Lydia Reviews: Sin and Tonic by Rhys Ford

Title: Sin and Tonic

Author: Rhys Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 270

Genre: Mystery, Series

Kisses:5+

Blurb:

Miki St. John believed happy endings only existed in fairy tales until his life took a few unexpected turns… and now he’s found his own.

His best friend, Damien, is back from the dead, and their new band, Crossroads Gin, is soaring up the charts. Miki’s got a solid, loving partner named Kane Morgan—an Inspector with SFPD whose enormous Irish family has embraced him as one of their own—and his dog, Dude, at his side.

It’s a pity someone’s trying to kill him.

Old loyalties and even older grudges emerge from Chinatown’s murky, mysterious past, and Miki struggles to deal with his dead mother’s abandonment, her secrets, and her brutal murder while he’s hunted by an enigmatic killer who may have ties to her.

The case lands in Kane’s lap, and he and Miki are caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. When Miki is forced to face his personal demons and the horrors of his childhood, only one thing is certain: the rock star and his cop are determined to fight for their future and survive the evils lurking in Miki’s past.

Review:

Sin and Tonic is the sixth and final book in the Sinners series by author Rhys Ford.  This book returns to the beginning with Miki and Kane as the MC’s and Miki’s past once again destroying his life.  When Edie, the band’s manager is approached regarding Miki’s mother she is shot during an exchange of information. The shooting messes with Miki’s head, especially since he is already having trouble adjusting to all the changes he has had to face over the last few years.

In my opinion, Ms. Ford always does a wonderful job developing a mystery that keeps the readers turning the pages, and Sin and Tonic is no different.  She pulls the readers back into the mystery of Miki’s birth and how he ended up on the streets and answers all the questions readers may have had.  There are a lot of twists and turns along the way. Some, the readers may see coming, and others that will surprise the reader.

Another aspect of Sin and Tonic that I enjoyed was seeing all the secondary characters come back, especially Donal and Brigid.  When Miki first met Kane’s parents he was unsure how to act or what to expect. Now as the years have passed, Miki has formed a tight bond with Donal, one that has him calling the older man Dad.  His relationship with Brigid, on the other hand, is still tense. In some ways this is understandable, yet I found myself feeling bad for Brigid. When Miki finally calls Brigid for help, I was as happy as she was.  There is also a change in Miki’s relationship with Damie. In many ways, this is understandable as their lives are following different paths with the loves of their lives. Yet, these two are brothers of the heart and will always find time for the other.

Finally, there is Miki and Kane.  These two have already been through so much and with the new threats to their lives, both men are worried.  But, where Kane is holding things together fighting to find out who is after his boyfriend, Miki is worried that Kane will finally reach the point of no return and break things off once and for all.  This fear leads Miki to act out in ways that are not normal for the young man and those around him are worried.

I sincerely hate seeing this series end.  From the beginning I found myself caring about all the characters, wanting to see them all get their happily ever afters.  The way Ms. Ford wraps up the series, however, is done in such a way that fans are sure to love it.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Tramps and Thieves by Rhys Ford

TITLE:  Murder and Mayhem, Book Two: Tramps and Thieves

Author: Rhys Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 210

Characters: Rook Stevens and Dante Montoya

POV:  3rd

Sub-Genre:  Mystery, Series

Kisses5+

Blurb:

Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.

Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder… and sleeping with Harold’s wife.

For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West LA detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.

When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time is not on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.

Review:

Tramps and Thieves is the second book in the Murder and Mayhem series.  This is a series that needs to be read in order, please keep that in mind when reading this review if you have not read the first book.

When the book opens it looks as if Rook is back to his old tricks and for a moment there I was a little worried.  I really loved how the author used this hook to pull the readers back into the world created for Rook and Dante.  As I said it looks as if Rook is honing his skills has a cat burglar but, unfortunately for Rook not only does he not find what he is looking for, he ends up finding his cousin, Harold, dead in his bed.  Of course, that is not the worst of it, as he becomes the prime suspect after the police show up.

Standing by Rook through everything is Dante.  I love the way Dante believes in Rook, never thinking for once that the young man could ever kill his cousin.  With all that is going on not once does Dante really worry about how things would go for him at work because of Rook.  While the relationship between Rook and Dante continues to grow, and their passion is intense, it is the mystery that will really hold the reader’s attention until the last page.

