An Alisa Audio Review: Model Investigator (Haven Investigations #3) by Lissa Kasey and Brian Hutchison (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

With his lover, Kade, missing, androgynous former model turned private investigator Ollie Petroskovic is ready to kick some ass to bring him home.

Ollie and his ex, rock star Jacob Elias, need to find Kade and free him from the clutches of his manipulative family. But with Ollie suffering from chronic migraines and Jacob unable to bear loud noises, they are hardly the dynamic duo. It takes a lot of sweet talking on the part of Jacob—and patience Ollie doesn’t have—to find Kade. Only Kade’s not whole anymore. The fight for Kade’s heart and mind is far from over.

It’s Ollie’s turn to guide Kade through nightmares, self-doubt, and PTSD. Kade’s memories are scattered, fragmented with possible horrors, and he’s not quite sure what is real. Ollie will have to draw on his investigative skills to clear Kade of the terrible accusations his family has made and help Kade unlock the truth. But in doing so, he ignores his own health, which could have catastrophic consequences for everyone, especially when digging up the past could be lethal for them all.

Oh man, I thought the last book had a bad cliffhanger ending, this one was just as bad which frustrates me even more when I really liked the story.  Needless to say I will be waiting for the next book to come out on audio.

I loved that this started right after the last book and that helped quickly jog my memory from the last book.  For the most part they seemed solid in their connection and even when doubts seemed to surface it wasn’t serious more of the once I figure this out everything will be fine kind of mindset.

This story was told from Ollie’s point of view and man is he a worrier, always having a bad version of thing popping into his head.  I loved how their friends and then Kade knew how to help him to get out of that haze.  Kade was harder to read but it came down to him not wanting to be too emotional in front of Ollie but I think they are able to figure out where they were both coming from.  I was however frustrated that Nathan’s death was once again put on the back burner though it looks like the next book is the last in the series so it should be tied up by the end of that one.

Brian Hutchison did a great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to keep track of the characters and actions in the book through his use of different voices and emotions.

Cover art by Garrett Leigh is great and I love the visual of Kade, though I always pictured someone bigger in my head.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 9hrs 12min
Published February 14, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Haven Investigations #3

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Model Bodyguard (Haven Investigations #2) by Lissa Kasey and Brian Hutchison (Narrator)

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

 

Things are going well for androgynous model Ollie Petroskovic, ex-Marine Kade Alme, and their business, Haven Investigations, until rock star Jacob Elias shows up in need of their services… and trouble follows.

 

Jacob is a playboy with a serious penchant for kink, slaves, and sex toys. He’s also Ollie’s ex—and all that implies. With the media exploiting his personal life, a stalker sending blood-soaked “gifts,” a bumbling security team, and a family he can’t trust as far as he could throw them, Jacob is in desperate need of a bodyguard for his latest tour, and Kade can’t refuse.

 

While Kade deals with new doubts about his partnership with Ollie and struggles with reminders of his war injuries, Jacob’s stalker escalates from blackmail and threats to murder. As Kade and Ollie work to keep Jacob safe and find the culprit behind the attack, a web of family secrets, lies, and abuse slowly emerges, leading up to a final confrontation that they might not walk away from—and that will have lasting repercussions for Kade and his relationship with Ollie.

 

I have to start this off with saying I really really dislike cliffhangers and this book ended with a big one.  Ollie and Kade are still working on figuring out their relationship and throwing Jacob into the mix doesn’t help either of their insecurities.  I’m hoping that in the next book they will get that much more comfortable and confident in their connection.

 

This story was told from Kade’s point of view, which gave a bit of a different perspective from Ollie’s in the last book.  Kade is pretty good at reading people so it makes it easy to understand Ollie right along with him.  However, as with the last book both of them have low self-esteem and spend so much time worrying.  I was wrung out after listening to the first two thirds of the book and had to wait a little bit to finish it.  The big mystery from the first book of Nathan’s death was mostly put on the back burner for this story and I’m sure it will get summed up at some point but I didn’t think that pretty much just ignoring it in this book was the right thing to do either.

 

Brian Hutchison did a good job narrating this story.  I was able to keep track of the characters and actions in the book through his use of different voices and emotions.  I think he portrayed Jacob’s ego and insecurities pretty well.

