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KUSHIEL’S AVATAR by Jacqueline Carey

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It’s inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel’s dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre’s path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve. 

But Phèdre’s plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land … and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.


Title : Kushiel’s Avatar
Author : Jacqueline Carey
Series : Phèdre’s Trilogy (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 750
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Tor Fantasy
Release Date : March 14 2004

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’m going to complain a bit about repetition in this series, and most of it seemed to be in this final book (which I guess makes sense as it’s the culmination of this particular series), but here’s my own bit of repeat-y nonsense : the plot for this one came back to me as I read it. Maybe it’s like songs on the radio. You might not hear it for a decade, or think of it in that span of time, but with the sound of the melody, the lyrics are unearthed from within your brain and you can sing along. I guess it’s like that. I’ll stop assuming I have no recollection of things going forward. Here’s hoping Imriel’s Trilogy is likewise buried in my brain somewhere, too. But if not? Hey, bonus, I get to experience it a-new.

Overall, though, this was maybe not the best series to binge. Carey does a good job of weaving in past events, dynamics, and more, multiple times within her books, likely because the page count is so massive that it’s understandable you would forget things along the way. But if you’re reading these ceaselessly, one after the other, by the third one? You’re a bit tired. Not helped by the fact that even if the locales differ, it is a bit samesies in the sense that Phèdre risks all, endures all, poor Joscelin is along for the ride (because vows), they usually have a falling out (some worse, or more dramatic, than others), but eventually all is well. Queen gets mad, Queen forgives, here is your HEA. In that sense, this was the least interesting of the three because there was no real tension, we knew how things would play out almost exactly, which explains why I put this down the most of all three of them, but. But I still picked it back up.

I’ll admit I did skim some of the more story-based mythology as Phèdre traveled from one place to the next seeking knowledge, the Name of God, to rescue her childhood friend. It was a change of pace from the darkness and violence that we had endured prior but equally it did make for an odd balance of a story. But I think that is kind of represented by the whole series. Sex, and violence, and pain, yes, but also religion, and mythology, and learning, and knowledge. It’s a complex and layered universe Carey’s created and you can’t say she didn’t put in the work, and the endless research, in and around the more angsty romantic titilating bits. But even those have purpose. Even in the violence there’s reason and understanding and it’s.. well, it’s a lot.

I will definitely be pushing on with the various series but I am not sad to be taking a break, mayhap even for the rest of the year (little that remains of it). This isn’t a series, or a universe, I could really recommend but it does compel in some ways. It is interesting. And yes, layered, in every way. I don’t want to doubt my younger self but I wonder how much of this I really understand back in the day. But whatever it was, it left an impression because here I am all these years later rereading them. And I’m not mad about it.

This also completes the final series on my Five Series to Finish in 2022 list. Phew. This one was a close call.

SHADOWFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

“Evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it’s good.” — MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever. — Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister’s murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh — a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.

Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master’s penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac’s journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world . . . or destroy it


Title : Shadowfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 617
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Dell
Release Date : January 18, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2.5 (but rounded up) star review

Despite chomping at the bit back in June, after all the good intentions my buddy and I had to read (more or less..) one of these a month, here we are.. six months later. Whoops? We had the best of intentions but life, y’know?

For me, I was anticipating this book like crazy. Not only because of that intense cliffhanger in book four but this is the book I remember going cuckoo for cocoa puffs over. It wasn’t that I hadn’t loved the first four but book five stood out in my memory. Because so much happens. And, true to that memory, it does. A lot goes on in this book. And, thankfully unlike the last one, things aren’t rushed, Moning lets them breathe a bit with that sizeable jump in page count. And yet, weirdly, maybe we had too much time?

The pacing was a little off in this one. I almost missed the chaotic headlong rush from one action scene to another. Because this was easy to put down, to hope maybe we’ve skipped along by the time I’d picked it back up, as if it was a movie playing on in my absence. There were still some really good parts, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t hold me in thrall like it once had.

Where the book did succeed, a hundred percent? The red herrings. The lead up to how Mac was connected to everything was really good. I’ll admit the whole dreaming of the Cold Place her whole life thing felt a little bit like an afterthought to make it work along the way (unless they were reeeaaally subtle and I missed them but I’m thinking no) but I thought everything else was too good to give it too much side eye. Also, for those keeping track we’re now at Mac 5.0 and she was basically the meme of the goth girl and her sparkly pink sister side by side but instead mixed together in a blender. Or something. I have vague memories that Mac’s identity issues don’t continue to be so wrapped up in her outfits going forward but I have a feeling that’s just wishful thinking.

