Release Day Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas

release day review

 

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/strays-by-aj-thomas-9875-b

Blurb

Orphaned at a young age and raised in the foster system, Jory Smith has no idea he’s half incubus. He only knows he has the power to heal people, making himself sick in the process. Exploited by a crooked faith healer who sells his abilities and his life to the highest bidder and then left for dead, Jory flees, falling into a job at a small-town café where he can put his lifelong obsession with baking to good use.

But the minister who exploited him wants him back.

Exiled hellhound-turned–bounty hunter Malpheus Pelle has no idea why his human client wants him to track down an incubus. Jory is traumatized and afraid to touch anyone, an emotional handicap that could prove fatal for a demon who requires physical contact. Needing answers, Mal concocts a disastrous plan: pretend to date Jory to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, his plan never included dealing with an ancient demon assassin, Jory’s orgasmic pumpkin cookies, or losing his heart to the incubus he’s supposed to be hunting….

 

Review by Karen

 
This was a really fun paranormal romance, set in a well-drawn imaginary world.

Mal and Jory are a match made in heaven, or hell rather, since both of them are demons, though only one of them actually knows that. I was quite intrigued by the mystery surrounding Jory ‘s powers and identity and had a hard time stopping myself from skipping to the end to find that out sooner than the author intended.

I adore Mal for the way he cares for Louise and for how suddenly and completely he loses his heart to Jory. Even believing it’ll mean forfeiting his own life, he’s still all in and wants to protect Jory…no matter what. If only Mal could also find a way to be completely honest with Jory about who they both are without losing him. Decisions, decisions…

Jory’s a dear as well, a genuinely kind and caring person. He doesn’t start off squeaky clean though, helping a corrupt reverend to deceive his gullible congregation, but we can forgive him because he truly does help people and in a way he sticks to the only (manipulative and ungrateful) family he’s ever known. And almost gets himself killed in the process. Poor guy.

I really liked the hierarchy in the demon-world, and the way it mirrors human society in a way, though on a darker and more dangerous scale because, hey…demons. There’s a lot of strife and one-upmanship, both close-knit and dysfunctional families, and last but not least, discrimination between the different species.
I loved the amount of detail that went into the world-building and the original take on the incubus-mythology. The secondary characters were lovely and I hope to see more of them in future books, especially Keygan and Neal. Neal is great as a demon turned guardian angel, booze and all.

I very much hope this will turn into a series!

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 
Review by Neta
I was very interested in this book and love the plot going in, I do have to say as I got into it I was constantly confused and felt like details were too vague. I mainly feel like the world was not build clearly enough, for example some names of creatures were not explained and I found myself trying to make sense of them or having to wait for another tidbit of information to understand the meaning of authors intent. When you have a fantasy setting such as this and you invent names for things there needs to be some consistency and clarity. I was too focused on understanding these small things to enjoy the story itself at times. I also feel like Jory himself was not clearly defined as a character, and at times he was unaware of his Incubi bloodline and the fact demons and Hell exist. Other times he was very cool about magical, supernatural things and his un-human-ness and I found that a bit strange. There is a bit of mystery involved in this story, and it was done fairly well and was interesting and unexpected at times but the Supernatural elements being so undefined really got in the way for me.
Mal and Jory are cute together, sweet and fun, I loved his companion Louise was a character I really liked, there was something about her connection to Mal and the story behind her name that touched my heart. Neal was a mysterious one, and I don’t feel I fully get what his deal is and his connection to all the other supernatural things going on in this book but he was funny and I liked him as well.
I wish this book had better structure, and a bit more cohesiveness, because the plot was interesting with lots of potencial.

Number of stars out of 5
3


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Morgan

There is much about this that I liked. The world building is unique and definitely interesting and kept me reading. I wasn’t ever quite sure what Jory’s deal was and how he went from healer to powerful incubus and even what all the rules governing his status was – and that made this a frustrating read.

Mal also confused the hell outta me in that at times he seemed eager to give up his life and then he would reverse and be sort of stand offish – all without really even knowing Jory that well.

I sort of understood the others who were there defending Jory but all in all I feel like this was a story with parts missing.

The romance itself was ok, but again, there was SO MUCH going on that it was hard to really focus on the romance at all and in fact it didn’t really fell like a focus, more like a side interest.

By the end our guys have a tentative HFN but it wasn’t super satisfying to me.

I was captivated by the magic and world building but underwhelmed by the final execution of the story itself, especially the romance.

2.75 rounded to 3 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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