 

Cover art by Garrett Leigh is nice and follows the pattern of the series.

 

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 9hrs 47min
Published January 4, 2018 (ebook first published October 7, 2016) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Haven Investigations #2

An Ali Release Day Review: Model Exposure (Haven Investigations #4) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
After being rescued by Ollie, Kade continues to suffer the aftermath of his ordeal, both physically and psychologically. Not knowing how else to clear his head, he pours his energy into Ollie—the love of his life—and Haven Investigations, but neither Ollie nor Kade can continue to ignore what they learned from their last case: Ollie’s brother, Nathan, might have betrayed Kade.

As they dig into Ollie’s past, secrets are revealed. Was Nathan’s death a suicide? Were Ollie’s parents much more than they seemed? Is someone out to kill Ollie, or is it Kade’s past coming back to haunt them again?

Amidst questions and uncertainties, one thing is clear: after everything they have been through together, Kade and Ollie have never been more in love and they want to get married. But first, they’ll have to deal with the continued threat of Kade’s past, the emotional wounds Kade fears are drowning him, and the possibility that everything Ollie believed about his family was a lie. A beautiful happily ever after awaits them—as long as they can survive long enough to make it to the altar.
 
This is the fourth book in the Haven Investigations series.  This is a continuation of the story from the third book and this should not be read as a standalone.  This story is told from Kade’s point of view.  He’s having a very hard time with his depression and anxiety which are fall outs from the incidents that happened previously.  
I have mixed feelings about this book.  I really love these two as a couple.  One of my favorite things about them is they’re not a traditional couple or traditional type people.  I always love when authors branch out and give readers something outside the norm.  I also like the fact that they’re pretty co-dependent and make no apologies about it.  Now I personally would never want to be as enmeshed as these two are, but again, I like that it’s different.  It’s actually something that the characters take note of and discuss.  I like when people are bold and unapologetic in their life choices (both is real life and in books).
On the flip side, I’ve not really enjoyed the overall plot in both this book or the last one.  They’ve been really over the top in my opinion and I feel like I have to suspend too much reality to follow along.  I prefer books that are a little more gritty and realistic.
If you’re a fan of the series you will probably enjoy this installment.  A few big relationship things happen between Ollie and Kade and the mystery of  Nathan is finally all wrapped up.  Despite my average feeling about the book as a whole I have to say there were some really touching scenes between these two men.  The date at the beginning was just fantastic.  
These covers are done by Garrett Leigh and I just love them.  They are some of my favorite covers in this genre.  I think they are very attractive and eye catching.  I love the artistry of them.  All the books in the series are complimentary of each other and they stand out.  As soon as you seen one of them you know they are all in the same series.
Book Details:
ebook, 256 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339789
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHaven Investigations #4

An Ali Release Day Review: Model Investigator (Haven Investigations #3) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
With his lover, Kade, missing, androgynous former model turned private investigator Ollie Petroskovic is ready to kick some ass to bring him home.

Ollie and his ex, rock star Jacob Elias, need to find Kade and free him from the clutches of his manipulative family. But with Ollie suffering from chronic migraines and Jacob unable to bear loud noises, they are hardly the dynamic duo. It takes a lot of sweet talking on the part of Jacob, and patience Ollie doesn’t have, to find Kade. Only Kade’s not whole anymore. The fight for Kade’s heart and mind is far from over.

