A MelanieM Review: Hidden Gem by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

hiddengem_final03With a past that haunts him with nightmares, Misaki “Aki” Itou became a “contracted companion”, a whore, in order to survive , leaving  his starving existence on the streets behind. Aki is a  psi—a person with mutated DNA granting him psychic abilities.  And that makes him both a danger to himself and an object of fear and interest to the government scientists of the North and South.  Only his contract and position as the “shining jewel” and  top companion at the Hidden Gem,protects him while making enough money to buy the prettiest, most sparkly shoes he can find.

Det. Shane McNaughton is a cop, the Head of Missing Persons,with a completion rate so high that no one can top him. McNaughton  survived the Third World War for one reason only, one he hides.  Shane McNaughton is a A-M, one of many animal mutations that occurred as part of the chemical warfare between the North and the South.  And while it gives him supernatural abilities it also makes him a monster when the virus isn’t dormant.  His secret is known only to a few and that makes Shane McNaughton one lone  wolf.  Except when it comes to Aki Itou.

For two years Shane has been paying for Aki’s services, both for Aki’s sexual favors and for Aki’s psychic abilities.  Always Shane has wanted more from Aki, and always he has been denied.  When several children of the wealthy go missing only to be found dead, its up to Shane and Aki to combine their powers to find the children in time and expose the killer.  But nothing prepares either one for the forces they unleash from the past that continues to haunt them both.

What a fantastical and inventive story Lissa Kasey has created for her release, Hidden Gem.  Complete with a complex back story for her universe that includes a World War III where the weapons were chemical and their impact upon the populace diabolical and disastrous, Kasey manages to paint a portrait of a world gone dark and deadly, full of dead bodies, camps, and experimentation.   That the descriptions aren’t incredibly graphic doesn’t take away any of their horror and impact.  Relayed to the reader through memories of several of the characters, those past events come across as fresh and terrifying, a vision that haunts the narrative from start to finish.

Overlaying the past like a infirm veneer, the present is a place of secrets, hidden agendas, and where a sanctuary can be the last place anyone would consider safe and desirable.  That last place, of course, being the Hidden Gem, a high level brothel known for its desirable male and female contracted companions.  Aki and Candy, his best friend and fellow high paid companion, are happy and safe within the confines of their profession and contracts.  Kasey lets us into the  intimacies of their friendship and the daily operations of the Hidden Gem.  It’s a fascinating world full of equally intriguing and memorable characters, not the least of which are Aki and Candy.  Aki whose dress and makeup never try to hide his eyes which give away the fact that he is psi.  And delectible Candy, whose mind reflects colored clouds and happiness back to Aki, is a jewel in his own right.  I only hope that Lissa Kasey has another story in mind for this universe featuring Candy, he deserves it.  The darkness of the companions pasts are always present, although pressed into the background or saved for their nightmares.

At the other end of society’s spectrum is the police unit headed up by Shane McNaughton, a cop who no longer considers himself a man.  He is also tormented by his past and present.  Only being in the presence of Aki, is that pain alleviated for Shane. Kasey makes Shane as fully realized a being as Aki, although his darkness and past are more fully known then Aki’s for most of the story.  Shane is a powerful figure and he moves through the narrative with a blunt forcefulness that can take your breath away.

There is a malignant center to this story and a mystery of the most chilling and heartbreaking kind.  Children are being kidnapped and  horrifically killed.  Kasey weaves her mystery thread through all the other filaments pulling together to make this an outstanding tapestry of a tale.  Its not enough that each character carries a truckload of pain and secrets behind them, the author also keeps in mind each character’s emotional, mental and physical needs as well.  All are juggled in a high wire balancing act that ends in an astonishing conclusion  that will stay with you long after the story is over.

I hope this is not the last we have seen of the Hidden Gem universe and characters.  Lissa Kasey has left herself plenty of room for more stories to come.  They and the readers deserve them.  Consider Hidden Gem and Lissa Kasey highly recommended by Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words!  Grab it up today and start reading.

