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    Review: The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings by Lily Morton 2019 11 14
    Joyfully Jay
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    Rating: 5 stars
    Buy Links: 
     Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
    Length: Novel

    After his long-term relationship ended due to a cheating boyfriend, Levi Black is eager for a new start. He has recently inherited a house in York, and a change of scenery seems perfect. When he arrives, Levi learns that no one seems to keep the house for long, but he doesn’t think much of it until he actually moves in. Then the house is full of banging and mysteriously opening windows and all kinds of weird and frightening occurrences. Levi has never believed in ghosts or the supernatural, but something strange is definitely going on in his house.

    When Levi encounters Blue Billings, a local ghost tour guide, he is hopeful the man will be able to tell him more about the stories surrounding his house. Blue is willing to help, but he is also wary and wants to keep his distance; Levi seems so kind and genuine and Blue has long learned to protect himself and his heart. But when Levi learns Blue has been living on the streets, he insists that Blue stay with him while they dig deeper into the mystery.

    As Blue and Levi spend more time in the house, it becomes even clearer that something quite sinister is happening. While Blue has long known about the existence of ghosts, Levi is forced to accept the reality as things escalate to real danger. As they spend time together, the men also begin to fall for one another. Blue has tried keeping his distance, as he knows he shouldn’t come to rely on Levi. Once the ghost problem is resolved, he will have to be on his way. But he also can’t help how hard he is falling for Levi. For his part, Levi has grown to care deeply for Blue as well, and he is determined that there be a chance for a real future between them. But as the men get closer to the truth about what his happening in Levi’s house, the danger continues to grow. If they can’t figure out how to stop the ghost that is threatening them, the men could find themselves the next victims.

    The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings is Lucy Morton’s first foray into paranormal and I absolutely went crazy for this one. You probably know I am an enormous fan of the author’s humorous contemporary stories, so I was really eager to see how things would go with this new genre and I was just blown away. The story is everything I want in a scary paranormal — interesting world building, great suspense, a good dose of horror, wonderful romance, and just enough humor to balance out the scarier parts. I just adored everything about this story and found myself both dying to race through it, but also sad because I didn’t want to be done.

    So let’s talk ghost stories here. Morton does a great job building the horror and suspense and we slowly see the danger increase and the mystery unfold as to what is going on in Levi’s house. This is a contemporary with a paranormal twist and Morton gives us enough world building to explain a little about how ghosts, mediums, and psychics all work. It helps to round out the story by building more depth into the house haunting than just scary happenings. We also learn more about some of the local ghost legends in York with Blue as our guide, and his experience and research helps to really develop the mystery. Morton takes this story into some scary places; I definitely felt like there were plenty of thrills and truly dangerous moments, and the book is quite exciting. I also really liked the mystery as the men dig more into who the ghost is and what it wants. The supernatural side of things just comes together so well, with just the right amount of scary and enough depth to make it an engaging mystery.

    I also absolutely loved Blue and Levi together. Levi is generous and caring and you can’t help but root for him. He is still mourning his mother’s death, and having his long-time boyfriend cheat on him has really thrown him. When Levi realizes Blue is homeless, he doesn’t hesitate to invite him into his home. He is just so good and kind and sweet. But at the same time, Levi is a strong character who is brave and fights for others and for himself. This house is his dream, his chance to start over, and he is not about to roll over and give it all up to some vengeful ghost. Blue is one of those characters I totally love — a bit prickly with a mushy interior. He is sharp and self-sufficient and a little world weary from what life has brought his way. Blue hasn’t had an easy time of it and he has learned to become self-reliant by necessity. He tries to put up walls with Levi, but Levi is so kind and warm and loving, Blue finds himself unable to stay away. Deep down Blue needs that love and, in turn, he is willing to do anything for Levi. These men are so dedicated to each other that I got all the warm fuzzies from their romance.

    This wouldn’t be a Morton story without at least a little snark, and the balance here is so well done. The book doesn’t have the laugh out loud humor of many of her contemporaries, but there is plenty of banter and playfulness between the men that adds just the right dose of lightness. It helps to provide some lighter moments to balance out the scarier aspects of the ghost story. And the lighter interactions and witty exchanges also give some balance to keep the romance from being overly sweet.

    So I just loved everything about this book. The romance is lovely, the ghost story is thrilling and scary, and the mystery kept me fully engaged. I am thrilled to see that this book is marked first in a series, as I would love more stories for Levi and Blue. If you are looking for a great paranormal with just the right amount of heart, suspense, and humor, definitely check this one out.

    P.S. Can we just talk covers for a moment? I went crazy for this one and I love how well it captures Blue. So gorgeous! I will note for clarity that this is not a historical, despite Blue’s clothes (he dresses that way for his ghost tours).