It’s Ollie’s turn to guide Kade through nightmares, self-doubt, and PTSD. Kade’s memories are scattered, fragmented with possible horrors, and he’s not quite sure what is real. Ollie will have to draw on his investigative skills to clear Kade of the terrible accusations his family has made and help Kade unlock the truth. But in doing so, he ignores his own health, which could have catastrophic consequences for everyone, especially when digging up the past could be lethal for them all.
This book picks up a little over a month down the road from when the last book ended.  Kade is still gone and Ollie is doing horribly.  He’s having physical problems from his injuries and he’s barely functioning emotionally. His friends have stepped up and are helping in every way they can but Ollie knows something has to give soon.  As the story goes on they get Kade back but things are still really bad for both men and they have some serious struggles ahead of them.
One of my favorite things about this book was how well Kade and Ollie communicate and how they work through their problems together.  I think this author does a great job of showing people being in a healthy relationship.  They each have some issues but they work together to solve them and they are a true partnership.
I enjoyed the plot for the most part but I found myself a little confused in places in regards to the plot with Kade’s family.  It took a whole lot of suspension of reality to follow it.  There were some big reveals in regards to that and while some plotlines were wrapped up but one major one still to go.  This one ends with a mild cliffhanger (not a big one like last book).
This book does not work as a standalone.  You would need to be caught up on the series to understand what was going on here.  Overall, I enjoyed this and I definitely recommend it to fans of this series.
Cover art: The cover was done by Garrett Leigh.  I have mixed feelings about the cover.  I think it looks great and I love the artistry of it. It also ties in really well with the previous two books.  On the flip side though the model doesn’t like either of the MC’s at all.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 270 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB071WRLK4X
Series Haven Investigations #3

An Ali Review: An Arresting Ride (Survivors Find Love #2) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Graham Church began career as a police officer with a case so gruesome it sent many officers into early retirement. That day he helped save the lives of children and began a long crusade of protecting the residents of Friday Harbor from the worst of humanity. But brutal car accidents and the discovery of a dog fighting ring have taken their toll on Graham. Returning to an over-crowded apartment where his room is a closet, and working sixteen-hour shifts, have left him emotionally exhausted and in need of a quiet place to call home.

Jason Wullcot is a horse breeder and a mystery to the island he lives on, but is in need of a roommate for human contact. His therapist recommends Graham Church, who also happens to have a “white knight” syndrome. When Graham discovers his new roommate was one of the children he helped save twelve-years prior, Graham’s need to protect and save kicks into high gear. Only Jason has no interest in being saved. In fact, Graham realizes that Jason may not be the one in need of saving at all, but maybe, just maybe they can fill the broken pieces of each other.
I went into this book with a bit of trepidation.  I’m getting tired of the “damaged” MC who gets “fixed” by the love of a good man/woman.  I liked the first book in the series though and the blurb sounded good so I gave it a try.  I’m so glad I did.  It didn’t at all head down the road I thought it was going to.  In fact, in made me stop and think about my preconceived ideas about people.  I think I opened my mind some just as Graham’s character did.
The writing was really good and the story engaged me right from the beginning.  I liked both of the MC’s (although it took me a bit longer to warm up to Jason) and I thought the side characters really added to the plot.  If you’ve read book one you will see that Charlie and Bastian play an important role in this story.  That being said, this book works fine as a stand alone.  The romance was a lovely slow burn and I felt like it was really realistic.  The heat factor is there but not until later in the book.
I’ve read a few books by this author and have enjoyed them all but this has jumped to the top of my list.  It is definitely my favorite work by her.  This is a book I would certainly recommend.
Cover:  I like this cover a lot.  Artistically I think it is lovely and catches your eye.  It also reflects the plot and characters really well.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 234 pages
Published March 1st 2017 by Self-Published
ASINB01NBY8PNW
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSurvivors Find Love #2

An Ali Review: Painting with Fire (Survivors Find Love #1) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
painting-with-fire-by-lissa-kaseyCharlie “Wood Chuck” Fox knows his best friend and fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row had a major family break up in her past. Charlie has adopted her into his heart and into his huge family and when Jessie gets word her mother has passed away, Charlie fears returning home is going to tear her up.
Bastian Hart’s choice of career as a doll painter has put him at odds with his family. He’s made a sanctuary for himself on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor, an hour away from his family. He welcomes his aunt Jessie and her friend Charlie into his house as they all prepare for the upcoming funeral. Charlie and Bastian discover a spark of smoldering fire igniting between them, but Charlie is unwilling to push and Bastian hesitant to trust. 

