Author: Morgan Brice
Page/Word Count: 296 pages
Categories: Gay Romance, Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: Darkwind Press
Cover Artist: Natania Barron
Simon Kincaide owns a boardwalk shop in Myrtle Beach where he runs ghost tours & does seances and private psychic readings, a fresh start after his abilities cost him his lover and his job as a folklore professor. Jaded cop Vic D’Amato saw something supernatural he couldn’t explain during a shootout several years ago in Pittsburgh and relocated to Myrtle Beach to leave the past behind, still skeptical about the paranormal. But when the search for a serial killer hits a dead end, Vic battles his skepticism to ask Simon for help. As the body count rises, Simon’s involvement makes him a target, and a suspect. But Simon can’t say no, even if it costs him his life and heart.
“Bikes are a big deal here,” Simon said to fill the pause. “I’m always amazed at how many come through for Bike Week.” Several major motorcycle events each summer turned the Grand Strand into a cavalcade of the hottest cycles on the coast.
Cop Dude shrugged. “I always liked Born to Run. Springsteen fan. What can I say?”
“Sir?” the voice called from the counter, making Simon turn away. “You’re next.” Simon had never been less happy to get to the front of the line.
“I’ll have a Dread Pirate Roberts,” he mumbled, not wanting to look like an idiot to the guy he was trying to impress. He handed over the money, took his change as she rang him up, dropped a one dollar bill in the tip jar, and moved down the counter to wait for his drink.
“I’ll try that, too,” the cop said, flashing him a grin. “What the hell? Live life on the edge.”
Le Miz baristas were fast. Simon knew he needed to come up with a way to extend the conversation without looking like a creeper or lose the connection, maybe forever. Just as the barista handed both of them their drinks, a deafening thunderclap sounded, rattling the windows, and the rain came pouring down.
“Want to grab a table?” Simon asked, nervous enough that his throat felt tight. “We’ll drown if we go out there now.”
“Sure. Why not.”
Simon led the way through the crowded outer room where the tables were all taken to the back room where there was once a display of pirate doubloons and recovered sunken treasures. The room kept its murals of sailing ships and scruffy pirates, along with the odds and ends left behind by the previous owners—a beat-up old chest, a pirate mannequin everyone called “Mo” and a bedraggled stuffed parrot on a perch, dubbed “Percy” by Le Miz regulars.
“You must come here a lot to know there’s a second room.”
“Told you, I take my coffee very seriously,” Simon teased as he sat down. “I’m Simon, by the way.”
“Vic,” the man replied. “So what’s in this mystery drink?”
“Do you like the smell?” Simon asked.
Vic leaned over his cup, took a deep breath, and his eyes fluttered almost closed. Simon’s heart did a little samba, instantly imagining what Vic would look like blissed out and debauched after sweaty sex. Simon’s erection strained at the fly of his jeans, and he was insanely glad they were seated at a table where Vic couldn’t see how aroused he was.
“Good?” Simon asked, hating that he sounded a little breathless.
“Yeah,” Vic replied, with a little moan that made Simon painfully hard.
“Glad I could turn you on to a good thing,” Simon replied, hoping he hadn’t read the signals wrong since he was blatantly flirting.
“Much obliged,” Vic replied, and maybe it was Simon’s imagination that the man’s voice dropped a little lower, a bit huskier, than before.
“You’ve been here before, you said?” Simon asked, finding that his pick-up skills were as woefully rusty as his ability to make polite chit-chat.
“A few times,” Vic replied. “I haven’t gotten to the boardwalk as much as I’d like.”
“I try not to overdo the special coffees,” Simon said with a self-conscious smile. “I know the sugar adds up. But you’ve got to do something to make yourself feel good now and then, right?” Oh lord, that sounded really bad. I can’t believe I said that.
A wicked twinkle came into Vic’s eyes. “I’m all for feeling good,” he replied, and his foot bumped into Simon’s beneath the table.
It’s just his foot. Doesn’t mean anything. Could have been an accident,Simon told himself, but Vic didn’t move away, and Simon hoped his smile looked encouraging instead of merely nervous.
“So are you in town for business or pleasure?” Simon asked, and cringed internally. What’s wrong with me? I’m never smooth, but I didn’t used to be this awful at picking up a date.“I mean, are you a local or just visiting?”
Vic’s full, sensuous lips quirked in a smile. “Neither,” he replied.
Simon tried and failed at not staring at his lips and imagining them around his cock. Get a grip!Shit, that only changed the mental image to a hand job. So not working! Don’t fuck this up.That didn’t help at all.
“Moved here not too long ago, so I don’t feel quite like a local, but definitely not a tourist,” Vic added.
“You can still take in the sights, even if you live here. Most people don’t take time to enjoy what’s in their backyards. I’d love to show you some of my favorite spots.” Oh, just shoot me now. That sounded like the worst line from a cheap porno. I totally suck at this. No, don’t think about sucking…
“Sounds fun,” Vic said, and Simon was so lost in his embarrassment that he almost missed it.
“You would?” he asked, then cleared his throat. “I mean, that’s great,” he failed miserably to cover his awkward reply. Simon was just about to ask for Vic’s number when Vic’s phone went off.
The ringtone sounded odd, and Vic’s manner shifted in the blink of an eye, going from casual and relaxed to tense and alert. “I’ve got to take this,” he said, without even glancing at the number. “I’m sorry. It’s work. Confidential—need to step away.” With that, he got up and headed toward the service corridor that went toward the men’s room, taking his coffee with him.
4✨s – Hot nerdy medium meets hot macho cop. Add in a crazy mystery, tons of chemistry and an incredible set of secondary characters kept me reading late into the night! Fast-paced storyline and well-drawn characters, Brice creates a world that is funny and warm. With a story steeped in the paranormal (my favorite!) Badlands has a little something for everyone.
What keeps it from being five stars? Not enough depth in the romance. I’m a sucker for insta-love, but even with the chemistry I didn’t feel the why. So much angsty woe is me, felt affected. The actual wrap up of the mystery was just meh. The single tied up in a bow reason gave the answer but was far from satisfactory.
I would enjoy seeing more in this world, more of Simon and Vic and all of their friends and family. The background of Myrtle Beach is a vibrant backdrop that would add some real drama to any future stories. Definitely recommend this book.
4✨s – I’ve read a ton of books from the genre and this one didn’t disappoint. Simon and Vic were very well crafted characters. They both had depth and substance to them. I really loved Simon’s personality and how comfortable he was with himself. I loved the conflict that the author created for Vic. His struggle with himself in regards to his feelings about Simon’s “talents” felt very real and truthful. The mystery aspect of the story was interesting and well done. It wasn’t predictably written. The story kept my attention from beginning to end and didn’t feel like something I had read before. I really liked the atmosphere the author created for their characters. This is the first book of this authors that I have read but it definitely won’t be the last.
About Morgan Brice:
Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions.
Morgan Brice will be a Supporting Author at Gay Romantic Lit convention and a Hosting Author at RomCon in October.
Where to find Morgan Brice:
Enter to win one of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Cards: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6f12da1552/
This contest is hosted by the author and/or promotional company, and Jessie G Books does not have access to any data collected as a result.