A MelanieM Pre-release Review: Jacked Cat Jive (The Kai Gracen #3) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Stalker Kai Gracen knew his human upbringing would eventually clash with his elfin heritage, but not so soon. Between Ryder, a pain-in-his-neck Sidhe Lord coaxing him to join San Diego’s Southern Rise Court, and picking up bounties for SoCalGov, he has more than enough to deal with. With his loyalties divided between the humans who raised him and the Sidhe Lord he’s befriended and sworn to protect, Kai finds himself standing at a crossroads.

When a friend begs Kai to rescue a small group of elfin refugees fleeing the Dusk Court, he’s pulled into a dangerous mission with Ryder through San Diego’s understreets and the wilderness beyond. Things go from bad to downright treacherous when Kerrick, Ryder’s cousin, insists on joining them, staking a claim on Southern Rise and Kai.

Burdened by his painful past, Kai must stand with Ryder against Kerrick while facing down the very Court he fears and loathes. Dying while on a run is expected for a Stalker, but Kai wonders if embracing his elfin blood also means losing his heart, soul, and humanity along the way.

In a series that by turns has been dark, gritty, wondrous, and wild in the previous stories, Jacked Cat Jive has me gobsmacked with it’s , dare I say it, jacked up gloriously layered plot,  the multiple story threads running and twisting and turning each pulling your attention this way and that, while the author carefully weaves a vivid complicated tapestry that will pull them all back together into a stunning whole.

It’s a stunning series, grounded in a warped universe where dragons fly over cracked highways, elven palaces grow themselves, and the peace between humans and non is tentative at best in a world where neither quite understands the new laws of nature and reality can buckle along with the ground.

If someone would ask me what are my favorite elements, I couldn’t tell them, because there are far too many.  From the world building to the characters and the weirdly complicated, often twisted relationships.  This is a harsh landscape, not only of land but of the mind and soul.  And Rhys Ford gives us the same tortured, determined, and incredibly real beings that now inhabit it.

Kai Gracen has undergone many changes since , the first story in the series, Black Dog Blues.  He’s grown, learned more about his past, accepted responsibilities ,j and given much thought as to what his genetic pool makes him as a person.  It’s a journey of self that continues, along with his relationship with Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court (Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen #2).  Talk about your slow burn!  They haven’t even kissed yet!  And it’s book three!

This story is so crammed full of high adventure, suspense, breathtaking hijinks and political manipulations of all sorts along with the just ol pull at your heart emotions that this author never forgets is needed as the heart that holds it all together.  It’s the perfect combination of them all and I couldn’t stop reading once I started, I think I ended somewhere around 3 am.

We are introduced to new characters even as we brace to let old ones go. Ford breaks our hearts even as she prepares us for further attachments and excitement to come.  Really this is my favorite story in the series yet.  And that is saying something.  Because this series is already full of favorites.

The writing is tight and flows like a fast moving river.  The characters are both real and fantastical, flawed and incredibly moving.   And the universe building, which continues to evolve, is absolutely stunning.

If you love urban fantasy, here is a series for you.  But they are not standalone stories but should be read in the order they are written.    Already I’m primed for the next in the series.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Kai, Ryder, and everyone they care for.

I highly recommend this and all the stories listed below.  Stay tuned

Cover Artist: Chris McGrath. I like the cover, Bright, colorful although not quite as edgy nor my idea of Kai.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 253 pages
Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by DSP Publications
ASIN B07L8LZSLK
Edition Language English
Series Kai Gracen #3

Mad Lizard Bites(.05)

Black Dog Blues

Mad Lizard Mambo

Jacked Cat Jive

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tutus and Tinsel (Half Moon Bay #2.5) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4.6 stars out of 5

Zig Reid-Harris has everything an eleven-year-old girl could ever want: a great home, two fantastic fathers named Deacon Reid and Lang Harris, and all the books she could possible read.

When a school assignment about holiday traditions unexpectedly broadsides her, she discovers burying the past isn’t as easy as it looks, and the stark reality of her life before her adoption sinks in. Ashamed of the bleakness and poverty she came from, Zig struggles with the assignment until an epiphany strikes the whole family—it’s time to start their own traditions.

Zig and her fathers plunge into the insanity of holiday joy, exploring everything the season has to offer and learning how precious family truly is along the way.

The theme of this story, making new family traditions at the holidays, comes about through a fairly typical homework assignment, one I would  imagine needs revisiting in RL schools just as it does here in Tutus and Tinsel (Half Moon Bay #2.5) by Rhys Ford.  Given the complexities these days in what constitutes a modern “family” and how that family is constructed, I would think that (hopefully) teachers at every level are becoming sensitive to handing out a “simple” homework paper on  family’s holiday traditions.