 They will have to wade through pain, hate, and fear to find their future together.
This was a lovely story about two unlikely men falling in love.  When Charlie and Jessie go back to her home town they end up stating with Bastian.  Bastian is younger and is a doll maker for a living.  He has had an abusive past with his family and he’s very lonely and fragile.  The two men are immediately attracted to each other and their relationship is a slow bloom kind of thing.  Bastian has some emotional issues he needs to work through and Charlie has the patience to take the time to work through them with him.  I enjoyed watching these two fall in love and I liked them as a couple.
I found Bastian’s job really interesting and something I’ve never read in a romance story before.  I felt the author did a good job showing us what this profession entails and also uses it to show us facets of Bastien’s personality.  I also felt the atmosphere was set well.  It was easy to image the town and Bastian’s home.  
Overall I really enjoyed this.  The main plot was a classic hurt/comfort trope but the author added in enough different things (such as Bastian’s job) to make it feel like a unique story.  This is a story I would recommend and I will be looking forward to more books in this series.
 The cover art is nice enough but does not really stand out to me.  
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Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 173 pages
Published December 2nd 2016
ASIN B01MDPH0X0
Edition Language
English Series Survivors Find Love #1

Lissa Kasey’s Special Guest Blog: The World’s An Island and her release ‘Painting with Fire (Survivors Find Love #1)

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Painting with Fire (Survivors Find Love #1) by Lissa Kasey

Purchase It Here

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The World’s an Island by Lissa Kasey

In August my family erupted. I was working on Model Investigator, and fighting to finish it through depression and outrage. When it was done I decided I needed something a little cathartic. I wanted to write a story that laid out some of my family history but had a positive ending. It would be my first ever contemporary romance. However, like a lot of my stories, I wanted to create a separate space just for these characters. Instead of putting them on another planet or an alternate world, I decided to put them on a reclusive island I hadn’t known existed until I inquired of a friend for ideas—the San Juan islands in Washington.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a Midwesterner that I didn’t know these islands existed. I’ve never been to that corner of the country, so I was a little surprised by the happy little secret of these islands filled with lavender, alpacas, and state parks. Of course they are islands for the rich now as home prices are in the millions. But I thought, why not? Why not create a little community in the real world for my survivors to live, heal, and find love?

After some research, I decided on Friday Harbor as my location. This appears to be one of the largest and easiest to access islands of the bunch. There’s a town with a hospital, an airport, and a huge state park overlooking the Olympic Mountains. There’s also an alpaca farm and fields of lavender.

There is a state ferry that travels back and forth all day long from the mainland to the islands. Research included looking at traffic cams, searching real estate sites, reviewing maps, and checking out the websites for the island, the fire fighters and police departments of the island, and the farms. Here’s the main website for Friday Harbor: http://www.fridayharbor.com/.

It’s a popular place to get married, spend the day exploring the island, or even summer months hiking in the state park. Sadly, I have not yet been to the island. Though I do plan a trip in the near future.

What I found most appealing about these islands other than being mostly unknown, is that instead of being a tropical getaway for people who want to lay on beaches and drink alcohol, it seems to be a place of quiet exploration, and a slow down of the fast pace we often find ourselves in when on vacation or even just living life. This, to me, felt like the perfect place for my characters to heal.

What would be your ideal place to travel? Do you like to rush around on vacation or just relax? Have you ever been to a secret hideaway like this? Some place unknown to the average individual, maybe even underrated, but beautiful?

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About Painting with Fire

Charlie “Wood Chuck” Fox knows his best friend and fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row had a major family break up in her past. Charlie has adopted her into his heart and into his huge family and when Jessie gets word her mother has passed away, Charlie fears returning home is going to tear her up.

Bastian Hart’s choice of career as a doll painter has put him at odds with his family. He’s made a sanctuary for himself on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor, an hour away from his family. He welcomes his aunt Jessie and her friend Charlie into his house as they all prepare for the upcoming funeral. Charlie and Bastian discover a spark of smoldering fire igniting between them, but Charlie is unwilling to push and Bastian hesitant to trust.

They will have to wade through pain, hate, and fear to find their future together.

Excerpt

Bastian was waiting for him. He was dressed in fitted blue jeans and a thick zip up sweater. His shoes were heavy black leather. Charlie nodded. “Ready?”

“Yes,” Bastian said. “And no. I’m terrified. I’ve never been on a motorcycle before.”

Charlie led him out to the bike, retrieved the helmets from the lockbox in the back of the truck and helped Bastian put on his. He left the visor up and put on his own. “Once I’m on, I want you to swing your legs around it up behind me. Close. Especially since this is your first ride. Your feet go here.” He motioned to the foot rest. “The shield keeps most of the bugs from splattering on us, but if we go really fast you’ll need to wash your clothes when we’re done.”