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    Review: Mastering the Flames by S.J. Himes 2019 10 24
    Joyfully Jay
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    Rating: 4.75 stars
    Buy Links: 
     Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
    Length: Novel

    Isaac Salvatore has just completed treatment for alcohol addiction and is now trying to figure out who he is after years of drinking. So much of his life seems like a blur of alcohol, sex with the wrong people, and trying to quiet the guilt in his head from the deaths of his family. Now that he can see clearly again, Isaac is out of practice with his magic, trying to mend fences with his brother, and unsure what his life should look like going forward.

    Constantine Batiste is the City Master of Boston, an ancient and powerful vampire who traces his history back to ancient Gaul as the bastard son of a Celtic king. He is protective over his vampire family, and when two young vampires under his care are attacked, Constans calls upon Angel Salvatore for assistance. It gives him a chance to reconnect with Angel’s brother, Isaac, a man to whom Constans has long been drawn. While things were a bit rocky between them at the start, a connection begins to grow between the men now. Constans is patient and doting, careful of Isaac’s needs, while also giving him space to find himself. Constans’ support helps to ease Isaac’s transition into his new life.

    But even as Constans and Isaac are falling hard for one another, a dangerous predator is on the loose in Boston. It is connected to an ancient magic, magic that connects back to Constans and his transition to becoming a vampire. But tracking down who is behind the attacks is almost impossible, and the threats are getting ever closer to home. It will be a fight for their lives to overcome the ancient evil and stop a killer before it is too late.

    Mastering the Flames is the fourth book in S.J. Himes’ fabulous Beacon Hill Sorcerer series. While the book is first one to move away from Angel and Simeon as the main characters, the storylines and characters very much interconnect across the series, and you are going to want to have read the first three books before picking up this one. As I said, this story shifts focus from Angel and Simeon to Constans and Isaac. After three books focused on the same MCs, making this transition smoothly is critical, particularly as Simeon and Angel are such great characters and a reader favorite couple. I am happy to say, Himes does an amazing job here, both keeping continuity with the earlier books, as well as giving Isaac his own story and a chance at the spotlight out from his brother’s large shadow.

    It is clear from the start that Isaac is very much his own person, quite different from his headstrong and powerful brother. In some ways, it is like Isaac is just waking up after a long sleep; he is still very much coming to terms with who he is as a sober adult. Isaac is brave and a strong magical practitioner in his own right, but he is not interested in Angel’s life of being a leader in fighting the bad guys. Isaac’s story is much more about him finding himself and figuring out who he is and who he wants to be. And that process is aided by the love and support from Constans. There is a sweetness and a tenderness between the two men that I really enjoyed. Constans has a very old-world, gallant sort of vibe and he very much dotes on Isaac. At the same time, he respects Isaac’s independence and supports him in taking on challenges. Things didn’t go well when the men first met, but now they are coming together with a fresh perspective. I enjoyed getting to meet Constans as Isaac’s friend and lover, versus Constantine the vampire master and occasional foe of Angel. These men are super sweet and sexy together and Constans’ calm strength is the perfect balance for Isaac’s more tumultuous side.

    Where the story balances out so well is that while Isaac is clearly his own person, there is still a strong connection here to the overarching story and characters that have been a part of the last three books. Simeon and Angel play major roles, along with Daniel, Rory, and even Eroch. We are getting the events from Isaac and Constans’ points of view, but it still very much feels like the same story we have been following all along. I absolutely adore this ensemble cast and I enjoyed reconnecting with all of these characters. We see them all working together to fight the evil threat, and we begin to see how Isaac fits into the bigger picture. Again, Isaac isn’t all up in the fight all the time like Angel. Sometimes events happen off page because Isaac isn’t off investigating with Angel. And it really works perfectly, as we see Isaac figuring out his own place and his own strengths.

    In addition to present day, we also get some flashbacks to Constans’ mortal life and his ultimate transformation into a vampire. Himes does a nice job balancing these scenes and I never felt pulled out of the larger story. The background helps to form the foundation for what is happening in present day, and provides some interesting insight into the magic and the current threat, as well as background on Constans’ character.

    I’ll also add that we get to see more of Rory and Daniel together here and they are so delicious, I just can’t wait. I love how seemingly quiet and gentle Daniel has a fun, teasing side with Isaac. And I adore that he is a master porn connoisseur! Rory and Daniel’s book is coming up next and Himes gives us some intriguing set up for their story.

    So I really loved Mastering the Flames and thought it was a great addition to this fabulous series. If you enjoy urban fantasy, I can’t recommend this series more highly.

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    Book Review: Hunter (Brawlers #4) by J.M. Dabney October 23rd 2019
    Love Bytes Reviews
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    Reviewed by Becca   TITLE: Hunter SERIES: Brawlers #4 AUTHOR: J.M. Dabney PUBLISHER: Hostile Whispers Press LENGTH: 198 pages RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2018 2nd edition BLURB: Welcome to Brawlers Bar… If there was a way to destroy his life, Hunter Black could do it. He was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Survival was his […]

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