Cover Artist:2014 Shobana Appavu.  Love the cover.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press  Paperback     All Romance eBooks (ARe)      Amazon    Hidden Gem

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages
Published September 26th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632161994

A MelanieM Review: A Tooth for a Fang by Liv Olteano

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A Tooth for a FangOn a vacation for the first time in ages, Rick Barton is reflecting over his past and wondering what to do next with his life.  Rick is just gotten out of a long abusive relationship with a man who was not only his lover but boss and owner of the house they lived in.  With one punch (long over due) all that was gone, and although Rick is glad, he’s shaky about his future.

Then a gorgeous man approaches him on the beach, A flirtation leads to a romantic encounter in the water which leads to….a bite?  Late Rick wakes up in the hospital to find the same man who bit him sitting in the room next to his bed.  The man?  Not a man, a lycan with a proposal he wants Rick to accept.  Become a lycan like him and join the Paranormal Bureau of Investigation.  All it will take is another bite.  Or stay the way he is and suffer the consequences.  Not much of a deal, then again Rick doesn’t have much of a life and he accepts the bite and the job.  Then it turns out the lycan who bit him is also his boss and partner.  Has Rick exchanged one controlling lover for another?

Lycan Detective Travis Chandler is looking for that one person who could be his mate as well as investigative partner.  One look at Rick Barton on the beach, and Travis knew that Rick was the perfect person for all the jobs he has in mind.  But Travis didn’t count on Rick’s pain filled background or the growing number of bodies that he and Rick are called ti investigate even before Rick’s training is over.

Someone is killing the leaders of the paranormal world.  It will take everything Travis and Rick have to track down the killer or killers, stop them from murdering more beings, and bring them all to justice, paranormal style.  All while adjusting to each other, and for Rick, learning exactly what it means to be a lycan.  There’s no time for romance, is love in the air?  And can Rick sniff it out in time?

A new shifter novel and new author?  Heck yeah!  And A Tooth for a Fang appears to the the first in a new series called Leader Murders from Liv Olteano.  At first I approached this story with a bit of trepidation, even with the shifter element.  Rick Barton has been in a long term abusive relationship.  His lover controlled him in almost every way becoming his lover, his boss, and yes, landlord.  Then he is supposed to be forced by a lycan into a similarly controlling relationship? Hmmm, not sure how that was going to play out.  But Liv Olteano takes those assumptions or perhaps expectations and delivers  something entirely different.

I loved Olteano’s paranormal world that exists alongside ours.  It’s ruled by The Council, whose Special Work Forces, like the Paranormal Bureau of Investigation insures the security of their society, investigates all wrong doings, and acts as law enforcement for all beings of which lycans are just the start.  Lycans and werewolves (not the same here), vampires, trolls, and much, much more comprise this society, each with its own set of governing rules to follow as well.  Get get a taste of vampire, werewolf, and lycan group structures as well as an overall feel to how the paranormal society is run as a whole.  Turns out its pretty autocratic which goes along with how Rick is recruited to begin with.

I love the sequnce of bites that establishes a lycan and its relationship to others, including the one who bit it.  First bite?  Makes a recruit with options. Second bite?  Makes a lycan.  Third bite?  Well, that’s one you will have to find out yourself.  I love that Liv Olteano doesn’t exactly follow common lore here but adds her own twists to make it  distinctive and inventive.

There are ghastly murders to investigate and here the sense of smell becomes both an ultimate investigative tool and powerful component to this story.  Aromas of all sorts come into play here from the delightful to the nauseating and Olteano’s descriptives almost enable us to smell them all.  The reveal of the culprit might not surprise you but the motive will.  Loved that too.

The heart of this story is the evolving relationship between Rick and Travis.  It’s sweeter than expected yet still  contains enough sarcasm and snark to give it some bite.  And best of all, no instant love to be found here.  Instant lust?  Assuredly.  A slow growing friendship and trust?  That comes along too.  But it has to be earned, especially when you have someone as emotionally wounded as Rick is.  That aspect of their relationship and this story  really pulled me in and kept me involved.