Bastian’s eyes widened. Charlie grinned since he was teasing, flicked his visor down and swung onto the bike. Bastian hesitated for a moment, like he wasn’t sure he could do it. Then he carefully climbed on behind Charlie. Charlie steadied the bike and turned it on, giving it a minute for the blue tooth to link up. Then he glanced back to see Bastian nervously watching his feet.

“Slide forward,” Charlie told him. “Put your arms around my waist. I won’t let you fall. We’ll start slow, I promise.”

Bastian slid forward. He carefully wrapped his arms around Charlie’s waist, but his grip was loose. Charlie kicked the bike up, it rolled a few feet, and suddenly Bastian was holding on for dear life. Charlie grinned as he eased them down Bastian’s drive, out the gate, and to the main road, keeping their speed just under thirty miles an hour.

Once they hit the long stretch of lavender fields, Charlie pushed the speed up to fifty. Still below the limit, but enough to have Bastian clinging to him and laughing with excitement and joy. Charlie loved the sound. He had to admit he was attracted to Bastian. Not so much how he looked, though he was adorable, but his amazing heart and endurance. Charlie hoped they could at least become friends. As a man who spent most of his life in the field, he didn’t have enough of those outside the job.

Charlie eased the bike down so they could turn around. The sky was darkening.

“There’s a side road not far up that takes us along the coast,” Bastian said.

“Yeah? Let me know where it is and we’ll take a ride that way.”

“Okay.” Bastian rested his head against Charlie’s shoulder. Once they reached the turn off, Charlie turned on the side road, happy it was paved and in good condition. It wasn’t a long road, but the view was spectacular. Charlie pulled over into a small dirt overlook and took off his helmet. The sun was setting and it was spectacular.

“Wow,” Charlie breathed.

Bastian took off his helmet too. “Nothing else matches the colors. Some say it’s the pollen from the lavender that makes sunsets and rises here so colorful. Others say it’s the mix of cold air from the mountains and the warmth of the water.” He didn’t let go of Charlie; his body heat warmed Charlie. They watched in silence as the sun set. Final traces of the sun’s glow vanishing into a dark blue night. Stars appeared in the thousands.

“No wonder you create such beautiful things with this inspiring view to fuel your muse,” Charlie remarked.

Author Bio:

Lissa Kasey is more than just romance. She specializes in depth characters, detailed world building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to your book reader. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTGA spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.

A Lila Release Day Review: Model Bodyguard (Haven Investigations #2) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
model-bodyguard-by-lissa-kaseyThings are going well for androgynous model Ollie Petroskovic, ex-Marine Kade Alme, and their business, Haven Investigations, until rock star Jacob Elias shows up in need of their services… and trouble follows.

Jacob is a playboy with a serious penchant for kink, slaves, and sex toys. He’s also Ollie’s ex—and all that implies. With the media exploiting his personal life, a stalker sending blood-soaked “gifts,” a bumbling security team, and a family he can’t trust as far as he could throw them, Jacob is in desperate need of a bodyguard for his latest tour, and Kade can’t refuse.

While Kade deals with new doubts about his partnership with Ollie and struggles with reminders of his war injuries, Jacob’s stalker escalates from blackmail and threats to murder. As Kade and Ollie work to keep Jacob safe and find the culprit behind the attack, a web of family secrets, lies, and abuse slowly emerges, leading up to a final confrontation that they might not walk away from—and that will have lasting repercussions for Kade and his relationship with Ollie.
This is the second book in this series and I happened to like this one better than the first.  The author changed it up a bit by having this book be from Kade’s point of view rather than Ollie’s and I think that worked out really well.  I liked Kade as the narrator a great deal.  He is a good guy and it was good to see his perception of things.  I actually felt there was more depth to Ollie’s character in seeing him through Kade’s eyes.  
As the blurb states the guys get involved in a case surrounding Ollie’s ex.  A lot of things happen in this story and it is very fast paced and entertaining.  I actually found myself kind of liking Jacob too by the end of the book.  The guy’s relationship is solid and they are doing really well together.  Most of the issues revolve around Ollie trying to get himself back to a good place physically and mentally after all he’s been through since Nathan’s death.  There are times when Kade’s behavior towards Ollie is almost like parenting and that’s something I’m not a big fan of but it wasn’t a big enough issue to cause me to dislike the plot.
This book ends in a huge cliffhanger.  Way bigger than the cliffhanger in book one.  If there was any complaint I had about the book it would be that the cliffhanger from book one is not touched on at all in this book.  In fact it’s barely mentioned.  That seemed odd to me.  It seemed like they should at least be discussing it from time to time.
Overall I really enjoyed this book.  These two are an interesting couple and I enjoy the cases they end up working.  This could be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading these books in order to get the most enjoyment out of the relationship dynamics.
Cover artist Garrett Leigh:  I like this cover a lot.  I think it looks great and really conveys the feeling of the story.
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Book Details:
ebook, 270 pages
Expected publication: October 7th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777840 (ISBN13: 9781634777841)
Edition LanguageEnglishSeriesHaven Investigations #2

