Deadly Curiosities (Deadly Curiosities #1) by Gail Z. Martin

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, a store with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670 – acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. 
When a trip to a haunted hotel unearths a statue steeped in malevolent power, and a string of murders draws a trail to the abandoned old Navy yard, Cassidy and Sorren discover a diabolical plot to unleash a supernatural onslaught on their city. 
It’s time for Kincaide and her team to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

I suppose I introduced myself to this world created by Gail Z. Martin/Morgan Brice a little backwards. (For the record, that’s not an usual thing for me…) Although this is the first book in the Deadly Curiosities series, it was not my first introduction to Teag, Sorren or Cassidy. Aside from the fact that I listened to the audio version of this book a few months ago and have read several books/series written under Morgan Brice, I also read Trifles & Folly 1 and Trifles & Folly 2, which are collections of short stories that fit between the full length books in the series. About time I officially start from the beginning, don’t you think?

The mystery builds in Deadly Curiosities as it becomes obvious that there’s a connection between seemingly unrelated items. It’s up to Teag, Sorren and Cassidy to figure out what that connection is before whatever or whoever’s behind it gets even more dangerous. They end up calling in reinforcements with the own set of unique talents.

I love the premise of this series. Each of the characters brings something unique to their “side” business and Charleston is the perfect setting. The relationship between the characters is much more than a business one, it’s more like family. There’s action, danger, demons, ghosts, magic and a vampire – what’s not to love?

Although my precarious relationship with audio books is getting better, after reading the ebook version of Deadly Curiosities, I realized that there was a lot that I missed or maybe didn’t retained when I listened. *sigh* That’s not a reflection on the audio version at all, because I actually liked the narration. So please don’t hesitate to pick it up if audio is your preference 😉

Unholy (Witchbane #5) by Morgan Brice

A cycle of ritual murders. A coven of dark warlocks, drawing their immortality from the magic of their dead master. Two men sworn to stop the deaths, destroy the warlocks, and avenge the victims. Except this time, the killer flips the script. 
Seth Tanner swore vengeance on the dark witches who killed his brother, Jesse. He rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is still new, tested at every turn by danger and magic. 
Seth and Evan head to Charleston to stop the next warlock and save his intended victim. But this time, they’re too late. The warlock has already powered up, and he’s determined to destroy the two hunters one way or another. A deadly curse on Seth and Evan means time is running out. Can they find a way to turn the tables, or is Charleston their final destination? 

Seth started out his battle against the dark warlocks on his own, but that changed once he rescued Evan. Even though the hunt to destroy the warlocks and save the sacrifices put them both in danger, it was easier than doing it alone. They both found out along the way that there is strength in numbers. This time, they needed all the strength they could get from allies both new and familiar. The next warlock was one step ahead of them. Not only did he beat them to his sacrifice, he found their greatest weakness – keeping them apart.

There was little or no down time in Unholy, which made it a pretty quick read. I think that this may have been my favorite book in the series so far. Honestly, that may have been because of all the crossover characters that were included in this story. Their trip to Charleston brought them to Cassidy, Teag and Sorren (Deadly Curiosities). Seth and Evan had called on them for help before, but this was the first time they had met in person. It also brought them face to face with “people” they were used to fighting instead of trusting. Needless to say, the new experiences, wrapping their heads around a new reality and the constant danger kept the pages turning.

I adore this world that Morgan Brice/Gail Z. Martin has created. It’s especially fun when the series characters cross over and their was obviously quite a bit of that in Unholy. If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy you can pretty much start anywhere in any of the series in this intertwined world.

Burn (Witchbane #1.5) by Morgan Brice

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse. 
Seth uncovers a cycle of ritual murders that feed the witch-disciples’ power, and he saves Evan Malone, one of the warlock’s potential victims. Neither Seth nor Evan expected to fall in love, but when the dust settles, they find themselves on the run and on the road together, heading toward Pittsburgh, on the trail of the next killer. 
Seth wonders whether Evan will come to regret his choice to stay together, now that he’s living the reality of Seth’s nomadic life and the risks that come with it. He wants Evan to stay, but he’s afraid that Evan would be better off without him, living a normal life. Evan’s whole world has been upended, but there’s one thing he’s sure of, his love for Seth. Evan worries that he’s a liability, not yet able to hold his own in Seth’s rough-and-tumble world, but determined to do whatever necessary to have Seth’s back. On the way to face the next warlock, supernatural threats abound, forcing them to learn to fight as a team. 
Fate and danger threw them together. But once the adrenaline fades, will love last? 