The Maltese Falcon plays a key role in this aspect of the story which makes sense given Rooks occupation.  There are a lot of twists and turns as well as a few surprises that will shock the readers.  There is a scene, that at one point about had me crying.

While the mystery is wrapped up in a way that readers are sure to enjoy, it was the finally pages of the story that I am sure will have many fans of the series talking.  Now we just need to wait patiently for book three.

Reviewed By: Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Hanging the Stars by Rhys Ford

Title: Hanging the Stars

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Author: Rhys Ford

Pages: 206

Kisses: 5

 Blurb:

Angel Daniels grew up hard, one step ahead of the law and always looking over his shoulder. A grifter’s son, he’d learned every con and trick in the book but ached for a normal life. Once out on his own, Angel returns to Half Moon Bay where he once found… and then lost… love.

Now, Angel’s life is a frantic mess of schedules and chaos. Between running his bakery and raising his troubled eleven-year-old half brother, Roman, Angel has a hectic but happy life. Then West Harris returns to Half Moon Bay and threatens to break Angel all over again by taking away the only home he and Rome ever had.

When they were young, Angel taught West how to love and laugh, but when Angel moved on, West locked his heart up and threw away the key. Older and hardened, West returns to Half Moon Bay and finds himself face-to-face with the man he’d lost. Now West is torn between killing Angel or holding him tight.

But rekindling their passionate relationship is jeopardized as someone wants one or both of them dead, and as the terrifying danger mounts, neither man knows if the menace will bring them together or forever tear them apart.

Review:

Hanging the Stars is the second book in Ms. Ford’s Half Moon Bay series.   This is the story of West, you remember him, he is Lang’s brother who just happens to be an ass.  Well in this story, which takes place two years after the end of Fish Stick Fridays, West has changed, some.  I love the way he is with Zig, the love he shows his niece is proof that he can’t be all that bad.  I also like that his and Lang’s relationship has improved as well.

The story also introduces several new characters, one of whom is our second main character, Angel.  There are many similarities between Angel and Deacon. Like Deacon, Angel grew up in a dysfunctional family.  When he was finally able to get away he had to start over with nothing.  Now he has a bakery that he loves, and manages a small run down motel that serves as a second chance location for those in need.  He also cares for his eleven-year-old brother who was dropped off one day by their father.   The relationship between the brothers is shaky but Angel his best.  Also like Deacon, Angel has a distrust of cops, something that comes into play during Hanging the Stars.

Where this story differs from Fish Stick Fridays is that West and Angel already know each other.  The two met years ago as teenagers.  The attraction between them was instant and the two fell in love before they knew it.  But they came from different backgrounds and where separated by parents who were only looking out for themselves.  Now, all their unresolved issues come to the surface when the two are forced back together.

West has plans for the motel, however, due to his grandmother’s will, Angel has a say as to what happens to it.  When Angel refuses to sell either the motel or bakery, someone decides to take matters into their own hands.  Soon things start to happen that leave both men wondering who is out to get them.  Then there is the chemistry that still exists between them.  Neither man is ready to start a relationship but they can’t seem to help it.  For them it is almost as if time hasn’t changed.  I liked that the two waste no time getting reacquainted, as well as clear the air with regards to their past.   I also like the connection that West forms with Angel’s brother, Roman.

This story has several twists and turns, as well as a few close calls that will leave the reader worried about what will happen next.    While one of the bad guys was easy to guess, the other was a bit of a surprise.  The destruction he leaves behind could have a lasting effect in West’s life.

I am a fan of Ms. Ford’s.  I love her many series and was sadden when some of them ended.  I would strongly recommend this series to anyone who has not yet tried it.  While it is not necessary to read the first book before reading this one I would suggest you do so anyway.

Reviewed by:  Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Absinthe of Malice by Rhys Ford


Title: Absinthe of Malice
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author: Rhys Ford
Pages: 200
Kisses: 5



Blurb:

We’re getting the band back together.
Those six words send a chill down Miki St. John’s spine, especially when they’re spoken with a nearly religious fervor by his brother-in-all-but-blood, Damien Mitchell. However, those words were nothing compared to what Damien says next.

And we’re going on tour.