Ford takes our own memories of such an homework papers and perhaps our family traditions and runs it smack up against a small powerhouse of a character called Zig to devastating results.  Zig has no past history of “adorable Christmas traditions” having barely survived her childhood to find her uncle.  Here that lack comes roaring home and it’s up to her fathers to help her find and create new traditions for them all.

This story roils with emotions.  Rhys Ford takes us back into the past, broken shards of parental abuse and neglect that still stab at both Zig and Deacon, and Lang’s there to love and hold both close.  I loved seeing all the other characters as well pull together to try different crafts, “trying on” traditions to make their own  as a family.  This story is excellently written, tightly constructed as I  have come to expect from this author, and flows beautifully, full of emotion and heart.

Tutus and Tinsel explores what it means to be a family again at Christmas and shines a light on how exactly something becomes a family tradition in the first place.  It’s heartwarming, suffused with the holiday  spirit and love.  I found it perfect holiday reading.

It is, however, not a standalone story.  So treat yourself, if you are not already familiar with the series, to the preceding stories.  You will love them!

Cover art:   Reece Notley.  Love the cover because it captures Tig perfectly with her tutu.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 95 pages
Expected publication: December 21st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644051511
Edition Language English
Series Half Moon Bay #2.5

Fish Stick Fridays

Hanging The Stars

Tutus and Tinsel

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Cops and Comix (Murder and Mayhem) by Rhys Ford

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

 

It’s all fun and games until someone leaves a dead body on the floor.

Life for comic book store owner Alex Martin usually runs to the mundane. Sure, he has a regular influx of geeks and freaks, but for the most part, it’s a familiar weird. That all changes when he opens up Planet X Comics one morning and finds a corpse in the middle of his shop.

When Detective James Castillo is called in to investigate, Alex is torn between wanting to climb the man like a tree and giving him a wide berth. Luckily for Alex, the handsome detective is just as interested in him—as a suspect in the murder.

I love Rhys Ford’s Murder and Mayhem series about former cat burglar Rook Stevens and Detective Dante Montoya.  In that series, one of Rook’s cousin’s and the only member of Rook’s family, outside his grandfather, he is close to, is a man  called Alex.  He and his boyfriend, a detective, not only get mentioned but get pulled into a number of scenes.  Alex just had a way of grabbing your attention and a piece of your heart.

So I was thrilled to see a short story about how Alex met his boyfriend, Detective James Castillo.  I was almost certain Rook played a part in it.  Color me shocked he was innocent….

At 38 pages, this is just cute glimpse into Alex’s life, his Planet X Comics store, and the tale of how he met James Castillo.  It has all the hallmarks of the other stories, including the same quirky, believable characters, wild situations only Alex (or a Rook) could find himself in, and a Detective there to help him (them) out of it.  I only wish for more pages and a longer resolution.  As always with this group, more is advisable!

This is a lovely, cute addendum to the main series.  I certainly enjoyed it.  Any fan of the series and cast of characters will too.  I definitely recommend it.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  Cover works great for the story and series.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, Second Edition, 38 pages
Expected publication: November 16th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781644051528
Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is the second book in a series about five men who have forged a family and own a tattoo business. I would recommend reading these in order. Mace, a firefighter, has made himself Bear’s right hand man in helping raise the family, but it’s time he got some help, whether he asks for it or not.

We start by seeing 10 year old Mason, abandoned and locked in a closet by his father, being rescued by a firefighter. We understand why Mace becomes a firefighter, and why he always checks the closets while on the job and our hearts are already broken. It’s that crack that allows Rob, a tattoo artist at 415 Ink, to see a part of the real Mace. Being bossy, a tad controlling, and concentrating on the brothers’ personal lives is a way to keep the wolves at bay and maybe prove he deserves to be in this family. He still seems unsure, unable to ask for what he needs–afraid of what the answer will be. It’s ok though, because his brothers know and they have his back.

Rob’s best friend is Lilith, but we don’t get to see a lot of her. As with the first book, the tattoos are lovingly described. I can’t help but feel a little bit of a missed opportunity to learn more about tattoing since we get Rob’s POV as he’s learning while doing. In fact, I wish we knew a little bit more about everything. We get a little slice of Chinatown and the culture there. We get a slice of Rob’s disagreement with his father and his relationship with his family. We get slices of Ivo, but not with as much depth as our slice of Luke in the first book and that’s still just a slice. In the first book we see how close Luke and Gus are. Here we get that dynamic with Mace and Ivo, except Mace didn’t share with Ivo about, well, anything–not his father, not Rob, not his past. Actually, I am really starting to like Luke and he occupied all of two pages. The next book will likely be about Ivo and the cop he meets in the aftermath of Mace’s injuries.