Also, speaking of lead up, I think I loved the psych-out moment about how Mac’s sister actually died a lot more this time. Moning did a good job making things a lot more than they seemed and therefore a lot more emotionally and morally complex. Also, on a related note, thank christ Rowena is finally dead. She has a character who had long outstayed her welcome and truthfully she was too much an evil villain caricature which didn’t fit considering how layered and complex all the other dark siders are, so. That was lame from start to finish.

Next up, Barrons and his men. We finally get a little understanding of that whole mystery (I remembered learning a lot more, maybe that’s to come?) and his motivations for wanting Mac’s help with the book. And truthfully I had completely forgotten this and I fell a liiiiittle in love with him for it. As much as I’ve enjoyed his character this second time around — even if the alpha male on steroids thing isn’t totally my jam anymore so therefore I’m not quite gagging for him the same way — and his secrets, and honestly I do love the dynamic he has with Mac despite, well, despite Mac sometimes, the words-without-words conversations got hella old hella fast in this one. I would be a lot more in love with his ability to finish her sentences or answer questions she has if it happened a lot less infrequently. As is.. just have a damn conversation people!

Now that the main Fever arc is over and we’re heading into where things (as far as I recall..) get weird(er), I do have a little trepidation over the whole Dani thing. I had definitely expected one event to happen in this book but it didn’t so that’s still to come. However, in some ways, I am looking forward to what happens to her because she is not really written all that well. Between the fecks and the weird obsession with her virginity and her mail blasts and more it’s just a little tiring. I just hope the whole switchover lands a little better than I remember it doing.

Seeing as my buddy and I hoped to have finished this series by the end of 2022, I have no idea when the rest of the series will be conquered but look forward (I guess..?) to more of these in the new year!



KUSHIEL’S CHOSEN by Jacqueline Carey

Mighty Kushiel, of rod and weal
Late of the brazen portals
With blood-tipp’d dart a wound unhealed
Pricks the eyen of chosen mortals

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.

When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren’t far off the mark.

The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre’s brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown… and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.


Title : Kushiel’s Chosen
Author : Jacqueline Carey
Series : Phèdre’s Trilogy (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 678
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Tor Fantasy
Release Date : April 6, 2002

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

As I said in my review for my reread of book one, I couldn’t actually think of where the story went next. I thought everything I had remembered was contained to book one. But, like has happened before, once I was in this instalment.. it did start to come back. Not all, but some. Having said that, I imagine that’ll be my experience for book three, too, because from here.. I don’t know what comes next. Maybe I’ll remember that one, maybe I won’t. It’s just funny to experience the “nothing nothing noth– oh, wait, here we go” switch.

Now, the question for book one was whether the enjoyment was nostalgia or not and actually in hindsight I don’t think it was the latter. I do think that’s a strong book, with adventure times and romance and intrigue, and this one has much of that as well but somehow didn’t quite land the same way. At least not until closer to the end where things were juicier and the confrontations that had been building for hundreds of pages finally happened.

Part of this feeling could also be attributed to the fact that our lovebirds are at odds and then separated for the majority of this. While I thought their wee confessions in book one kind of out of sync with events, this time? This time their reunion, their feels, everything was perfect. Which I guess means it was worth them going through all those horrid motions up until that point.

And speaking of motions.. the whole Melisande/Phèdre thing perplexes my adult brain. Like, I get it but I don’t get it. And I have to think that ends in book three, though at this time I cannot remember, but like talk about a toxic dynamic and I want to be free of it. But as much as it makes me want to pull a Phèdre and smash my head against the wall, I do have to admire the powerplays and countermoves between these two women. I know this book isn’t that old but it is ancient as far as modern publishing is concerned and I do love that Carey made this main conflict between two women and gave it so many complex layers.

Actually, much of what Carey did, starting with book one, seem to differ much from a lot of fantasy that was written at the time. And even, sadly, up until recently. I couldn’t have predicted how this series would hold up but, again, despite some of the content (which you’ll either run with or run away from), it doesn’t seem to stumble over a lot of the pitfalls of the time. Or, again, it’s nostalgia leaving me blind to them (I will do some review reading once I’m done the third book). This isn’t really a series I would push on anyone but hey, if it sounds like you’re thing and you have time for an epic (or three..), why not try it out.

