The Succubus’s Prize by Katee Robert


The Succubus’s Prize by Katee Robert
Publisher: Trinkets and Tales LLC
Genre: Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dicentra

Belladonna was born wrong. At least that’s what her parents, religious community, and even her beloved sister believe. Walking away from the church hasn’t helped her come to terms with her purpose in life, and when her sister is diagnosed with cancer, Belladonna has nowhere to turn…until a demon offers her a deal.

After agreeing, nothing is like she expects. There’s no fiery hell to speak of. Her soul seems to still be her own. All she’s required to do is serve. When she’s auctioned off to Rusalka, a powerful and ruthless succubus, her confusion only grows. Rusalka surprises her at every turn, even refusing to allow Belladonna to bear a child that would benefit the entirety of their territory.

Rusalka has sacrificed everything for their people. There are no lengths they won’t go to as leader…but they see something of themself in Belladonna, a familiarity that tempts beyond anything they could have dreamed. They want to keep her.

But if Belladonna can’t release her shame and step into a future where she’s living for herself instead of in service to others… Things may be over even before they begin.

I will basically read any romance books that Katee Robert writes with a fantasy element at this point, so it was a no-brainer that I picked up The Succubus’s Prize (fourth book in the A Deal with a Demon series) as soon as it was released through Kindle Unlimited. While the book maintains the author’s trademark spice and romance, she also does a great job bringing deep emotional scenes into such a short story.

If you’ve been following the series, you’ll know that bargainer demon Azazel brought five human women to the demon realm to be auctioned off to each territory’s leader in the hopes of brokering peace throughout the realm. A disclaimer for those who might not have followed the series: all of the humans made their deals of sound mind, got things out of the deal, and have protections in place such that they cannot be harmed by the respective territory leader. Some of the choices were random, however things worked a little differently for Rusalka, leader of the succubi and incubi as Azazel basically said you need to pick this specific human (Belladonna). Belladonna has been traumatized in the past, and Azazel felt that the succubi powers of sensing emotions would be the best fit to help her (compared to those of the gargoyles, kraken, or dragons). Despite that advantage, the two of them have a lot to work through before they can make true headway in the relationship (and hopefully have a child to strengthen the territory in the future).

Prior to the release of the book, the author made it clear on social media that the book deals with a lot of religious trauma. Belladonna was raised to believe she was bad because she was queer, and that she was only of value if she was of use to others. Even the deal Belladonna made that brought her to the demon realm was a sacrifice in service of someone else. Rusalka and the others in the Insomnior Court worked hard to gently get Belladonna to be more comfortable in expressing what she wants and coming out of the indoctrination her family overwhelmed her with. They also gave her the space to make sure what she was saying was what she wanted, even if they were unsure about it themselves. There were definitely some uncomfortable moments, but as a reader it was a great experience to get to see Belladonna’s journey of healing and growth. Things do feel like they end a bit abruptly given the length of the book, but I loved the epilogue and I hope we get to see more of these characters in the future.

If you’re looking for a quick monster romance book you can finish in an afternoon, this would be a great choice for you. However, if you’re looking for a longer romance tale, complete with extensive worldbuilding and more in-depth character development you might be better served looking at another title on the author’s backlist instead. We got more glimpses of Azazel and their relationship with Eve, so I’m super excited for when the final installment in the series The Demon’s Queen will come out in 2025.

Midnight Ruin by Katee Robert


Midnight Ruin by Katee Robert
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dicentra

Eurydice Dimitriou has always been the innocent sister, but she’s finally ready to step out of the long shadow cast by her powerful family…and the ex who shattered her heart. Perhaps rough hands on soft skin are exactly what she needs to forget her heartbreak once and for all?

Charon Ariti has been Hades’s right-hand man for years. He’s given everything to the lower city, but now he’s ready to take something for himself. He’s only too happy to give Eurydice a special kind of education…but is her heart really free enough to be claimed?

Orpheus Makos will do whatever it takes to make things right. Once the golden boy of the upper city, he’s now a shadow of his former self. He’ll do anything to get Eurydice back…even if it means she’s not coming into his arms alone. Three hearts. Three futures. Countless ways to get it wrong.