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Model Citizen (Haven Investigations #1) by Lissa Kasey and Mike Pohlable (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

model-citizen-audiobookOliver “Ollie” Petroskovic’s life as an international supermodel was heading in the right direction. He worked part-time for his brother at his detective agency—Petroskovic Haven Investigations—and had just bought his dream house. But all that changed when he found his brother dead, a victim of PTSD-induced suicide.

 

Almost a year later, Ollie is trying to keep his brother’s business afloat, but can’t get his PI license. Then his brother’s best friend, Kade Alme, shows up, fresh from the battlefield after a close brush with death. Kade is looking for a new life, in more ways than one, and with PI license in hand, he’s exactly what Ollie needs to keep PHI running.

 

When one of Ollie’s childhood friends gets in trouble, Ollie feels he has to help. Kade insists on investigating if only to keep Ollie safe. Neither realizes the danger they’re in as someone tries to tear them apart before they can find solid ground together.

 

This was an interesting story.  Ollie is determined to keep going after his brother’s death no matter what it takes, but he won’t let anyone think less of him for how he dresses and acts.  When Kade shows up Ollie expects to put him in the same box as everyone else, but Kade’s actions and word surprise him.

 

This story is told from Ollie’s point of view.  You can see how broken he feels no matter the face he shows the world.  You can also see Kade’s frustration and caring through Ollie’s eyes.  The thing in the story I had the hardest time with is how confident Ollie is in himself and appearance he has a low self esteem, but Kade is determined for Ollie to see he is worth anything.  I hope to read the next book in the series when it comes out.

 

Mike Pohlable did a nice job narrating this story.  The use of different voices for the characters helped me keep track of the story.  However, his voice has a very whiny quality to it and I found myself wincing and it was hard to get through.

 

Cover art by Garrett Leigh is nice and catches your eye.

 

Sales Links

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 7hrs 53min
Published July 26, 2016 (ebook first published June 22, 2015)
Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: Candy Land (Hidden Gem #3) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5       ★★★★★

candyland_final02Cameron “Candy” Michelson Jr. doesn’t have time for distractions. He’s too busy restructuring the red-light district into an adult playland for City M and running the Hidden Gem. But when his companion, Avery “Ivy” Laurent, grows closer to Jack, an investigator for the Institute of Scientific Study, Candy can’t hide his jealousy. Nor his own interest in Jack.

Ivy is crazy about Jack, but he’s also in love with Candy. Ideally, Ivy longs for all three of them to be together, but between Jack’s nonexistent libido and Candy’s supercharged needs, Ivy isn’t sure how to make it work.

When Jack gets called in to help the City M police department investigate a series of violently murdered companions, both Candy and Ivy brace for trouble. But nothing prepares them for Candy becoming the prime suspect.

In a future landscape of corrupt government officials, brutal BDSM crimes, and a host of dark creatures, Candy, Ivy, and Jack must work together to find the killer, save themselves—and learn how to trust each other.

The Hidden Gem stories by Lissa Kasey captivated me from the very beginning with her horrifying vision of a world in chemical ruin, its environs toxic and governments reduced down to geographical areas, even cities where populations clustered, clinging to life such as it was.  Throughout the populations were AMs, mutants both forced by experimentation and born into their genetic forms naturally by evolution…but all hidden from the citizens due to fear.