There is more action in this one, although you would expect that due to his problems being in the present (which I won’t tell you about because of spoilers) rather than just past wounds, although those are also shown. You know that thing that should happen when you crack yourself open and show someone your scars? That actually happens here. That’s the best thing about this book: that moment you find your person. We get to see Rob and Mace fit together and weave their families together. And if it happens a little too easily, that Rob’s wealthy family just slot into Mace’s rough and tumble one, we need that after the horrors going on here because the abuse and violence don’t get glossed over. Mace certainly deserves some happiness and we do too.

There is a little nod to the Sinner’s series at a party that is nothing to worry about if you’ve not read them. Overall, this is a solid follow-up to the first book and I enjoyed it. I hope the author continues to layer in more depth to the world and all the characters with each new book.

The cover by Reece Notley is gorgeous, but this is not quite how I pictured Mace since he has some scars from childhood, as well as some minor gouges and burns from firefighting, however the abs are as described.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640808614
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series 415 Ink :

Rebel
Savior

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

A savior lies in the heart of every good man, but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside the savior.

The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.

It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love, and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.

Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life, much less his heart, but the brash Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies and saving the man he’s too scared to love.

Savior is the second in the 415 Ink series, the Tattoo shop and  its family this story and series is being built around.  If I loved the first story, then I also completely fell in love with the broken men here as well.  I can see they are all going to effect me that way.  Rhys Ford’s men have a  habit of doing that.

Mace Crawford was introduced to us in Rebel but it wasn’t really his story.  That we get here and what a nightmare it was and  still is because he remains firmly in the grips of what his past, his horror of a childhood  and genetic family has done to him.  It’s given him an emotional mindset that sends him running through the city in an endless game of tag because to remain still scares him, keeps him up and in search of comforting loud noises around him for silence haunts him, and leaves his family of brothers clueless as to the depths of pain and terror he has truly faced in his short lifetime because he fears to tell them.  Complicated doesn’t even begin to cover it.  Mace is a Rhys Ford character in spades and he’s amazing.

The man he can’t keep his eyes off of?  That would be the one employed by his brothers at 415 Ink. Rob Claussen, a tattoo artist, with a lively endearing attitude hiding his own story of rejection and survival.  Rob is the light to Mace’s darkness and Ford makes the pull of attraction between them visceral.

Mace fights his feelings for Rob even as Rob fights for Mace. Ford brings the  monster at the heart of Mace’s past to shatter everything, something you expect from her stories but its still so shattering when it happens…every time.

There are so many wonderful other characters here.  From the Chinese “Grandmother” Mace checks in on in his building to Rob’s best friend to of course, all the brothers…everyone here is someone you enjoy spending time with.  Which is a great thing because they all reappear in each other’s stories to my joy.  There is a great lump of a dog and a child that all are involved in raising,  a house that is ever expanding/repairing/improving itself, and a cobbled together band of brothers you take to heart with their scars inside and out, wounded souls, and need for HEA.

I’m so happy we are only on the second story.  I can’t wait for more.  What a series this is turning out to be.

And yes I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  I like the cover.  It brands the series but wish it was more Rob and less Mace tbh.

 Pre Order Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640808614
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series 415 Ink :

Rebel
Savior

A Lila Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Wolf (Wayward Wolves #1) by Rhys Ford and Derrick McClain Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother, stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs – or four – and quiet evenings…until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.

For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough – right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water, then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.

Loving a werewolf – loving Gibson with all his secrets – has its challenges, but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big, bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.

Once Upon a Wolf has an interesting concept and a slow development. It has a different take on werewolves’ dynamics and relationships. I’m glad it was not an insta-love story–which I love as well-but the pacing gives the reader the chance to understand what makes this short story unique.

The story is more about the relationship between Ellis, Gibson, and Zack than a love story. I really like all the characters, especially Ellis. His relationship with Gibson and how they communicate even when he was in wolf form show the author’s attention to detail. Zach was a bit of a puzzle and I wanted more from him and his background.

Like most short stories, the amount of world-build and new information takes a lot of time to develop, leaving little time for other aspects of the story. It’s a strong start to a series, and I hope book two is better than this one.

Derrick McClain didn’t do much for this story. It felt flat and I have trouble following the characters at times. Other scenes were a bit over the top.

