This October – since we just got done with Paranormal Month – we are going to focus on all things Spooky, scary, ghosty and Halloween-y!
Join us for these “haunting titles” and more!
Cole Alpin runs a small-town candy store. He visits his grandmother twice a week. And sometimes he breaks curses.
Leo Ericson’s curse is obvious right away, spiderwebbing across his very nice body. Though something about it worries Cole, he agrees to help—with little idea of what he’s getting into.
Leo is a serial monogamist, but his vampire ex has taken dating off the table with his nasty spell, and Leo needs Cole’s companionship as much as his help. When the hex proves to be only the beginning of his problems, Leo seeks refuge at Cole’s place. Too bad magic prevents him from finding refuge in Cole’s arms.
Cole’s never had a boyfriend, so how can he recognize true love? And there’s still the matter of the one responsible for their troubles in the first place…
I liked the premise for this story. The idea that there are witches around with different talents who are discrete around the ‘mundanes’ or ‘muggles’ as they call them. As well as vampires, werewolves, elves etc. Leo comes to Cole for help. He had a brief relationship with a vampire who left him cursed. A curse that is seriously messing up his love life. Cole knows that only true loves kiss will break the curse but can he be the one. The realisation that there is more the world than he ever realised was a bit of a shock for Leo. Bring into this budding new love Cole’s meddling grandmother and Leo’s friend succumbing to a vampire and you have an entertaining story. My favourite character was Cole’s familiar Nineveh, she would say exactly what she thought. Personally I thought it ended abruptly but if it’s the start of a series with Cole and Leo maybe it was the best place. Although I wouldn’t mind reading more about about Leo’s friend Jimmy and his Vampire.
3.5 of stars out of 5
Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling—a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.
There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?
My first thoughts when I started reading this book was where is this going. The reader is left to ponder the mysterious circumstances of Duncan feeling the pull to come to San Jose. When I did get more into the story I was equally intrigued and impatient to know what happens next. So much happens, changes and becomes revealed I couldn’t stop until I found out more. The Author provides a lot of details which helps the flow of the story. To be honest after reading the blurb I was expecting a paranormal a story but not necessarily vampires. It was a good surprise especially as I found this story to be an interesting new take on it. The whole hierarchy and customs are well developed making it a credible scenario. I especially liked that although we understand a lot has to happen for Duncan and Kirtus to be together, it’s kept off page. The romance between them is written very well and feels a natural development. The conclusion ties up a lot of lose ends nicely but frustratingly opens the door to more books.I only say frustratingly because I hate the carrot of the next story dangled in front of me if I can’t read it yet!
5 of stars out of 5
A retired marine, Logan is methodical and conservative. Richard is a liberal pacifist who is pathologically afraid of guns. Yet the minute Logan sets eyes on Richard, his heart turns over like an old car engine and it isn’t long before his motor is revved and Richard is in the driver’s seat—even if it seems like each man is driving a different car.
Richard Hunter is parenting his grandson, and the kid—Nick—has had it rough. Richard vows nothing will stop him from creating a loving and stable home. Not even a tempting, red-hot relationship with a very attractive man. However, when Richard looks into Logan’s blue eyes it’s tough to stay focused.
It’s never easy to become a family, what with a temperamental eight-year-old, disapproving outsiders, and outright extortion attempts. But when push comes to shove, both Logan and Richard are committed family men who want to make a loving home for a little boy who needs them
Family Unit is one of my favourite books. I love the romance of opposites attract. Finding that special someone when you least expect it. Especially since this story is about older men finding love again. Throw into the mix Richard being a single parent (single grandparent) and it’s all my wishes for a feel good story coming together. Logan is a retired Marine Colonel. Being in the service has been his life. He lost his previous partner to cancer and is now making a new life for himself in California. Richard on the other hand does not like violence, especially guns. It does take a bit of a bumpy start but when they do, they were hot together. One of the reasons this is a favourite of mine is the way Nick, Richard’s grandson, is portrayed so realistically. He takes time to warm up to Logan, as any kid would do when someone new is brought into the family. Logan understands that Nick has to come first for Richard. Any doubts Richard might have about sharing his life with Logan are dismissed after Logan comes to the rescue. This story leaves me feeling happy.