I absolutely recommend this story.  What a great universe Liv Olteano has built and what fascinating characters she has created that inhabit it.  There’s a troll who is also the Morgue Examiner, and a werewolf nurse caught in mid-shift.  They are all as delightful and intriguing as the main characters we get involved in.   Olteano’s writing is smotth, the plot well conceived and the romance?  Wonderful.  This book exceeded all my expectations and then some.  I can’t wait for more.

Cover artist: AngstyG.  Love that cover, all dark and sexy! Perfect.

Sales Links:     Dreamspinner Press         All Romance eBooks      Amazon           A Tooth for a Fang

 Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published September 3rd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB00MYN0HUO
edition languageEnglish

Book Blast: Liv Olteano’s ‘A Tooth for a Fang’ Tour and Contest

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Blast Into the Supernatural with

 

Liv Olteano’s A Tooth for a Fang!

 

Check out the excerpt and don’t forget to enter the contest for an eBook copy of A Tooth for a Fang, link at the end.

Book Name: A Tooth for a Fang
Goodreads Link
Author Name: Liv Olteano
Author Bio:

Liv Olteano is a voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional.
She believes stories are the best kind of magic there is. And life would be horrible without magic. Her hobbies include losing herself in the minds and souls of characters, giving up countless nights of sleep to get to know said characters, and trying to introduce them to the world. Sometimes they appreciate her efforts. The process would probably go quicker if they’d bring her a cup of coffee now and then when stopping by. Characters—what can you do, right?
Liv has a penchant for quirky stories and is a reverent lover of diversity. She can be found loitering around the Internet at odd hours and being generally awkward and goofy at all times.

ToothForAFang[A]ORIG finalPublisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG
Sales Links:   Dreamspinner eBook        Dreamspinner Press Paperback

Blurb:
Three days. Three dead bodies. One newly turned, broken-hearted lycan tracker to figure out the connection.

The one summer Rick Barton takes a vacation, all hell breaks loose. Running from an abusive relationship leads him into the arms of hard-nosed lycan Travis Chandler, who gives him little choice but to become a lycan too and join the Paranormal Bureau of Investigation. Out of options, Rick joins the weird organization, expecting some two weeks of training and an adjustment period. Tough luck, he doesn’t get either. On his first day, his new partner offers to promote him to field agent if they get mated – less time wasted on training, more time on the field, and considering Rick is the only tracker the Bureau has on hand when a wave of strange murders hits the community, time is of the essence.

Someone’s killing the leaders of the paranormal world and mutilating the bodies. Investigating and tracking clues is enough of a challenge, and Rick must contend with an impatient Council, Travis’s advances, and actually adjusting to being a lycan. Only one thing is certain: Rick’s new life promises plenty of interesting adventures—as long as he can survive.

Categories Per the Author: Crime Fiction, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Erotic

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A Tooth For A Fang Excerpt :

“This,” he said with a lisp, “is how a lycan looks. This is what you’ll be able to turn into with the second bite.”

“I think I just pissed myself,” I babbled.

He snorted. “No, you didn’t.”

I shook my head, stunned. “So you look like a… lycan, but you’re thinking and all like a man? Do you need to do something now that you turned, like chew on the furniture or eat me or something?”

He rolled his eyes. “Ridiculous. Of course not. My head is clear and still human if that’s what you’re wondering.”

“Love the lisp,” I said blinking slowly.

“Kiss my ass, tough guy,” he said and grinned—I think.

It was kind of hard to tell with the snout-like thing going on. But it sounded like “kish my ash” which I found absolutely hilarious. Not enough to actually laugh, what with the show and all, but hilarious.

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FangBadgeTour Dates: 9/3/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Cathy Brock Romances, Love Bytes, Prism Book Alliance, The Hat Party, My Fiction Nook, Jade Crystal, Velvet Panic, Queer Town Abbey, 3 Chicks After Dark, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Rainbow Gold Reviews, A_TiffyFit’s Reading Corner, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Foxylutely Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, Multitasking Mommas, Cate Ashwood, Inked Rainbow Reads, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Guilty Indulgence Book Club, Up All Night, Read All Day, Iyana Jenna

Contest:Rafflecopter Prize: E-book copy of ‘A Tooth for a Fang’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Use the Rafflecopter link provided to enter and for additional contest details.

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