In true “Creative Deeds Reads” fashion, I somehow missed this book. By the time I realized my mistake I had already read both Dark Rivers and Flame and Ash. Yikes! Burn was a nice reminder of how new things really were between Evan and Seth, so I guess it wasn’t too much of a blunder on my part. 😉

Burn takes place right after the events in Witchbane. Even though Evan was thrown head first into the supernatural world in Richmond, he had no idea exactly how extensive that world was. Burn was kind of like an initiation. A lot happened in this story and the events tested both Evan and Seth and their new relationship. Evan spent time proving himself and Seth spent time hoping the reality of dealing with everything didn’t scare Evan away. They both had something to prove and they didn’t always handle things perfectly.

Burn was the perfect transition story for the Witchbane series. Both men learned a lot about themselves and each other. It also built on the world that this series is centered around – and touched on characters from other series the are a part of the same world. Next up for me is Unholy, the 4th book in the Witchbane series (if you consider Burn 1.5).

Haven (Magic Emporium) by Morgan Brice

Old secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.
A series of long-ago disappearances leads cold case private detective Austin Williams to investigate a troubled sanitarium.
Jamie Miller is new in town, temporarily running the local historical association, and he willingly signs on to help solve Austin’s mystery.
Sparks fly between them as they dig into the hospital’s troubled past. But someone wants the past to stay buried—and is willing to bury Austin and Jamie to keep it that way.

Haven is part of the multi-author Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains explicit scenes and a guaranteed HEA.

I have to admit, Haven is the only book that I’ve read in the Magic Emporium series. Since it’s a multi-author series with only one element of connection, it can definitely can be read as a stand alone. That one element was intriguing though and after taking a glance at the rest of the authors included in the mix, I have a feeling I’ll be checking out at least some of the rest of the offerings included in Magic Emporium. 😉

Jamie and Austin were both characters who were easy to like. They both had secrets that they were hesitant to reveal to each other, but those secrets made more alike than they realized. They also made them the perfect team to solve the more dangerous secrets that the town was hiding.

There was plenty of action, danger, spookiness and romance to keep the pages turning in Haven. There were also some familiar characters for those readers who have read the Fox Hollow series and other Morgan Brice books. Just enough to give new readers a taste or what they’ve been missing and give long time readers a chance to re-visit familiar locations and characters. Which kind of makes me think that readers haven’t seen the last of Jamie and Austin 😉

Loose Ends (Badlands #3) by Morgan Brice

Cold cases, old enemies, ex-lovers, and vengeful spirits are making life dangerous for psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato. The ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless, trapped by love, secrets, scandals, and spells, keeping Simon busy protecting the living from the unhappy dead. Someone from Vic’s past is out to destroy him and everyone he holds dear, and the high-profile trial of the first case Simon and Vic worked together puts them in the spotlight—and put a target on their backs. As a deadly trap closes around them, can Simon and Vic tie up the loose ends to stop the threat, or will they become the newest ghosts of the Grand Strand?  

Gah! I am so far behind – so pardon the almost back to back series reviews while I play a serious game of catch up!

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Vic and Simon more, Loose Ends comes along and blows me away. I don’t want to give anything away, but a lot of what happens in this book would have torn a less “seasoned” couple apart. Their love and trust in each other was a huge part of Loose Ends. The love and support of both their friends and family were also an important element in this story.

Speaking of family, readers as well as Vic got a true taste of Simon’s family ties. Let’s just say I am not a fan of Simon’s mother. On the flip side, I fell in love with Vic’s mother all over again. I’m really glad that there’s a balance in this story and Simon gets to see and experience a mother’s true love. ❤

As if trying to figure out exactly what Simon’s ex and his mother were up to weren’t enough, Vic had to discover how to stop a dangerous act of revenge from destroying everyone he held close. There was little time for romance, but faced with loosing everything, their commitment and love for each other was never far from either of their minds.

The Rising (Badlands #2) by Morgan Brice

A big storm is brewing, there’s a killer on the loose, and the ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless. Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his sexy cop boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato have their hands full helping the Grand Strand brace for rough surf, driving rain, and high winds as a winter storm roars toward shore. 
Everyone’s on edge, and rumors are rampant about sightings of Blackcoat Benny, a ghostly omen of danger, and worse, the Gallows Nine, the spirits of nine infamous criminals hanged back in the 1700s, a harbinger of disaster. Rough tides wash the wreck of an old pirate ship into shallow waters, high winds threaten to damage an old mansion with a dark past, and the citizens of the beach town hunker down to ride out the storm. 
As the skies grow dark and the sea turns wild, several men from prominent local families end up dead under suspicious circumstances. Simon’s premonition confirms Vic’s gut feeling—the killing is just getting started. As Simon tries to reach out to the spirits of the murdered men to help the investigation, he’s attacked by malicious ghosts that don’t want anyone getting in the way of their long-overdue vengeance. 
With the storm hammering the coast, and new victims piling up, Simon is certain that the sins and secrets of the past are coming due, and that the murders have a supernatural link. Vic and Simon race to stop the murders against an unholy deadline, but as they battle rising tides and risen ghosts, can they save the intended victims without getting trapped themselves? 