When Crossroads Gin hits the road, Damien hopes it will draw them closer together. There’s something magical about being on tour, especially when traveling in a van with no roadies, managers, or lovers to act as a buffer. The band is already close, but Damien knows they can be more—brothers of sorts, bound not only by familial ties but by their intense love for music.

As they travel from gig to gig, the band is haunted by past mistakes and personal demons, but they forge on. For Miki, Damie, Forest, and Rafe, the stage is where they all truly come alive, and the music they play is as important to them as the air they breathe.

But those demons and troubles won’t leave them alone, and with every mile under their belts, the band faces its greatest challenge—overcoming their deepest flaws and not killing one another along the way.

Review:

Absinthe of Malice is book five in the Sinners series. This is a series that needs to be read in order as one book flows into the other. Like the other books in this series readers will find themselves drawn into the world the author has created.

With Sloe Ride, Miki and Damie once again have a band. In Absinthe of Malice the boys hit the road playing in bars around the country building up a name for themselves. I liked that the author used this book to catch the fans up on what has been going on with the boys and their partners. While I loved that we got to see the guys and their partners together during various points in the book it is the relationship between the band members that really play a part in the story. The author keeps things realistic as she shows that not everything goes as smoothly as Damie and the others hoped they would. But these bumps in the road help the boys grow as individuals and as a band. Both aspects that become important as the story goes on.

There is also a mystery woven throughout Absinthe of Malice that is full of twists and turns. The author asks that reviewers refrain from spoilers, so to keep from accidentally saying more than I should, let me just say this part of the story will keep you wondering what is going on. More than once I had to go back and re-read a section to make sure I was picking up on the connection that drew everything together.

There is some good news and bad news for Sinner fans. There is a sixth book still to come; however, it will also bring this series to an end. Thank God for hard drives so I can get my Sinner fix whenever a craving strikes.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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Lydia Reviews: Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford


Title: Dirty Heart
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 204
Sub-Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Series
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

Former LAPD detective Cole McGinnis’s life nearly ended the day his police partner and best friend Ben Pirelli emptied his service weapon into Cole and his then-lover, Rick. Since Ben turned his gun on himself, Cole thought he’d never find out why Ben tried to destroy him.

Years later, Cole has stitched himself back together. Now a private investigator and in love with Jae-Min Kim, a Korean-American photographer he met on a previous case, Cole’s life is back on track—until he discovers Jeff Rollins, a disgraced cop and his first partner, has resurfaced and appears to be working on the wrong side of the law.

As much as Cole’s fought to put the past behind him, he’s soon tangled up in a web of lies, violence, and death. Jeff Rollins is not only trying to kill Cole’s loved ones, he is also scraping open old wounds and long-forgotten memories of the two men Cole loved and lost. Cole is sure Rollins knows why Ben ruined all their lives, but he isn’t looking for answers. Now Cole is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a cold-blooded killer with the key to not only his past but his future.

Review:

Dirty Heart is the last story in the A Cole McGinnis Mystery series. This is a series that must be read in order so please keep that in mind before reading this review.

Cole’s and Jae-Min’s have put most of their pasts behind them and are happy with the family they have created with Cole’s brothers, sister in law, Bobby, Scarlet, and of course Claudia. Jae-Min is still doing his photography and going to areas that making Cole a little nervous, while Cole’s PI career is going strong, with a little help from Bobby. The love between the two men is as strong as ever, and their passion heats up the pages. So of course you know this means things are about to go to s**t.

Like all the other books in this series, Dirty Heart is full of action right from the start. The mystery that is woven throughout this story is so layered that it will keep you guessing. The secrets that are revealed along the way had me worried for Cole and Jae-Min more than once as I read. And, as fans of this series know the author likes to throw in more than a few OMG moments.

There are several points in the book that I loved. The connection between Cole and Jae-Min is stronger than ever and I loved watching them interact. I also love the relationship that Cole has with Bobby. More than once I found myself laughing when these two were together. One of my favorite parts of Dirty Heart, and in fact the whole series, is the way the author opens each book. I remember reading somewhere that the sign of a good book is when the author hooks you with the first paragraph. Ms. Ford has done that time and time again. After reading Dirty Heart, I don’t think I will look at clowns the same way again.