First impression is that the sound quality isn’t great. It sounds like it was recorded in a tin can but if you can get over that it is a very enjoyable story. JP Handler’s voice suits the mature characters well and he manages a passable Nick. Not one of my top narrator’s but it didn’t put me off enjoying listening to the story.
5 stars out of 5 for the story
2.5 stars out of 5 for the narration/audiobook quality
Overall 3 of 5 stars
Purchased for Review
Hunting ghosts and finding more than they bargained for.
Blaine Franks is a member of the paranormal research group the Supernatural Explorers. When the group loses their techie to a cross-country move, newly graduated Flynn Huntington gets the job. Flynn fits in with the guys right off the bat, but when it comes to him and Blaine, it’s more than just getting along.
Things heat up between Blaine and Flynn as they explore their first haunted building, an abandoned hospital, together. Their relationship isn’t all that progresses, though, and soon it seems that an odd bite on Blaine’s neck has become much more.
Hitchhiking ghosts, a tragic love story forgotten by time, and the mystery of room 204 round out a romance where the things that go bump in the night are real.
This was way more spooky than I anticipated!
I was thinking this was going to be more funny than anything and –honestly – by the name I thought if some sort of Super Hero theme was going to play out – but there are no Super Heroes. It’s very spooky at times, and the ending HEA is even more sweet than I’d have thought by the half-way point!
I was very pleasantly surprised by this and thought it was a well crafted suspense story combined with a sweet and lovely supernatural story of love beyond time.
4.5 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review
(Don’t forget – commenters on this month’s “spooky reviews” will be entered to win some Jordan L Hawk swag or $15 from Dreamspinner!)
When a serious bout of writer’s block threatens to delay mystery author Drew Daniels’s newest book, his aunt offers her New Orleans apartment in the heart of the French Quarter as a writing retreat. She neglects to mention that it’s occupied by the enigmatic and sexy Finn Murphy, a cemetery tour guide with a penchant for Victorian attire and a Cajun accent.
A body discovered in an open crypt forces reclusive Drew to deal with Finn’s eccentric group of friends and his underlying attraction to the hot Cajun—despite warnings about Finn’s violent past. Drew might write this stuff, but he’s never had to solve a real-life murder. With a deadline looming and a killer on the loose, this retreat is proving to be anything but helpful for Drew’s novel. Drew can only hope he won’t end up a tragic tale for the Ghostly Legends & Lore, Inc. haunted tour.
This is a murder/mystery set in New Orleans. Drew is a writer who travels to NO to get some inspiration to write. His aunt lets him use her flat, but ‘forgets’ that she’s sublet the flat to a handsome ghost tour operator – Finn.
The story is well written; there is a lot about the food, history of NO. The characters are well developed, though I found Drew to be a little tiresome as he spent a lot of time in the opening chapters pining after Finn. The story is mostly an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery, where all the major characters have a motive for murder. I say mostly, because the is an undercurrent of the supernatural – the crow/Marie Laveau and the protection amulet.
This was an enjoyable read, especially for Halloween.
3.5 stars out of 5
Copy Purchased For Review
When Ethan Brant was shot, he found himself dealing with severe PTSD and unable to do his job as a police officer any longer. With the aid of Detective Shawn Greyson, the man who saved his life, Ethan not only finds himself again but discovers love as well. Shawn’s life growing up was less than ideal, however, he overcame that to become who he is today. That doesn’t mean he isn’t missing something in his life. What Shawn hadn’t realized, upon first meeting, was that Ethan could give him all that and more. One bullet changed both their lives.
