This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: M/M Romance, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on March 12, 2019
Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
A psychic who has the key to dreadful events, a skeptical yet dedicated police detective, and a serial killer with his own agenda on the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand sounded just the thing for a suspenseful, paranormal romance from a new to me author and narrator.
Badlands is the start to a series and introduced a psychic shop owner, Simon Kincade, and police detective Vic D’Amato when a serial killer starts killing the temp and seasonal workers along Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand. The chemistry is good and they both anticipate getting to know one another better until Simon learns Vic is a skeptic and Vic learns Simon believes in the ‘woowoo’ of ghostly visitations. But, in spite of their rocky start, they both tentatively give the other a chance even though with each killing, Simon looks more and more like perp than innocent. Soon the serial killer turns his sights on Simon and they must outwit someone more powerful than the average human before it’s too late.
Badlands is one that I have mixed feelings about.
The set up was all systems go for me with the twisting murder plot involving ghostly witnesses and magical aid along with the internal conflict this pair face as they attempt a relationship. I left out a lot in my summary, but they have both been burned by past relationships and psychic gifts were at the heart of both those pasts so they have a lot to overcome. It was fascinating learning the darker side behind the Myrtle Beach Tourist and hospitality industry. I loved all that part and loved the colorful, well-drawn cast of characters particularly Simon and Vic.
What got to me was the prevalent remarks that occurred a few dozen times about the police. Everyone in this book had the idea that either the police were doing nothing because the deaths were low-paid foreigners or people living on the fringes or, the police wouldn’t use what they knew so why tell them anything. It got really old because, for a bunch of people who were supposedly scared or cared, they sure were willing to sit back and do nothing, but criticize, clamming up when the police interviewed them or showed them drawings of a suspect- you know, working that case they were supposedly not working….
What got me frustrated was that Simon, who was hearing all this, could have set them straight that Vic and his partner were working overtime on the case and Vic was desperate enough to get the killer that he went to a psychic when he doesn’t even believe. Simon bemoans to his friend, Tracy, about wanting Vic to stand up for him before others when it came to his psychic talent (which, btw, Vic did stand up for him), but this shows he wasn’t willing to do the same when it comes to Vic’s rep as a cop.
The other thing that drove me nuts- and will always drive me nuts when it crops up in a romance- is when one romance partner decides to keep important stuff to themselves and take the choice of action away from the other one because they are so sure they know what will happen if they do or they feel they are acting for that person’s best interest. In this case, it was Simon withholding tips and facts and things of interest about the case. He likes to say its because the police and Vic won’t believe him, but that doesn’t fly with me because he’d already told Vic a few airy fairy things the ghosts shared and Vic acted on them even though he got teased and questioned by his partner. In fact, Vic defended Simon hotly every time Simon’s gift was questioned and tried to keep an open mind after the first time when he freaked and left. Not once, did he give Simon reason to hold back.
The story lagged in places and it was mostly due to going over the same ground almost verbatim and sometimes within a few chapters of the last time. It was pertinent and fascinating detail the first time, but not the second and the third.
Now, for all that got into my craw, this was an overall win and this is because of Simon and Vic as a pair together and how they wrestled to overcome tough pasts to reach out to the other guy. They had their sexy times, but I enjoyed it when their were other moments together as well. And, they both had good friends in Simon’s bestie and cousin and Vic’s partner. I can see how the relationship both as a couple and detecting partnership along with fitting their lives together will only get better as the series progresses.
Kale Williams was a great voice for this story. He gave the locals a southern drawl and Vic had a good raspy northerner voice. Gender was done well and he matched up well with the pace and tone of this book. I would definitely pick up other books he narrates and hope he is the narrator for this whole series.
All in all, I was glad to have listened to this one. As you saw, it was not a complete win for me, but there is plenty to love and want more of for future books. I’m hoping that future books will pace better now that the intro to setting and world are done. This one will be for those who enjoy spicy m/m romantic suspense with strong paranormal elements.
My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
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