But with enemies slipping through Olympus’s faltering barrier to lay siege on the lower city, a trio of broken hearts will be the least of these would-be lovers’ worries…

Katee Robert’s next book in the Dark Olympus series, Midnight Ruin, was just as good as the previous installments. Focusing on Charon, Eurydice, and Orpheus in another very loose reimagining of the original Greek myths, the book takes place in the lower city (a.k.a. Hades’ domain) with the violence in Olympus coming to a fever pitch.

If you’ve been following along with the series, you’ll know that there are major forces at work trying to destabilize the city (and likely prepare it to be invaded). There is a major reveal in this book regarding who those forces are led by, and they make a major move to challenge the power players in the city (a.k.a. the Thirteen). I’m super excited to see where that goes, and how the eventual climax of the conflict plays out. The worldbuilding of each book in the series has been building off of each other; while the plots of each book are constructed such that one could theoretically read them out of order, I do recommend reading in order for the best experience (especially with the events that have been building since the third book in the series).

I really loved the growth and dynamics between our three main characters. Eurydice, unlike Helen/Ares, has been underestimated and babied her entire life. After Orpheus initially broke her heart with his actions, Charon was the one to help her put the pieces back together. However, neither Eurydice nor Orpheus were ready to give the other up as there were a lot of unresolved feelings there. It ends up becoming a polyamorous triangle where both men are in love with her (and eventually grow to love each other). As a reader, it was really enjoyable to see. And of course, as a reminder for those who may not have read a Katee Robert book before, I do want to warn you that the spiciness rating is very high and there are multiple explicit and intimate lovemaking scenes scattered throughout the book.

Overall, this was another excellent read that’s left me excited for more. After how this book ended, I can’t wait to read Ariadne and the Minotaur’s story in Dark Restraint when it comes out later this year. Audiobook narrators Alex Moorcock and Zara Hampton-Brown did an excellent job once again bringing multiple perspectives to life with the performances. If you love polyamorous love triangles (like the previous one in the series in Wicked Beauty) or any romance influenced by Greek mythology, you’ll enjoy this book.

CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, Murder, Blood, Guns, Pregnancy (not the heroine/main character), Abortion (not the heroine/main character)

Because of You by Fiona Brands


Because of You by Fiona Brands
Publisher: FriesenPress
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Liv and her best friends Travis and April have just started their last year of high school and things have gotten complicated—Liv has feelings for Travis, April is getting into trouble already, and Travis has a new girlfriend. But then Liv’s mom reveals a long-buried secret about Liv’s father, who took his own life when Liv was only two, and her life is turned totally upside down.

Reminded of unresolved trauma, Liv’s mom starts drinking heavily and Liv is haunted by the thought that her parents could have had good lives if they had never met. When Liv visits the antique shop of Travis’s grandpa, she discovers a grandfather clock they suspect can transport people back in time. As Liv’s life becomes increasingly chaotic, she’s forced to decide: will she travel back in time to stop her parents’ complicated relationship, or will she endure an uncertain future?

Whether platonic or romantic, love makes everything in life better.

I adored the close-knit friendships between Liv, Travis, and April. All three of them were kind and generous people who looked out for each other. Their banter made me smile, and I enjoyed seeing how they navigated their final year of school together as all three tried to figure out what the future might hold for them.

The pacing felt slow at times to me, especially in the first half of this novel. Based on the reference to time travel in the blurb, I was surprised to see so many chapters go by without a single mention of anything related to speculative fiction at all even though I later came to understand why the author made this choice. Some of the subplots also soaked up a lot of time in the beginning for reasons that I did not understand until much later or, in some cases, at all. The writing itself was nice, I simply felt that it could have been tightened up in the beginning so the characters could move on to the main conflict faster.

Most of the science fiction I read is harder and more definitive than this, so it was refreshing to see how lightly it was sprinkled into this tale. There were hints of it sprinkled here and there, but the majority of the scenes only contained moments that could happen in real life. This could be a good introduction to science fiction for readers who don’t generally read it because of that.

Because of You was heartwarming.