The cover by Reece Notley is simple and to the point just like the story. It’s interesting enough to make people stop and read the blurb.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Derrick McClain
Length: 3 hours and 49 minutes
Published: May 16, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07D314G4X

Edition Language: EnglishSeries: Wayward Wolves
Book #1: Once Upon a Wolf

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Rebel (415 Ink #1) by Rhys Ford and Tristan James (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story has the “flavor” of Rhys Ford’s Sinners Gin or Hellsinger series—there’s a huge cast of characters, all of whom are young men who are just begging to get their own stories. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the author will provide them at some point in the future.

These young men were brought together in their early years through the foster system that didn’t provide any safety net until they formed their own family of sorts. Gus is one of those young men, a tattoo artist who’s been away for a few years, driven by his personal demons, doing what he needed to do to get over breaking up with his lover, Rey Montenegro.

Rey wanted stability and commitment to a future together and apparently Gus didn’t, so he broke up with the moody young man who never seemed to be able to put down roots. Now Gus is back in town and to everyone’s surprise, Gus has been presented with an unexpected gift. The night Rey broke his heart, he got drunk and had sex with a female tattoo artist and he’s just learned from her that her three-year-old son, Chris, is his. Now, faced with trying to get partial custody through a system that rejected him when he was a kid, while also trying to deal with memories of the mother who tried to kill him and was successful in killing herself and his twin, Gus turns to his family-of-choice and to the love of his heart, Rey, to guide him through his nightmares.

The story was interesting and exciting, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and the “feel” of it as I mentioned earlier is similar to that of several of the author’s past successful series so I have no doubt this will be a winner as well. The characters were well-developed, though getting through the introductions to the ensemble cast and their backstories was difficult while listening to the book in audio format. Whereas, in an e-book, I could flip back to easily find a reference to a past event to refresh my memory, that can’t be done in an audiobook and I wanted to be able to do that a few times.

Speaking of audio, the only thing that bugged me about Tristan James’s narration was the extra “s” he put on words ending in “s”. He didn’t just put it where it should be pronounced like in Rhys’s (pronounced Reecez in this case) name but also in others like brothers that he pronounced as brothersez. It detracted from the narration too much to consider the narration top notch and I was disappointed because I generally love his beautiful baritone voice and was looking forward to his narration of this book.

All that being said, I recommend this story to all who love MM romance with couples who are reunited, those who are reformed bad boys, and stories written by Rhys Ford whose word choices give descriptive phrases new meaning. Though I loved this, if given a choice, I’d get the e-book instead of audio.

The cover by Reece Notley depicts a side view of a long-haired man, the hair partially covering his face. Wearing jeans and an open shirt, the ink on his forearm is intricate and beautiful. Very attractive cover!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Book Details:

9 hours 11 minutes

Audible Audio, 9 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published December 29th 2017)
ASINB07C4J6CHN
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series415 Ink #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: 415 Ink: Rebel by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.

Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.

Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.

For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.

When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.

415 Ink: Rebel launches the start of another series by Rhys Ford in stunning style.  A second chance at love story, full of wounded, life-damaged men in search of love and HEA, 415 Ink: Rebel is exactly why I eagerly await each new release by this author. It’s full of people whose lives are easy to fall into, in this case Gus Scott, a wandering tattoo artist returning home after a two and a half year absence with startling news.  Due to one nightmarish breakup and a drunken night years ago, he’s just now learned he’s a father.  Something a gay man is astonished to hear.  And he wants to be a part of his son’s life.

As with most of Rhys Ford’s characters, there’s layers upon layers to Gus Scott and the men he calls family, a group of men tattooed, laden with their own issues, including a past history with Gus burdened with pain and misunderstandings.  To say he’s returning home to a mixed welcome is understated.

As the story unfolds and Gus reveals the news behind his return from his travels, Ford weaves the reader into the emotional fabric of these men and their universe.  We feel Gus’ pain when he finds out he’s a father, his desire to be a part of Chris’ life, the history that led up to Chris’ existence, all mired in one bad decision and breakup that’s casting reverberations still.  It’s nigh to impossible to remain unmoved by this story, especially when all involved want what’s best for Chris.  No “nasty mom or mother’s parents” to be found here.  Instead it’s a refreshing change of responsible adults working together in the best interests of a child.

Yes, this is an emotional journey and not just for Gus and Rey, but for all in the house as they also work to help provide support for Gus and Chris.  Due to Rhys Ford’s superb characters, vivid scenes, and dramatic narrative, I not only felt a part of their lives but believed in them absolutely.