When I received this book I knew that it was the last in the series. While I hated to see it end I was okay with that fact knowing I could always go back and re-read the series at a later date. However, when I reached the last page I was not as ready to accept the fact that there will be no more books coming. If you have not yet given this series, or the author, a chance I strongly suggest you do so.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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Alison Reviews: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford


Title: Black Dog Blues
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 246 pages
Characters: Kai Gracen & sidhe Lord Ryder
POV: First Person
Sub-Genre: Speculative Fiction / Post Apocalyptic
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.

It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.

But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.

Review:

Black Dog Blues follows Kai Gracen, a man who looks elfin but feels human, in a time only a few decades after the Earth and the Elfin planes have become one. Many humans still hate the sidhe for the war that followed the merge, and the strange creatures that came with it, but Kai makes a reasonable living hunting the more vicious beasts. He might not be happy but he is content with his lot, especially since he knows from personal experience his life could be a lot worse.

I really loved this book, and couldn’t put it down. It is one of those that, twelve hours later, I still feel. The world is complex, full of undercurrents, and the characters fascinating. I actually did a little chair dance when I checked the publisher page for the blurb this morning and discovered the author intends the book to be the first in a series.

If you enjoy reading fantasy or urban fantasy, or stories about characters with shadowy pasts, survivors, post-apocalyptics, or action, then this is one is definitely for you. I will give you warning, if you are looking for on-page sex you won’t find any as this book is primarily a speculative fiction tale, but to be honest, on-page sex would probably have dulled the impact of the story.

I haven’t read any stories by this author before, and I am now going to rectify that. Please, if it even remotely looks like something you might be interested in, get it. You won’t be sorry.

Reviewed By: Alison

Click HERE to enter the DSP Publications Website

Lydia Reviews: Sloe Ride by Rhys Ford


Title: Sloe Ride
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author: Rhys Ford
Pages: 246
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

It isn’t easy being a Morgan. Especially when dead bodies start piling up and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

Quinn Morgan never quite fit into the family mold. He dreamed of a life with books instead of badges and knowledge instead of law—and a life with Rafe Andrade, his older brothers’ bad boy friend and the man who broke his very young heart

Rafe Andrade returned home to lick his wounds following his ejection from the band he helped form. A recovering drug addict, Rafe spends his time wallowing in guilt, until he finds himself faced with his original addiction, Quinn Morgan—the reason he fled the city in the first place.

When Rafe hears the Sinners are looking for a bassist, it’s a chance to redeem himself, but as a crazed murderer draws closer to Quinn, Rafe’s willing to sacrifice everything—including himself—to keep his quixotic Morgan safe and sound.

Review:

Ms. Ford is one of those authors that are able to pull her readers in from the very first page. Once you have read one of her books you will devour her backlist. Her latest story, Sloe Ride continues the Sinners Gin storyline. The band has been slowly trying to rebuild but they are missing one vital piece, a bass player to round them out. Rafe wants that position but is afraid to try for it. Having fallen from grace, Rafe knows he has a lot to proof, not only to himself but to others as well. I love that the author makes Rafe’s struggle so realistic. His fears of failing, or of falling back into his old patterns, are exactly the way someone struggling with drug addiction would go through.

As for Quinn, he is the Morgan oddball. Unable to really bond with his family he has always felt like an outsider. The one exception has always been Rafe. The fact that he has a safe spot in Rafe is big, and I like that while the author makes that known, it does not become a crutch for Quinn. I also like that she brings these two back together in a way that makes it seem as if they have always been a couple, one that recognizes the faults in their partner and accepts them anyway.

Sloe Ride is not only about the men’s relationship, as the author has once again woven a mystery into the story that will hold the reader’s attention until the last page. There are a lot of twists in the mystery and many times I thought I had it figured out, just to be proven wrong. When the mystery came to an end, I was surprised by who the guilty party was.

Of course since Quinn is the killer’s target, the Morgan’s show up in force. That means the readers will have the pleasure of seeing Brigid again. This is one tough Irish momma. The love she gives to all her “children” is over the top. I love the way she drives poor Miki crazy, and the scene between him and Quinn at the hospital had me crying.

By all rights now that the band is together it would be understandable if the author was to call this series finished, however, there are several Morgans still out there and I would love to see them get their own stories.

Reviewed by: Lydia

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