Fillion by Sean Michael


Fillion by Sean Michael
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Holiday
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Could the gift of a massage be exactly what Fillion needs to make this holiday his merriest ever?

Fillion Berry is a profitable bookshop owner, but his personal life is less successful. His Daddy left him on New Year’s last year and he’s been floundering. When his friend Chrissy discovers how bad things are getting, he enlists the help of his Daddy, Jerusalem, and together they cook up a plan to bring some holiday joy into Fillion’s life.

Spa owner Rome Aparny holds an auction every year to raise money for charity. When the highest bidder of a full-body massage gifts the item to Fillion with the note “for a lonely boy in need’, Rome thinks he knows exactly what that means and he arrives at Fillion’s store with his massage table, his oils, and the willingness to get to know Fillion better.

Could a little holiday magic turn Christian and Jerusalem’s matchmaking into a success? Find out in this Daddy Boys story.

Fillion owns a successful and prosperous bookshop, but his private life is quite the mess. After his Daddy and long-term partner left him on New Years the previous year, Fillion has struggled to recover from the loss. Fillion’s good friend, Christian, is blissfully happy with his own Daddy and relationship and when Fillion confides that he’s seriously unhappy and lonely, Christian is determined he and his Daddy should help. They purchase a private massage as a Christmas present for Fillion and quietly let the masseuse – Rome – know that he’s a boy looking for a Daddy, something that piques Rome’s interest immediately. Can this be a Christmas neither man will forget?

I found this to be a lovely and sweet short story. It’s part of a much larger series by multiple authors called “A Daddy for Christmas” but I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I haven’t read any of the others in the series. I found it still stood by itself very well. I really felt a connection to Fillion’s character. Owning a prosperous bookshop means for the most part he’s really got his head screwed on straight and I really liked that. I also was pleased that Rome had noticed Fillion at previous gatherings, but just assumed he was in a relationship with someone. That previous connection helped the situation feel a little less like insta-love and while in a story this short they obviously moved very quickly I did find it still worked well for me.

Readers should be aware that this short story doesn’t have a complicated plot or a long, slow drop into the relationship. The two men recognize what they want from each other and while they do ease into the intimacy it’s exceedingly fast and there isn’t a whole lot of other plot revolving around them. For such a short story I can understand and even enjoy this – but I can certainly understand some readers might want a bit more complexity and plot to their stories.

Fun and sexy, this would be a good introduction to some readers on the Daddy/boy lifestyle and also a good quick taste for this particular author and their style/tone of writing.

If We Were Stars by Eule Grey


If We Were Stars by Eule Grey
Publisher: NineStar Press
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ, Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The final countdown begins in three hours.

Blimey. The last thing Kurt wants is to wear a space helmet, and, no, they didn’t plan on saving the world either—Not before their eighteenth birthday anyway. Who’d have thought friending a lonely alien would lead to the Cape Canaveral launch pad.

Best friends since they were ten years old, Kurt O’Hara and Beast Harris tackle the typical teenage challenges together: pronouns, AWOL bodies, not to mention snogging. A long-distance relationship with an alien named Iuvenis is the least of their troubles.

Kurt loves programming, people-pleasing, and yellow dresses. Most of all, Kurt loves Beast.

Beast adores elephants, protest marches, and Kurt. Rules?—Nah. Humanity’s way down on Beast’s list of to-dos.

Beast and Kurt, Kurt and Beast. The end. Exactly how their love turns into a scene from Red Dwarf is anyone’s guess. Spaceships? NASA at the doorstep? No biggie. As long as they’re together, Kurt and Beast can survive anything.

Except, apparently, lift-off. Because nobody considered sensory issues, did they? Nope. NASA never made adjustments for neurodivergent astronauts. Unbelievable.

Will science be enough to blast Kurt and Beast—unlikely superheroes—into space to save the planet? Or will it take something much more extraordinary?

Neurodivergence is a gift.

Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that explored how autism affected Kurt and Beast’s lives in both positive and negative ways. It was interesting to read along as Kurt described their childhoods and how they struck a balance between finding ways to fit in when necessary while also remaining true to themselves. This is something everyone needs to learn how to do, of course, but it can be more challenging for people who stick out from the crowd and don’t always have an intuitive understanding of which rules to follow and which ones can be broken.

