and story, but the overall fast pace continued and it was hard for me to connect with the characters until closer to the end. That said, the imagery, imagination and details are amazing and vibrant. And the sex was smoking. If you like a kick ass story that goes from zero to sixty in five seconds flat with a flaming hot sex chaser, this story is for you!
Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale – 3.75 stars
The wizard Jack Swift became a national hero when he killed a tyrant and won the revolution. They even made movies about him! But now it seems like someone in the new government wants him dead.
Well-written, superb imagery. So wizards aren’t well accepted; they’re mostly considered trouble. And gay men are scorned as well. That, and living with his past, makes life hard for Jack despite his hero status.
First few chapters, the author did three things. One: The beginning of this story was slow to pull me in—until suddenly it grabbed me by the throat. Two: I didn’t like Jack much—and then it was made vividly clear that neither did he. Three: In one paragraph, one sentence really, I suddenly hated Peter with a fiery passion that put me completely in Jack’s corner yelling, “Kill the bastard, Jack. Kill him NOW!” Except that would be real hard considering… ah, well… no spoilers.
There’s a romance here, but it’s neither sexy nor sweet. Mostly this story is an eloquent, twisted tale of betrayal and revenge.
A Queer Trade by KJ Charles – 4 stars
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead and some of the papers he’d written spells upon sold. Some of those spells might mean death so he sets out to get them back. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin, but can the two find the papers and prevent a disaster?
Well-written with a beginning that pulled me into it quickly. I enjoyed that it was written from both character’s POV as it gave me a connection to them both. Two likable main characters, but Ned especially for sticking by Crispin as he did. There was chemistry and some lovely hot, sexy bits between them. Nice plot that picked up speed as it went along with a satisfying resolution.
However, I should mention that this story did have parts that rather grossed me out. So warning, possible high ICK factor here, depending on what pushes your ick buttons, of course. *shudder*
Magically Delicious by Nicole Kimberling – 4 stars
Attacks against NIAD agents aren’t Keith Curry’s department–until his transmogrified goblin boyfriend, Gunther, is the target. Keith begins working the case even though that means pissing off powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, and braving dinner with goblin parents.
This one was so much fun. Mages, goblins, leprechauns, and pixies, oh my! The beginning just sucked me in immediately. Such interesting characters that I wanted to know all about them. Love the mage pistol and well, heck, this was just a super imaginative story. I figured out where the pixie dust had come from long before it came out, but it was still a fun ride getting to the bottom of exactly why and how. Gunther’s goblin family were great fun. The pixies and leprechauns (esp. Carrot Beard) were hilarious. But most of all, I adored Gunther the transmogrified goblin and would love to read more about him and Keith’s relationship, how they came to be together and definitely more in depth sexy bits please.
Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns by Jordan Castillo Price – 3.75 stars
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. Victor and Jacob are on their way to a Halloween party, when Victor remembers something from his past. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of the old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghost hunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.
Within the bowls of an old theatre, the guys encounter far more than just a ghost clown needing to cross over. As always between these two, any excuse for a sexy encounter is taken and the heat level between them is as hot as ever.
Well-written with ghost exhibitionism, glitter and goo, painted pumpkins and lots of spooky imagery. I’ve always found clowns and fun houses to be extremely creepy, but I do love this series. Victor and Jake are so darn hot together—wherever they are.
The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L. Hawk – 5 stars
Dominic Kopecky is a Metropolitan Witch Police fanboy who failed the magic aptitude tests when he was young. He’d dreamed of working at MWP with witches and their familiars who take the form of birds, toads, and cats. But his lack of magic led him to become the next best thing—a hexman who does the grunt work of using ink, paper and gemstones to create spells that witches later activate with their magic. But hexes were an exact science and a badly done one could turn very deadly when activated.
When the beautiful unbonded crow familiar, Rook, seeks Dominic’s help investigating murder by hex Dominic isn’t sure why. He’s not a witch, the case has already been closed, and someone seems willing to kill to keep it that way.
I loved this one right from the start. Well-written, well-paced, intriguing characters, and a very unusual world set up. I thought it was funny that the familiar was a crow and Dominic’s last name was KoPECKy. Made me laugh. As did some of lines like ‘keep your beak out of it’ and a bunch of others. A lovely sweet romance, some nice heat, and a fun story. Overall, it just hit all the right notes for me.