KUSHIEL’S DART by Jacqueline Carey

When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me.

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair…and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart – a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new. 


Title : Kushiel’s Dart
Author : Jacqueline Carey
Series : Phèdre’s Trilogy (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 901
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Tor Fantasy
Release Date : June 23, 2001

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 4 star review

Like with so many of my rereads, where my intention is to go back so I can complete a series, I’ve come to realize that most of what I remember, and think happens over the course of more than one book (usually the first two), in fact all happens in the first book. I’m certain I read all three of this first saga in the Kushiel Universe, and GR even tells I read on (though more and more I doubt that), but considering all that I did remember has already come to pass, well. We know memory is a funny thing; and mine is particularly chockfull of holes.

But anyway. Did I enjoy this because of the nostalgia or did I enjoy it because it’s just good? Who can even say! I’ll admit the whole way the story was told, with Phèdre clearly retelling events, with little sneaky references to things to come or things unknown at the time, can be done well and make things exciting and compelling. And it’s not that this one wasn’t but.. I don’t know. I can’t say those little references added to the telling, or even encouraged me to push on to the next chapter, and the next. I just enjoyed the intrigue, the suspense, the politics, all of it, enough to find it hard to put down — this only took me two nights to read and at over nine hundred pages that says a lot. Even for a speedy reader like myself.

I will say that if you expect a straight forward romance with a side of fantasy, or fantasy with a side of romance, this isn’t it. There is a lot of sex, though very few scenes actually have any kind of graphic content — and more often than not things are implied instead of spelled out — but due to who Phèdre is, a courtesan with a connection to a specific god/religious patron who deals in pain with pleasure in equal measure, well.. that’s not for everyone. Additionally, she gets herself into less than ideal circumstances (on multiple occasions) and is forced to into various situations; sometimes against her will, sometimes fully consenting but just.. intense, and because of both I can see why some readers did a hard nope.

The people of this world are all loosely based on familiar cultures and places (you might spy French, Romani, Vikings, Irish, and more) and there’s a religious/mythology element at play, too, and while most lean into pretty typical stereotypes, it does allow you to ease into things with some semblance of, well, ease. But despite those stereotypes, we spend enough time with each group (lots of travel, some of it quest-y) that Carey actually offers layers to the individuals we spend time with; making everyone, even those on the side of the “villains”, more than just their intended archetype.

Overall, this feels a little like a folklore-y and parred down Game of Thrones sans dragons. Having said that, I get the criticisms about this book (this series) and think it’ll definitely be one that works for you or doesn’t. For once, shockingly, I could turn my brain off to some of the bits that might have otherwise bothered me and just enjoy the ride. Let’s hope that continues!

CRY WOLF by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.

After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.

When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.

The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good. 


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 269
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : January 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So when I read initially this “finale”, I was so confused because it was an end but it wasn’t the end, you know? Which made reading it now, knowing there’s a spinoff, and knowing why it is shifting POVs, far more satisfying — not that I wasn’t initially happy with how this went! But it just lands better, knowing there’s more to come.. and what that might look like.

Is everyone you’ve ever dated an asshole?
Maybe I have a type.

Also, I think I maybe understood things a little better. I have a tendency to inhale books, read them compulsively quickly, and maybe I did that when I finally got my grubby mitts on this book the first time around. Because things have settled in my brain a little more and I like where we might yet see things go, particularly in a certain Moon-like direction.

You know, it’s never too late to call off this engagement. You’re a catch, you’ll find someone.
I was cursed by an old witch to find him charming.
That’s some dark magic.

Obviously there isn’t much I can say, even for a non-ending end like this book, but this had all the fun and swoons and feels and investigative hijinks as the previous books but in this case, specifically, the stakes are a little higher. But there wasn’t any need for artificial tension of drama because what drives those stakes, at least from Cooper’s POV (which is all we have), is.. meaningless. Or hard to grasp. Somewhere in there. Which makes it all kind of funny actually. And not at all typical for the genre. Again.

Also, [Eli] said to tell you you’ve been demoted to fourth rank.
We don’t do ranks. We’re not pirates. Fourth?
[The cat] took third already.

As mentioned before, Adhara really likes to mess around with expectations within paranormal/urban fantasy reads and I enjoy that immensely. But I also love that in a genre so highly saturated, this really does stand out. Because of the world, sure, but the characters. Even beyond Cooper and Park, there’s Eli, the other bureau agents, Cooper’s family, the cat (Boogie is best!), and more. 