I struggled with the transition to a new narrator at the end of this book. Kurt was someone I enjoyed getting to know better, and their replacement didn’t have much time to become well-rounded due to how quickly they were introduced before the storyline began to wrap up. It was also disappointing to lose touch with Kurt just as they were about to meet the aliens and arguably have the biggest adventure of their lives, especially since earlier scenes had hinted that something tragic was about to occur.

The romantic subplot was nicely written. It fit into the themes of this tale seamlessly and made me hope that both of the characters involved in it would live happily ever after as they truly seemed like a great match for one another. This was a good example of how to include romance in a science fiction adventure in ways that enhanced both the science fiction and the adventurous elements of the plot.

If We Were Stars was a creative take on what it might be like to meet aliens.

The Convenient Roommate by E.C. Finnegan


The Convenient Roommate by E.C. Finnegan
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Romance, LGBTQ, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place…

After enduring a devastating betrayal, Fox finds himself in dire need of a fresh start and a new place to call home. When his loyal friend offers him a spare room in the house he shares with his charismatic brother, Fox cautiously accepts the invitation. Little does he know that this housing arrangement will ignite a flurry of unexpected emotions within him.

Caught off guard by a magnetic pull towards his friend’s older sibling, Fox battles with the fear of embarking on another vulnerable relationship. Despite his reservations, he soon realizes that there’s no escaping the undeniable chemistry that intertwines their lives.

As Fox navigates the intricacies of cohabitation, he discovers a bond beyond what he ever imagined. With shared moments of laughter, secrets exchanged, and tender gestures that hint at something more, can Fox find the courage to let go of his past heartbreak and embrace the tantalizing possibilities that lie with his conveniently attractive roommate?

It’s never too late to heal from the past.

The dialogue was realistic and entertaining. Given the difficult childhoods that both West and Fox experienced, it made total sense that their communication skills weren’t always particularly strong. This is something I’m sharing as a reader who is not generally a huge fan of plots that rely on miscommunications for conflict, but in this case, it worked perfectly for everyone involved given how much they had to hide their sexual orientations, among other things, in order to feel safe as kids. Honestly, I would have been shocked if either of them had emerged from childhood without these sorts of emotional scars. Including them enriched the storyline and made me want to keep reading.

I had trouble keeping track of many of the secondary characters. There wasn’t as much time spent describing their physical appearances, personalities, or interests as I would have preferred to see, so except for the two protagonists I struggled to form mental images of them that could have helped me remember who was who. This did improve once I was more than halfway through it, but it was still something that held me back from enjoying this as much as I would have liked to.

With that being said, I appreciated how slowly and organically the romance was allowed to unfold. The friends to lovers trope is one I already loved, and it was put to great use here. Fox and West both had excellent reasons for not rushing anything, especially given all of the other stuff going on in both of their lives that was rightfully taking up so much of their attention when they first met. In my opinion, romance novels are best to read when the characters in them already have full and satisfying lives before the slightest whiff of a new love interest is introduced. Kudos to the author for putting so much effort into this.

The Convenient Roommate had a fun premise.

Angelite by Rebecca Henry


Angelite by Rebecca Henry
Ambrosia Hill #5
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When love is broken and fate uncertain only truth can be found in angelite.

Zinnia’ s fifteen birthday is marked by her move to Ambrosia Hill with her mother Lily. After surviving a wicked Halloween with Ursula Geist and banishing the dark witch to the depth of Lake Cauldron, Lily decides Zinnia needs the protection and guidance of the aunts as she continues her journey as a green witch.

Zinnia’ s dream of moving back to Ambrosia Hill becomes a reality as she is reunited with Billie and is welcomed by the charmed volleyball team as their lucky number thirteen. Zinnia has everything she’ s ever wanted including a coven of witches to practice her green magic with. The Aunts as always, have tricks up their sleeves and prepare to host a surprise kale-pulling gala at Fern House to call forth Lily’ s true love.