I’ve read several books/series by Morgan Brice and I love them all, but I think that Simon and Vic are probably my favorite couple. For the record, Badlands is also set in my favorite locale… but that’s probably because it’s familiar. I always consider it a bonus when a story’s setting is either a location or a type of location that I can clearly “see” even more than the author describes as I read.

The Rising was intense. Not only did Simon and Vic have to fight against vengeful ghosts and the people that they had connected themselves to, but mother nature threw them another curve with an impending storm. Which spirits used to their advantage. There was little or no down time and danger seemed to be lurking around every corner.

I think one of the things that I like most about Simon and Vic is their growing trust for each other. Especially since both of them had experienced the opposite from others. I also like the depiction of ghosts or spirits as being not inherently evil, but sometimes even helpful and protective. Simon and Vic also surround themselves with good friends as well as family who have their backs whether they’re near or far.

One of the other things that I enjoy about a lot of books in this world are the ties to other books in the Brice/Martin world. As for Badlands in general, I love the way that this series is progressing and I can’t wait to pick up the next one. 😉

Lucky Town (Badlands #1.5) by Morgan Brice

Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his boyfriend, Myrtle Beach homicide detective Vic D’Amato, find that the only thing more frightening than murder might be navigating their first holiday season as a couple. 
A trip back to Pittsburgh to spend Thanksgiving with Vic’s large, exuberant family means dodging old frenemies and a bitter ex-boyfriend. A cold case comes back to haunt Vic when a murdered woman’s ghost begs Simon for justice. Then a new murder back in Myrtle Beach looks suspiciously familiar, and the dead man’s ghost isn’t playing nice. When Simon gets a vision of the next victim before the crime occurs, he realizes that all the murders are supernaturally linked. Catching the murderer will take his psychic sleuthing skills along with Vic’s street smarts to avert a tragedy. Can they do right by ghosts past, present and yet-to-come without ending up in the crosshairs of a killer for Christmas? 

It’s been a while since I read Badlands, the first book in Vic and Simon’s series, but it didn’t take me long to get back into their story. It also didn’t take me long to remember why I think they’re one of my favorite couples in this intertwined world created by Martin/Brice. 😉

Lucky Town may be considered a novella (a little over 100 pages) but a lot happens. Readers are not only treated to getting to know Vic and Simon a little bit better, they also get to meet Vic’s larger than life family. A family that welcomes Simon, much to his relief. There are others from Vic’s past, including the “bitter ex” that make it easy to see why Vic had no problem leaving Pittsburgh behind – despite the fact that he misses his family.

Lucky Town brought together connections from other series and drew Vic further into the supernatural world. It also opened his eyes to more of the power and magic that Simon possesses. I can’t wait to continue this series and other series in this world. The Rising is next in the Badlands series and it’s also next on my TBR pile 😉

Imaginary Lover (Beyond the Realm: Remember #8) Fox Hollow Universe by Morgan Brice

“There’s no time. Remember your imaginary lover….”
Cory Caldwell woke up by the side of the road with no memory of how he got there. He pieces together who he is but has no idea what happened to him.
Dark visions haunt him—flashes of blood, magic, and a brutal fight. Scorching dreams of a faceless lover offer no clues. His gut warns that something urgent is eluding him, and that time is running out. Worse is the sense of bone-deep grief, as if Cory is missing part of his soul.
Desperate for answers, he hops a bus for Fox Hollow, a town famous for psychics, mediums, and those with supernatural abilities. Then a stranger calls Cory by name and casts a furtive glance around him. “There’s no time,” the man says. “I need your help. Remember…” Can Cory unlock his missing memories and rescue the stranger before it’s too late?

Imaginary Lover is full of dangerous magic, hurt/comfort, brave monster hunters, dark curses, sincere psychics, found family, and forever love.
Imaginary Lover is the eighth book in the multi-author series, Beyond the Realm: Remember. Each book is set in its own world and can be read as a standalone novel. Join eight authors on eight very different, romantic, and magical stories as each one writes their own take on the same concept.

Although Imaginary Lover is part of the Beyond the Realm: Remember collection, I didn’t pick up any of the other books. The main reason that I decided to pick it up was because it had close ties to Morgan Brice’s multi-book universe. I really enjoy this world that she’s tied together and I was hoping to to reconnect with some of those characters. For the record, even though most of the characters were merely mentioned, I wasn’t disappointed. 😉

Cory finds himself in a situation that forces him to trust total strangers for a huge part of this story. As he pieces his life together, he discovers just how important his Imaginary Lover is to him and knows that he will do pretty much anything to get him back. There are plenty of people who are willing to help and support him to make it happen and keep them safe in the process.