Why did you reveal yourself to us in the first place?
Yes, I can see now that was my mistake. To be brutally honest with you, I thought Cooper had recognized me. But I’m beginning to understand this whole glaring, staring, nostril-flaring thing is less ‘I know that wolf’ and more of a permanent feature of his face.
Well, he’s not wrong.”

I can’t wait to see what new or familiar (and both) faces we get in the spinoff with Eli to come (out August thirtieth!) and I’m really excited to explore more of his backstory. As much as I love Cooper, and Park, their dynamic, their banter, and everything they’ve endured and earned over the course of their series, I’m excited for a new dose of freshness to this world and to shift (tee hee) into a new POV. 

WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, Oliver Park, are going undercover—at a retreat for couples who need counselling. They do say the best cover story is one that’s close to the truth…

Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.

With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.

The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.

With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.


Title : Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book four)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 323
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : March 2, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Oh hey, another review I can cannibalize for my benefit! 

What the hell about him had Park seen and thought, Oh yes, anxiety-ridden loner with a temper sharper than a serpent’s tongue and a deep-seated fear of change whose longest successful relationship is with an equally judgmental cat? Swoon.

Our couple has come so far by the time book four in this paranormal shifter series rolls around. They’ve settled into life together, come to terms with most (all?) of the secrets and tragic backstories, and have successfully navigated a few sticky situations related to being in a werewolf-human relationship. But this relationship is still half Cooper, after all. 

Why does it feel like all our cases send us to the gloomiest places off the map?
High altitudes, high crime rates?
One day, we’ll get assigned to a nice, sunny beach murder. And it will be wonderful.
What nice, normal goals you have.

The excuse for this particular adventure, going undercover at a couple’s counselling retreat for werewolves, was genius. Who doesn’t love the ‘pretend relationship’ trope except it’s even juicier when they are in a relationship and get forced to work through some things. Delicious. But so much of the counselling element of this story, the various topics discussed, the trust, the trauma, it was all done so well. And so smoothly; nothing felt shoehorned in, which is how it could’ve easily gone a) for the sake of drama and angst but also b) to find time around the actual mystery of the story. But no, the balance was there.

Cooper felt oddly exhausted and tender this morning. Was this what talking about feelings for an hour did to a person? What a nightmare.

Also, I liked how Adhara introduced another element for the shifters in such a natural way. It seems to happen in each book, the total opposite of an info dump, and always relevant for the moment, not for a ‘maybe in the future you need to know this’, and it’s so perfect. The worldbuilding is so fabulous and so natural, so subtle. 

What I probably did notice on my first read but don’t seem to have mentioned in my reviews is how Adhara continually subverts some of the expected tropes in these kinds of stories/series. I don’t really want to say how, not only because of spoilers, but because it’s a delight to watch unfold. So keep your eyes peeled. 

Also, this is what I always refer to, in my head, as the hug book. Because there is a hug that just puts so many other intimate scenes to shame. Curious how? Read these books! Really, I’m just throwing out all the reasons, trying to find that one sweet spot, that’ll convince you to do so. Let me know when I nail it.

THROWN TO THE WOLVES by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton is going to meet his boyfriend’s werewolf family. Unarmed. On their turf.

And he’s bringing his cat.

When Agent Cooper Dayton agreed to attend the funeral for Oliver Park’s grandfather, he didn’t know what he was getting into. Turns out, the deceased was the alpha of the most powerful werewolf pack on the eastern seaboard. And his death is highly suspicious. Regardless, Cooper is determined to love and support Park the way Park has been there for him.

But Park left him woefully unprepared for the wolf pack politics and etiquette. Rival packs? A seating order at the dinner table? A mysterious figure named the Shepherd? The worst is that Park didn’t tell his family one key thing about Cooper. Cooper feels two steps behind, and reticent Park is no help.

There are plenty of pack members eager to open up about Park and why Cooper is wrong for him. Their stories make Cooper wonder if he’s holding Park back. But there’s no time to get into it…as lethal tranquilizer darts start to fly, Cooper needs to solve the mystery of the alpha’s death and fight for the man he loves—all before someone else dies.


Title : Thrown to the Wolves
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 263
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : April 1, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

For the first time in this reread I get to take advantage of an unexpected joy : stealing parts of an already-written review from GR and getting to do a little less work for a review. Win!