Things seem perfect in the Fern House living on top of the tallest hill in a sleepy town until Zinnia meets the new girl, Scarlet at the kale-pulling gala. Scarlet is a ward living with the catholic nuns at Ambrosia Hill Episcopal Convent. Her uncanny beauty and charismatic charm soon win the attention of the charm volleyball team and most importantly, Billie. Zinnia is overcome with a fit of searing jealousy as Scarlet’ s presence emerges a darker side of Zinnia. Strange and unsettling happenings are reported in the town. Cows dry up overnight and a mysterious serpent is seen lurking in Ambrosia Hill, hiding within the tall grass, ready to strike. Zinnia fears she has been cursed when her fate line breaks in two on the palm of her right hand and Zinnia is forced to rely on her inner strength when magic fails her. But who can save Zinnia when she soon discovers that the monster in Ambrosia Hill this time is her?

Moving is an adventure.

I know I’ve mentioned the wonderful world building in all of my previous reviews of these books, but the author once again surprised me with new details. As someone who grew up in a few small towns, I smiled and nodded along as Billie introduced Zinnia to some interesting secrets about the community that Zinnia thought she already knew so well. It happens in real life sometimes, too, so of course it could also happen in fiction! Locals don’t always think to share everything right away with newcomers, especially when it comes to information that may be a little controversial or out of the ordinary. Kudos for the author for keeping me guessing.

With that being said, it would have been helpful to have more time spent exploring and developing the latest secrets of Ambrosia Hill. It wasn’t until the last 50 pages or so that I learned much of anything about them at all. While I know the author probably wanted to keep some things under wraps for the future, it was a little disappointing for me as a reader to have to wait until the end for even a few of my questions to be answered. It felt like there was a lot more that could have been done with these developments, and I would have happily gone with a five-star rating if they had either been introduced earlier or if several more chapters had been added on to explore what Zinnia thought of them and how they might change her life.

The character development was often slow in the first four Ambrosia Hills books, so I was glad to see it pick up here. Zinnia was given some great opportunities to deal with her jealousy and practice self-control when other people irrationally – or, in some cases, rationally – irritated her. Did she always make the most gracious life choices? Absolutely not, but that was a good thing. Everyone has bad days, and it was refreshing to observe how she behaved when she wasn’t her usually pretty calm and collected self. You can learn a lot from how someone behaves when they’re in a terrible mood, so I’m excited to see where Ms. Henry takes Zinnia and everyone closest to her from this point forward.

This is the fifth instalment in a series that I’d recommend reading in order due to all of the character and plot development that has already occurred in this universe, some of which the narrator assumes the reader already knows.

Angelite made me grin and wish for another adventure with Zinnia.

Knot Real by M.C. Roth


Knot Real by M.C. Roth
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

Vale will never have to worry about a mating contract, right?

Vale considers himself lucky that he’s exempt from having a mating contract. Why would any omega want thousands of alphas to bid on them and try to prove themselves worthy?

From his best friend Zyke to the cute omega he met at a house party—everyone’s lives seem to revolve around the search for a single mate. It’s simple… The alphas bid and the omegas make their choice, while protective instincts take care of the rest.

But the barbaric practice has its own beauty that will always be just out of reach for Vale. Maybe if he had a contract, he would find someone who would love him wholly and completely and he wouldn’t have to spend his time cherishing the last few days with his best friend before Zyke inevitably finds a mate of his own. Maybe he wouldn’t be so lonely…

Knot Real is a standalone as far as I can see, but I would love to return to this world and see further into how it works!

Vale and Zyke are best friends who everyone thinks are a couple. Vale is one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to have a mating contract, but he’s not looking forward to when Zyke has one in case it impacts their friends. Well, Zyke gets a contract, and it does have an impact, but maybe not in the way Vale was expecting!

This was a great story with plenty of emotion. It was pretty clear what the lay of the land was, but I enjoyed staying with Vale as he discovered the truth about the situation, Zyke’s feelings, and his own.

A quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed and have no hesitation in recommending.

The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood


The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood edited by Kayleigh Dobbs, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Wile E. Young
Publisher: French Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Horror
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

For all of human history ghosts were real and they were everywhere. Then, one day, after a horrible cataclysm, they all disappeared.