Imaginary Lover was fairly short, but it wasn’t lacking. There was plenty of danger, suspense as well as love, devotion and even heartbreak. Just enough to make me realize how much I miss these characters and the world they dwell within. If you haven’t read any of the previous books, you can start here. If you like what you read, you should consider checking out Badlands, Witchbane, Treasure Trail, or Fox Hollow Zodiac – where Imaginary Lover takes place. I’m planning on picking up at least one or two myself. 😉

Flame and Ash (Witchbane #3) by Morgan Brice

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse.
Seth rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is new, their emotions are raw, and the danger is real. It’s a challenge to find their way as a couple while they’re on the road together in the close quarters of Seth’s RV, training in magic and combat skills to fight off a supernatural killer.
In pursuit of the next witch-disciple, Seth and Evan team up with older hunters Milo and Toby as their quest to stop a century-long killing spree takes them to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re ahead of the sacrifice cycle, with plans to stop the murders and kill the dark witch. Only this time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

I fall in love with this series with each new book. Although, I have to say, as much as I love Seth and Evan, one of my favorite aspects since Witchbane are the supporting characters. Flame and Ash was most definitely no exception. That’s especially true since Milo and Toby were the closest thing to family that Seth had. Getting to know Milo and Toby added another layer to Seth’s back story that readers got to learn about right along with Evan.

Evan was nervous about officially meeting Seth’s mentors, but he shouldn’t have been. Milo and Toby already knew that Evan was good for Seth. He had been a loaner long enough. He needed someone who had his back and supported him. Someone who was closer than a phone call away. Someone who helped him concentrate on more than the witch-disciples they were chasing.

In Flame and Ash, Evan and Seth thought that they were ahead of the game, but they were wrong. The witch-disciple was ready and waiting for them and they had to try to get ahead of the game again.

Flame and Ash added another layer to the Witchbane series. With each book Evan and Seth get closer, the danger gets more intense and their skills become more honed. I can’t wait until the next installment.

 

Dark Rivers (Witchbane #2) by Morgan Brice

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse.
Seth Tanner uncovers the cycle of ritual killings that feeds the power of the witch-disciples, and he’s hell bent on getting vengeance for Jesse and stopping the murders. His fledgling romantic relationship with Evan Malone complicates his mission, but Seth can’t walk away. Seth and Evan are learning to navigate their partnership—as lovers and monster hunters—while they chase down the next witch-disciple and avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention.
When the hunt takes Seth and Evan to Pittsburgh on the trail of the next killer, they’ll have to save the intended victim and take down the powerful witch. If the skills they possess and the bond between them isn’t enough, the evil will remain unchallenged, and more people will die…
Note: Includes mention of past domestic violence and stalking.

I am so glad that I stumbled across this author (more on that at the end of this review.) Witchbane, the first book in this series, had me wanting more and Dark Rivers didn’t disappoint – in fact it gave me more than I expected. 😉

Even though Seth and Evan’s relationship is just beginning, it’s stronger than either of them have ever experienced. Seth pulled him into a world that Evan didn’t know existed, but he was always unknowingly a part of. That was a lot to take in, but neither one of them had time to analyze the situation, they needed to stay ahead of the next disciple.

There was a lot going on in Dark Rivers. More than enough action to keep the pages turning, some heated moments between Seth and Evan (and not always between the sheets 😉 ) The couple was tested more than once from more than one source. I pretty much loved every minute of it. Honestly, the only complaint that I had – which was minor – was that there seemed to be a lot of going over what happened in Witchbane. I think that may have been just a “me” thing though, mainly because not a lot of time passed between me reading Witchbane and Dark Rivers. If it had been a longer time span, I might have even found it helpful.

One of my favorite aspects of Dark Rivers may have been the supporting characters. Seth was used to doing things on his own, until he met Evan. In Dark Rivers, they found themselves needing even more help. They had depended on long distance assistance before from other “monster hunters” and “specialists” but this time they needed physical help – whether they wanted it or not. Turns out, their “help” came in the form of characters from another series – that I quite accidentally discovered – by Gail Z. Martin. Yep, Travis and Brent have their very own series – Night Vigil. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t realize that little bit of info until I started Sons of Darkness (which should probably be read before Dark Rivers, but oh well – not the first time I put the “cart before the horse” and I’m sure it won’t be the last.) There are even more connections between these and a couple more series and books (Spells, Salt, & Steel & Badlands) and you know what that means…. I get to read ALL the books. 😉