What do you get with a Rhys Ford story?  Men to love, broken hearts in need of mending, extended families giving support, and more romance and angst to overflow any tale….all that and more superbly done.  I’ll leave you with this…

“I’m sorry I wasn’t what you wanted me to be, but you know what? You weren’t what I needed either, even if you were all I wanted.”

Sigh.  Now to wait for the next in the series.  Until then, pick up 415 Ink: Rebel by Rhys Ford.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  Another great cover by Reece Notley.  That’s exactly my  idea of Gus.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: December 29th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803848
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series 415 Ink #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tramps and Thieves (Murder and Mayhem #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.

Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife.

For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.

When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.

He’s back! That angst-filled, ready to run, totally addicting thief Rook Martin and the cop that loves him Dante Montoya in Tramps and Thieves, the second story in Rhys Ford’s Murder and Mayhem series.  Damn, am I happy about that!

Picking up from the tenuous beginnings of a relationship for himself and Dante amid the broken building of Rook’s business in book 1, Murder and Mayhem, Rook dives headlong into trouble by trying to pull off a prank and ends up falling on a corpse instead.  The complications and clues pointing back to Rook being not only involved in the crime but head suspect pile up immediately.  That pulls in his boyfriend and local detective Dante Montoya.

And where’s there’s Dante, there is also his wonderful Uncle Manny who now works for Rook, Rook’s crazy rich grandfather who engenders ambivalent feelings of love, hate and more from Rook, all the many other Martins…lazy, losers, haters, a few loving cousins, and a rich city’s worth of characters that flow out of the head of Ford and into this carnival of lies, double twists and turns, smoke games and so much more.  I love the way the author keeps us guessing along with Rook and Dante.  Ford builds suspense and anticipation into every turn of this murder mystery, there’s so many layers here, made up of pain-filled pasts, twisted family dynamics and more.

But back to the superb characterizations.  You can’t choose just one to highlight because Ford has crafted each so carefully.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s Dante, or Rook, or Manny or the frightening grandfather.  They have an authentic depth to them, they ooze passion and love and fear and yes, intelligence.  I believe in these people.  You will too.

Finally, Ford give a nod to one of my favorite books (if you haven’t read any of Dashiell Hammett’s stories do so now) and movies (Humphrey Bogart, I’ll say no more), The Maltese Falcon with an element here in the story.  Be still my heart.  It’s just perfect.

Can you read this as a stand alone?  Maybe.  But why would you?  Go read the first story, Murder and Mayhem and then run and pick up the marvelous Tramps and Thieves.  I can’t wait to see where Rhys Ford is taking this series next.  It and it’s author are both highly recommended.  But if I could put in a word for a romance for Uncle Manny please?

Cover art by Reece Notley.  Again its Dante, not Rook on the cover.  I miss Rook but he would be a hard character to find a match for.  Dante is much more easily matched.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Tramps and Thieves
ISBN139781640800380
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Murder and Mayhem #2
Characters Rook Stevens, Dante Montoya

A MelanieM Review: Murder and Mayhem (Murder and Mayhem #1) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Dead women tell no tales.

Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.

Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner’d falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still made his blood sing.

Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.

With Murder and Mayhem, Rhys Ford rolls out another great series and another set of spectacular characters.  With storythreads convoluted as hell, and characters with pasts as twisted and hard to untie as wet sailor knots,  this is a story you just need to dive into and enjoy for the sexy, wild knuckle ride it is.

Starting with the fascinating character of Rook Martin, a high class thief trying to go straight, Rook has a background as startling as any you’ve might have come by.  I could go into it here by why spoil the pleasures that Ford has in store for the reader and Dante Montoya as he investigates Rook Martin’s background and stumbles into one shock after another.

So many pleasures here.  The characterizations are outstanding.  From the Cuban-Mexican detective Dante Montoya and his Uncle Manny, who I adore, his ginger haired partner Harry,  to the almost tangible heat that builds up between Rook and Dante, pulling them closer and closer until it ignites off the page.  And all the while a killer is loose, stalking a prey across the pages.  And the killer’s identity will keep you guessing right up until the reveal.

This is a marvel of a story.  I loved every minute of it.  The writing is smooth, action packed, vivid and everything I would want (and have come to expect from Rhys Ford, a go to author for me).  Grab this up and get reading.  You’re going to love it.

Cover art by Reece Notley is wonderful and works for the character of the detective

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  on sale now for $0.99| Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Published June 5th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleMurder and Mayhem
ISBN 1634762231 (ISBN13: 9781634762236)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Murder and Mayhem #1
CharactersRook Stevens, Dante Montoya settingCalifornia (United States)

Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2016)