That was the story of THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE.

But there are more tales to be told from that world. And a thrilling lineup, ranging from horror legends to relative newcomers, have joined forces to bring you:

– a roadside attraction featuring a real, dead serial killer

– a pair of twisted sisters whose sibling rivalry only begins with suicide

– a hitman hired to facilitate a ghostly sexual liaison

And more!

The first unhaunted house was just the beginning. Come, stake your claim in…

THE PERFECTLY FINE NEIGHBORHOOD

If you love paranormal horror, I have quite the treat for you!

One of the biggest strengths of this anthology had to do with the wide variety of approaches the contributors took to the theme. A few of them were a little too gory for my tastes, but I still found their stories to be well written and memorable. Horror fans who love the bloody side of the genre may have completely different responses to them, of course, and I thought it was wonderful that so many different writing styles and horror subgenres were included to suit all sorts of readers. I wish I had space in this review to cover every tale, but I will have to limit myself to only speaking about three of them for the sake of brevity.

In “Jurisdiction,” Eddie and his fellow officers tried to figure out who or what had been killing ghosts. I thought the premise of this tale was a clever one, and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the conclusion. Eddie’s interest in this case overshadowed everything else in his life, including his relationship with his partner. This was an interesting way to realistically showcase some of the protagonist’s flaws while also keeping the pacing strong and steady until the final scene. I was left yearning for more and would love to read a sequel if Mr. Vincent ever decides to write one.

Thomas decided to kill his wife in “The Perfectly Fine Family” so that she could join him in his peaceful afterlife. Honestly, that was not a decision I would expect a ghost to make, so I was immediately sucked into his story as he planned out the ideal way to ensure he and Marie would be together forever. There was a surprising streak of humor in the storyline as well that suited the characters perfectly. Horror and humor should be mixed together more often in my opinion!

While I generally shy away from stories about serial killers, “Addict to Slaughter” had such a creative spin to the topic that I soon became insatiably curious to find out more about John Miller and his terrible compulsion to kill others. The twist showed up early and will probably be something most horror fans figure out early on. Knowing there is more to his life that meets the eye was all I needed to remain interested.

The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood was deliciously scary.

Smoke and Mirrors by Pelaam


Smoke and Mirrors by Pelaam
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Paranormal
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Two may be company, but four is pure magic.

Leo thinks he’s scored the scoop of a journalist’s lifetime when he secures an all-expenses paid trip to write in-depth articles on the magic act Three of Wands.

However, American billionaire and recluse, Paul, who commissioned the articles, isn’t all he seems, and soon Leo is plunged into a situation where things are not what they appear to be.

Leo falls in love with all three men of Three of Wands—Lucien, Xanto and Ahad—and they are equally keen to take him as their fourth.

When evil strikes Leo and Xanto, will even the combined powers of Lucien, Ahad and their familiar, Salem, be enough to save them?

When Leo sets out to interview the renown magic group Three of Wands, he thinks it’s going to be his big journalistic break. After all, who’d fly him all the way from New Zealand to the US if they didn’t think he could handle the job? However, he’s about to discover that the Three of Wands have more than his career in mind – like possibly the rest of his life? But when danger strikes, it’ll take all four of them working together to make it out alive.

Of all four, Leo was by far my favorite character. His attachment to his grandmother was sweet, and I enjoyed how he approached everything he was faced with. Even when he was nervous or afraid, he put himself out there, ready to face it head on. The way the Three of Wands took to him was fun as well, each welcoming him almost immediately into their group. Each magician is different from the other and their wildly varying personalities make their little group a joy. Leo fits right in, too.

However, there were a lot of things going on for such a short novella. At times, it made it hard for me to follow and keep track of who was doing what. There was also the issue of the tentacles. Which simply isn’t my thing, even if it did add an air of exoticness to the story.

Overall, Smoke and Mirrors was fast paced and exciting. The moments between the boys were smoking hot as well, making you eager for the next time they have a minute to be alone. Also, the addition of the mythological aspects was intriguing. I’d love to read more about where the four of them are now and what they’re doing with the magic show and, of course, each other.