The story starts after Ethan has physically recovered from being shot but has severe PTSD. There is a slow start to romance between Ethan and Shawn. They dance around any possibility of being attracted to each other when all their friends can clearly see they are. To be honest the slow build up didn’t hold my attention and I found myself drifting away from the story. It was about half way when they had their first kiss and it was sweet, lovely and amusing. The sex scenes fade to black and I’m fine with that. The story conveys the strength of feelings between them without needing to go into details. In this respect the story does have a young adult feel about it.
Much to my surprise the story is very low angst. I was expecting a lot more given the blurb. In one respect it’s good to have a character whose treatment for PTSD works for them but for me, in this case, it didn’t make an interesting read. When the PTSD did occur there wasn’t much grit to it. It felt glossed over rather than dealt with n detail.
There is a good cast of supporting characters, Shawn’s sister Sophia, Detective Davies, Ethan’s brother Matty and best friend Sebastian who bring in the lighter elements. They would work as a good balance if only there was more grit and angst but as there is not it leaves their contributions flat.
One bullet is a nice sweet story of two people finding love out of a tragic incident. Just don’t expect it to be a gritty drama.
3 of 5 stars
Victor Bayne sees dead people for a living…and he sees them off the clock, too. After all, ghosts don’t confine their appearances to a psychic medium’s work hours.
From the macabre to the mundane, from titillating to tender, these PsyCop shorts feature stolen moments between the novels. Get a glimpse of Vic’s life with Jacob between cases, from both men’s viewpoints. Gain new insight on their psychic talents by accompanying them on odd jobs, shopping runs and family visits, or simply enjoy some downtime in the cannery.
The twenty short works range in length from flash fiction to novelettes, woven together to create a novel-length narrative of Vic and Jacob’s relationship from a fresh perspective. The stories are gleaned from various sources: anthologies, newsletters, and web, with four all-new pieces to tie the collection together and delve deeper into your favorite PsyCops’ domestic life.
Stroke of Midnight
Most Likely To…
Jock Straps On Sale
Piece of Cake
In the Dark
Let the Chips Fall
Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
On the Road
Off the Cuff
Locked and Loaded
(Book reviewed here previously)
First, the timeline Jordan gives us helps with understanding both the flow and order of these stories.
A Rough Timeline
The PsyCop shorts differ from the main series in various ways: tone, pacing, even subject matter. Some of them don’t fit neatly into a specific slot in the series. Some of them may even contradict small facts from the main books. They’re tangents, really, bits of story that would warp the pacing of a longer book, but things that seemed to be worth exploring.
Coffee O’Clock takes place soon after Among the Living, when Vic’s relationship with Jacob was still tenuous and new. A few months elapsed before Thaw, so it would be set betweenBody & Soul and Secrets. So would Stroke of Midnight, their first New Year’s together.
No Sale is the first story that takes place after they move in to the cannery, so it’s after Secrets and Camp Hell. Most Likely To…, Let the Chips Fall, Off the Cuff and Memento all occur after the move-in. Vic’s baking effort marks their first anniversary together, so Piece of Cake occurred just after GhosTV.
In the Dark, which expands on Jacob’s relationship with Keith, would be their second Halloween together, which puts it between GhosTV and Spook Squad. That would make Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns a future Halloween.
The stories where Vic tangles with Crash happened closer to the beginning of their friendship. Mind Reader would be pretty early, in the Fall just after Criss Cross, but in Jock Straps they’re more comfortable together, so it’s the next Spring, after Body & Soul.
Since Lisa is in town with Waiting Game, it happened during the gap between GhosTV and Spook Squad, which was the longest continuous stretch she was in Chicago.
In Impact, Jacob is beginning to explore his own abilities, so that’s after Camp Hell. Wood and On the Road are set around the holidays of their second winter, and Vic is at ease with Jacob’s family by then, so they occur after Spook Squad, as do Locked and Loaded and Witness.