In each story, the title refers to a pleasure place.  The Hidden Gem, is the top “house” in City M, and Misaki “Aki” Itou is its highest paid  and most sought after “companion”. He will find love with detective Shane McNaughton, and their story sets in motion all the action and relationship dynamics to follow.  Its a 5 star magnificent ride and I couldn’t figure out how Kasey would top it. But of course, she did with Cardinal Sins (Hidden Gem, #2). Again its the name of a house of pleasure and gambling that the owner of the Hidden Gem finds, renovates and reopens for an unimaginable reason…its amazing tunnels of fish tanks that thread through its halls.  Here its the enigmatic Paris Hansworth, former “companion” turned senator and all powerful man who ends up finding the love of his life, Rain,  in the most unexpected place.  Each story gives a clue through the beautiful covers of Shobana Appavu. Yes, its in the blurb but its doesn’t prepare you for the power of the finding and the story itself.

Again, each book is building towards something more but I had no idea how strongly the author was preparing us for the final story in the trilogy until I came to Candy Land.  If I could give a book more than 5 stars I certainly would do so here.

Candy Land picks up the story almost immediately from Cardinal Sins and the three characters, one recently introduced and two we’ve come to know and love in all the other stories.  They all seem to be headed for something interesting as far as a matchup together, a triad, if they can communicate and overcome the enormous physical demons they have and plot hurdles ahead of them.  Cameron “Candy” Michelson Jr we met in the first book as the best friend of Aki and as high a paid companion as Aki was.  Now Candy is running Hidden Gem, has matured and is having trouble finding his way in staying Candy and the boss.   Avery “Ivy” Laurent,a psi paid companion at the Hidden Gem, Candy’s love interest is also interested in Frank, a AM who was partnered with Shane back when they were both cops.  Yes, circles upon circles of relationship dynamics and it all works.  Its important because these Venn diagram relationships are needed when the AM murders and explosive government politics start to intrude upon City M and their lives to the point of horrifying consequences to all.

One of the things I most admired about this story was Kasey’s ability to balance the need to bring the characters maturity along together and apart (especially Candy and Frank) while keep the suspense and deep intrigue mounting on the larger plot level.  Candy had to come to understand and accept Frank’s asexuality if their triad was to work, Frank also had to understand Candy’s need for dominance and Ivy’s need for them both.  It was a delicate give and take between all three and it works so beautifully here.  We get their vulnerability, their strengths, their humor and their pain…in short, we get them as whole viable people. I loved them all and together even better.  That’s saying a lot as threesomes usually aren’t my thing.  And this one is outstanding.

Even better?  The plot!   That nail biting, hold on to your seats because you won’t believe what’s coming next plot.  I ended up reading whole pages twice because they were so damn good.  Had the popcorn going, just hunched over the action, the drama, and the sequences that unfolded on the Kindle before me.  It had it all, angst, parts that had me weeping in anger, sadness and then unbelievable joy.  Yep, this book is over the moon.

When I got to  the end, I was so thrilled, I was stunned with joy.  It was everything I had wanted for each and every character.  How many times do you say that in a story?  Or a trilogy?  That you were completely satisfied with how everything worked out?  Now would I be happy if Lissa Kasey goes back and give Ono his own HEA?  You bet.  I think he deserves it after all this.  And then there’s that little matter of the boat people.  But the main characters?  Happy, happy, happy.

So do I recommend this book?  Silly question.  Of course I do.  All of them to be precise.  And Lissa Kasey too.  I will be picking them all back up and reading them in a row now that I have the trilogy complete to see what I may have missed.  Do yourself a favor, grab them all up, do it too.  Make yourself some popcorn while you’re at it.  You will be there for a wonderful fantasy ride!

Cover art by  Shobana Appavu is as outstanding as the book.  Each cover a clue as to the major element inside.

Sales Links:  Amazon |Dreamspinner PressAReBarnes & Noble

Book Details:

ebook, 274 pages
Published April 25th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634771672 (ISBN13: 9781634771672)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Trilogy: Hidden Gem

hiddengem_final03Cardinal Sins covercandyland_final02