Thrown to the Wolves is a perfect title for this one because both Cooper, and the reader, are well.. thrown to the wolves. This was the first time we actually got some real shifter action. And I don’t mean that in a pervy way. Up until book three, the shifter element was kind of background noise, even if the protagonists worked for a shifter-friendly/focused organization to police and investigate supernatural peoples and events. But book three throws us right into the politics, the families, and the fur, appropriately enough, goes flying.

I suppose you know why I’ve asked you out here.
Um, to tell me my engagement to your nephew, Mr Darcy, is impossible?

This book, as one expects (hopes?), had the most solid foundation for Ollie and Cooper. And as a result I loved them so much more than I ever have. Cooper is still a bit neurotic and twitchy but his internal voice, his concerns, are so much more.. stable. His observations, everything about him, felt more mature. More grounded. He’s secure in his relationship and that makes him more secure in himself. It was so nice to experience, so nice to see, so of course things fuck it all up. –> this is where I really started to appreciate Cooper the first time around but, as I’ve been saying all throughout this reread, he’s so much easier (for me) to love with hindsight. 

What am I supposed to be doing on this hike? Trying to start a.. a..
Investigation?
Threesome?
Okay. We’re obviously not a couple that should be trying to finish each other’s sentences.

Nonetheless, I loved both the story, the progression of their relationship, and their professional one, too. Cooper makes some big changes as a result of his deeper understanding of the world he now inhabits and I really loved that growth and understanding. On a less serious note, the sprinkling of humour that has been present in this series felt stronger in this one (so many lol moments) and aside from one weird roleplay sexytime (which culminated in a great great moment, not in a dirty way, stop side eyeing me!) I also thought the intimate moments were topnotch. Not just because it was hot but because it felt like an extension of the scene, the moment, the emotion. 

I love you. Really love you. I mean it.
That’s awkward, ’cause I’ve just been joking this whole time.

This book featured so many milestones both in the world and in Cooper and Park’s relationship. And it had the added bonus of breaking down so many barriers which, with the benefit of knowing what’s to come, makes for the perfect transition into the setting for book four.

Also, shoutout to the tiny reference that only Canadians might understand, when one character describes another as the “jewelry store commercial guy”. I died.

While I did add to and jazz this up a bit, additional shoutout to 2019-me for writing an excellently timeless review. I’m a fan.

THE WOLF AT BAY by Charlie Adhara

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.

When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.

The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.


Title : The Wolf at Bay
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 262
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Once again, I sit here shaking my head a bit. Past me was having such a struggle bus time with Cooper. Current me? J’adore.

Also, this one got me reaaaallly in my feels. Woof.

So book two in this instalment continues the trend of being the least paranormal-paranormal series ever (thus far). While it’s obviously built into the world, but limited to those in the know, it really just is a procedural sprinkled with an extra something-something. And in this case the procedural takes a trip home.

Cooper finds himself bringing Park to visit his family — not as a boyfriend but just as a coworker and partner. But when they discover a body buried on Papa Cooper’s property, well. Suddenly they are the ones under investigation. And it brings all sorts of secrets to light. Whilst simultaneously forcing Cooper to unearth and stare hard at his feelings for Park and what it might mean for their future.

So, yeah, I mentioned feels? There were two big scenes that got me. One was between Cooper and his dad. And the other was between our main men. The hotel scene? Yeah.. you know the one. 

When I think back on this series there are two books that stand out to me : the third and fourth, for two different reasons. The next book is a favourite because it was where, in the past, I had turned the corner and fell absolutely in love with this series. The fourth is because that book is pretty much perfection. So I’m so excited to pick up the third and see whether the reread bumps that one up, too (also, worth noting, I’m pretty sure we meet the star of Adhara’s upcoming spinoff in this third book. So that’s exciting, too!). 

Why I was so stingy or so reluctant to love these back then.. well, yes, again, I know why. Cooper. I’m just so happy it’s not going that way on this second go round. I needed this. 

THE WOLF AT THE DOOR by Charlie Adhara

A former FBI agent is partnered with the enemy in this suspenseful male/male shifter romance from debut author Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.

Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.

When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.


Title : The Wolf at the Door
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m so happy to be back in this world I could cry. Also I’m so happy to be reading something that I’m enjoying. Rereads can be risky but I knew (okay, hoped) this would go well. But I’m even happier to be able to say I enjoyed this even more the second time — which, I mean, was kind of a gimme as I only (for some reason!) rated this a three the first go around. And okay fine, I know why. Cooper.