The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet – 5 stars
Riley Murrough is a barista cleaning up after a day’s work when he’s suddenly being chased by demons, and rescued by tigers, one of which transforms into a huge man covered in tribal tattoos. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s told that he bears the mark of a shapeshifter and whisked off to a magical realm.
Well-written story told from both Riley’s and Khalon’s POV, this story started off a bit confusing for me but very soon that changed and it sucked me in. At first witty, snarky fun with some really interesting side characters, but then things begin to shift. Within a chapter, there was a sweet romance that made me swoon and events that had me in tears and I completely loved Khalon and Riley. I really want to read more about this world and especially about the side characters Toka and Rayner as well. Loved those guys, too. The way Khalon and Rayner (best friends) bickered rocked. And the ending line was perfect Riley!
This was my first read by this author and will definitely not be my last, I really enjoyed her writing style.
One Hex Too Many by Lou Harper – 4.25 stars
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent occult crimes at the Extramundane Crimes Division. Most of his fellow officers consider him cursed because of how many partners he’s lost and refuse to partner with him. Detective Hugh Fox is a rookie, eager to partner up and prove himself. However, Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo and not used to trusting a partner with his life. Not helped when one of the first things out of Fox’s mouth is to point out to Mulligan that he’s not gay.
Communicating via the bathroom mirror. Rogue hacker wizards=wackers (love that). A flamboyant blond desk clerk who can change sex at will uses glamour and charm spells on everyone in the force regularly as exposure training. All that in the first few pages let know right away that this was going to be a fun ride.
The duo is assigned to track a killer using dark magic—an offense at the top of the list of Prohibited Practices. Despite having gotten off to a rough start, I liked how Mulligan treated Fox from the get go. He seemed such a natural at training for a guy who hadn’t wanted a partner. Considerate of not making him look bad by correcting in front of others even when he was a trainee for instance. Early on a semi-drunken kiss motivated by a big red bed after the two of them had sung some off-note Karaoke made things a bit awkward—and yeah, that’s the kind of fun that ensues. The pace of their relationship development is fairly slow, which I liked, but I wanted to see/feel more heat. I enjoyed this new to me author’s writing style, quick paced, witty and fun, but with close attention to details of world building as well as the mystery elements. I would love a story about Leslie.
Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom by Andrea Speed
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?
A new to me author and I’m not familiar with this series, so right off that put me at a bit of a disadvantage going into this. Overall well-written story, but I was rather lost some of the time and for that reason, I am not going to assign this story an individual star rating. Honestly this story squicked me out, including how Josh described and thought about things—I’m pretty sure this had to do with my total lack of background reference on him to go on, but I have to be honest and say that Josh and Doug didn’t appeal to me. The Medusa bracelet was cool. I think fans of this series will enjoy this well-written quirky story. It just wasn’t for me.
The Trouble With Hexes by Astrid Amara – 5 stars
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.
Wow, this one grabbed me by the throat. With a death grip. Tim broke up with Vincent, a tattoo artist, six months ago because he didn’t believe in the mumbo jumbo he’d started working with in his spare time and couldn’t stomach the danger it put him in. Conversely, Vincent made more effort to hide what he was doing than to explain and show it to Tim right up until the blow up at the end.
A few months later, Tim began to sicken and when doctors found no cure he had to face the truth he’d sensed all along… he’d been hexed. He shows up on Vincent’s doorstep a mere shadow of the man he’d been, suddenly having no choice but to believe in what he’d scoffed at. But even if Vincent wants to help him, it turns out that breaking a withering hex is no easy matter.
The writing in this last and lengthiest story is excellent as is the pacing. The characters are well-drawn and sucked me right into their life and world. Plenty of heat, some “aww” moments, and some parts that made me teary. And even a sweet little dog. What more could I want? My favorite of this anthology—for me, an excellent example of saving the best for last.
Cover is both hot and intriguing, it also most definitely says paranormal to me and made me want to check this book out upon first sight.
Sales Links: JCP Books | Amazon | Buy It Here
Expected publication: August 25th 2015 by JCP Books LLC