Inside Out is a prequel set before Among the Living, but it wouldn’t be as interesting to read it chronologically. I think of it as a flashback episode of a sitcom where none of the characters know each other yet; the fun comes from viewing it through the lens of knowing that those ships passing in the night will eventually collide.
These snatches of stories—vignettes and flashbacks, and a few longer meaningful moments that happened when the novels weren’t looking—form a mosaic of Vic and Jacob’s relationship that’s still recognizable as them, but shows the two of them in some new and unexpected colors.
This is a very cute “morning after” with Vic and Jacob. I love how little things bother Vic in this one that we see pop up again and again in other stories. (Like how Jacob is kind of a slob with his stuff!) We also get to see just how important Jacob is to Vic and how pivotal this time period is for them as a couple.
This is just a sweet little story about Vic and Jacob being cute with one another and very loving. Also – ice skating!
I’m not sure what this was about… but I’ll bet it plays out in the future. A little (weird) interlude between Vic and Crash.
Stroke of Midnight
Jacob ends up alone at a New Year’s Eve party at his ex’s house. He’s lucky, though, he ends up with Vic at Midnight.
Very cute and the two of them are so sweet with one another!
This is a quick shopping trip where Vic runs into a knife wielding ghost and Jacob shows us how much he trusts Vic.
Most Likely To…
I thought this was a fascinating look through Vic’s eyes at himself and a nice little glimpse of the lengths Jacob will go to to find out more/support his love.
Jock Straps On Sale
As with Crash in general, I’m not quite sure where this was going… but it was funny!
Piece of Cake
Ha! This is a fun look at Vic and Crash and baking for Jacob!
In the Dark
This was a pretty fascinating look both at how Vic sees himself as compared to the rest of Jacob’s friends and a little bit on morality and moral obligations. Really interesting.
Let the Chips Fall
Cute story about our boys buying paint.
I think this is my favorite of all the little side stories. It is an amazingly sweet look at Vic through Jacob’s eyes and it just GLOWS with his ardor. He loves Vic so, so much. Fascinating and so touching.
(This was previously released as it’s own audio and I reviewed it here. https://openskyebookreviews.com/memento-psycop-6-2-by-jordan-castillo-price-narrated-by-gomez-pugh/ )
I like seeing Jacob flexing his psychic “muscle”.
Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
What an interesting one! I loved the take on the haunted house and the eventual ghost hunt. (The castration zone was particularly disturbing!)
Yes! One from Lisa’s perspective! So fascinating. All the wondering. Si? No.
On the Road
Mr. Perfect not being perfect, though still perfectly charming.
This is a fun “boys will be boys” side trip where Vic and Jacob are easy in their relationship and having fun. It was a blast!
Off the Cuff
A little bit more “boy humor” with our guys. 🙂
Locked and Loaded
I love both the psychic strength Vic shows here and the love he has for Jacob.
Technically this is a pre-quel to the Psycop series but I strongly recommend reading it after book one and before Thaw, so that’s where I’m going to place it. You’ll have already read book one, so you know Crash, Carolyn, Victor and Jacob.
This is the first time Jacob meets Victor and hears about Crash. So interesting!
This was a well crafted short story about a strange training exercise that ends up topsy turvy. And a little smexy times!
For fans of the series, some of these you’ll have already read, so it’s great having them compiled in one convenient package, but there are others here that are new and so much fun to read!
Gomez Pugh is amazing!
I’m so glad we get a little bit more of Gomez Pugh doing amazing work and bringing Vic and Jacob to life! The end of the series was hard to see, so having these little clips to re-visit was a welcome gift! As I previously reviewed, Memento is still my favorite of the bunch. Jacob and Vic’s relationship is just showcased so perfectly and Gomez does a terrific job of showing us those feelings shared between them. His dry humor is just spot-on for Vic but the warmth in Jacob’s voice also speaks volumes.
I loved having a whole “Lisa” story – I just love that accent! Of course, Crash is wonderful – as usual. And we get the whole host of other amazing voices that we’ve already fallen in love with!