Cooper’s our only POV and he’s a little prickly and is even affectionately referred to as a porcupine. And clearly his prickliness was a factor that worked against his favour on my initial read. Now? Now I just love him to bits. Possibly the benefit of hindsight.. but also possibly not because I know many of my friends did not struggle with him the way I did.

He was starting to wonder if Park bothered to argue with anyone. Not because he seemed like a doormat but because he had been beyond even-tempered all day. An almost annoyingly laid-back, Zen sort of person who didn’t so much as avoid confrontation as he seemed uninterested in it entirely. Bored by it, even. There was something about that kind of self-control that simultaneously drew Cooper and made him want to break it.

But aNyWaYs. What’s this about, you ask? It’s a queer paranormal investigative series. Werewolves are the particular flavour here and they are also.. partially out of the closet. In a way. A select group are aware of their existence and thus have created an offshoot of the FBI to help manage any issues that come up, as well as investigate in cases of supernatural crime or worse. Which is where Cooper comes in. A particular brush with said supernatural had him making the change from FBI to BSI and, when the agency’s reputation starts to sour and their PR takes a hit, Cooper is paired up with Park — a representative of the Trust, which is basically the werewolf equivalent of the BSI as well as the ruling/governing body — to try and ease tensions and promote teamwork and unity. And boy does it ever.. sorta. Eventually. Maybe.

Should’ve known you were a cat person.”
Why, because I don’t like you?”
Because you’re an antisocial asshole.

Investigations, mysteries, and hijinks ensue! Also sPaRKs.

I loved watching these two interact. The hesitancy, the lack of trust, the occasional glimmers of banter and respect, and then how they would have to start all over again when inevitably someone (Cooper) would mess it all up. It was extra fun watching Park be so amused by it all — when he wasn’t nursing a pout or legitimately (and adorably? I don’t know, it was sad but cute) wounded feelings. 

So many things make this series different but one of those biggest differences was how this focused more on the procedural element than the supernatural. I actually loved that. I loved so much. And in fact, I’m going to shut up and just recommend you pick this up. Find out for yourself why there’s so much love for this world and these characters. Do it! I dare you.

DREAMFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane lies naked on the cold stone floor of a church, at the mercy of the erotic Fae master she once swore to kill. Far from home, unable to control her sexual hungers, MacKayla is now fully under the Lord Master’s spell.…In New York Timesbestselling author Karen Marie Moning’s stunning new novel, the walls between human and Fae worlds have come crashing down. And as Mac fights for survival on Dublin’s battle-scarred streets, she will embark on the darkest—and most erotically charged—adventure of her life. 

He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister’s murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted sidhe-seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac’s every thought—and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust. 

As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V’lane vie for her body and soul, as cryptic entries from her sister’s diary mysteriously appear and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac’s greatest enemy delivers a final challenge.…

It’s an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth—about herself and her sister, about Jericho Barrons…and about the world she thought she knew. 


Title : Dreamfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book four)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 498
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Dell
Release Date : August 25, 2009

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I mean.. in a lot of ways we know what that horrible cliffhanger reveals but still that one hurts. Worse than the last one! 

Overall, I think I expected to love this instalment more than I did. It has a lot of good juicy excellent bits, both character and plot wise, but I felt it to be strangely rushed along. Some moments got some of their due but others..? Others I think needed a lot more. 

What has been consistent, though, as I’ve said in probably all these reread reviews, is the presence of the usual side-eye towards Mac’s inner voice. We get less of that this time considering what she’s just survived and how she’s pretty much fully Mac 4.0 (whatever that means beyond wearing leather and caring less about pink, also, did we skip 3.0?) now. And honestly you sort’ve just have to lean into it or step around it, whatever works best. But the other consistency? The other consistency is for the times where there are these lovely passages full of wisdom, truth, grief, and hope. And they usually pop out when you least expect them. 

Also, as I was reading, I was picking up on foreshadowing for something (well, a few somethings!) I had completely forgotten about. As I said to my buddy reader, it’s so funny what the mind chooses to remember and otherwise completely deletes from the brain. Hoo boy. 

The author’s note at the end of this book, fourth in the Fever series, goes on to say how book five is the end of the journey. But we know that’s not true. It is, however, where I do recall the story started to shift.. and maybe go downhill?

I had such a good time chatting about this one with my buddy (shoutout to Hayley!) and we’re both really chomping at the bit to pick up where this left off and see what reveals await us (remembered and not) in the “final” of Mac’s story arc.