For fans of the series, the author and the narrator – this is a must buy! If you haven’t experienced the joy that is this series – you have to start at book one – but you’ve got a wonderful experience ahead of you!
5 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review
Karl Kringle hates the modern-day Christmas. He was born to be Krampus, but the Holiday Council refuses to let him help his brother Nick—aka Santa Claus—with the Naughty List until he finds his holiday spirit. To meet that challenge, he’s turned human and dumped in a strange apartment.
Lewis Weatherby loves the holidays and always has. Not only do his parents own a pumpkin patch and tree farm, he’s also inherited a Christmas-themed shop. All he wants from Santa is the man of his dreams, and the Big Guy might’ve just delivered. Lewis’s new neighbor Karl is gorgeous, sweet, and has a fantastic sense of humor—if his jokes about being Krampus are any indication.
Soon getting home is less important to Karl than what will happen when Lewis inevitably realizes the truth behind his jokes. He’s finally starting to understand the real joy of the season—now he just has to figure out how to hold on to it.
OMG! I loved this! Talk about taking a different spin on things!
There’s no dishonesty, even though there is a Big Misunderstanding. I loved that as it was such a refreshing change of pace. I also loved that Lewis is older and imperfect. Jer is funny and snarky and a great guy (and I’m so happy for his Christmas Wish to come true!). Noel is HYSTERICAL and so surprising- seeing him with Santa was hoot but also sweet, too. Karl is sweet and loving and yet manages to maintain his “grumpy” stance when appropriate. Watching him with Lewis’ niece was adorable. Lewis’ family is great and the “twist” at the end – SUPERB!
My only complaint was that this didn’t last longer! I wanted to read Noel’s story in it’s entirety but was glad I got the “reader’s digest version” here. I loved that Santa and Karl weren’t enemies and that all Karl wanted to do was help. Basically I loved everything about this!
I just can’t gush enough about this and sincerely hope you all read this. It’s fun, funny, touching, sweet and full of wonderful Holiday cheer.
(I think the subdued smexy times really fit the scene here and they were just explicit enough. The “Beauty and the Beast” reference really struck home because that’s exactly what I’d been thinking!)
(The cover is awesome too!)
6 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review
Aaron has spent the past ten months alone. When he meets a sad, yet strangely familiar man on a cold Halloween night, he impulsively invites him home. But the intimate connection they share lasts only until morning. Aaron wakes up alone—wracked with guilt and devastated to have lost his chance.
Or so he thinks.
Thanksgiving brings Aaron another shot at happiness, but letting go of an old love and accepting a new one isn’t as easy as everyone keeps telling him. And by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, it becomes clear that Aaron’s not the only one struggling to let himself love again.
Christmas miracles are all well and good, but it’s going to take more than the Holiday Spirit for Aaron to get his happy ever after.
A story of grief, sadness, and letting it go; and finding love when you least expect it.
Wow, this is NOT what I was expecting!
I guess – the strangely familiar thing – sort of set my expectations for the story to go one way and it definitely went a totally different way. Not bad, just different.
I don’t want to necessarily give things away, but I was surprised by that “twist” if you will and it took some adjusting because I wasn’t as forgiving as “Clarence”.
I loved the direct way the two MCs communicated with each other that first night and the way “George” is just so open with his family and WOW did I love George’s family (I’d love to see Kevin’s story in a full book!).
The smexy times were very low key and sort of matched the tone of this – the feels are what are important here, though the two definitely have chemistry.
If you’re a person who loves “widower” stories – this hits all those buttons – man does it! – but I think it also really moves the couple along at a believable pace. What would have made this a 5 star read for me would have been a bit more exploration of “George’s” situation and a bit more discussion of how George and Clarence got from point A to HEA. It’s kind of over in a blink of an eye – very happily so! – but I wanted to see some of that on page.
It’s a sweet, very sentimental and touching holiday story and I do recommend it.
4 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review