Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis #1)

Author: Cari Z

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Riptide and Amazon

Type: Short Story

Received from  Author


Blurb: Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.



Review: This was an intriguing start to what will be a new series. In Panopolis there are villains and superheroes as well as ordinary citizens going about their lives. I personally enjoy anything with superheros. This book seemed to get complex as the book goes along. It’s not just good guys vs the bad guys. Those lines tend to get blurred and that’s how Edward ends up falling for a villain. As the author notes in her dedication “For everybody who has always preferred the villain. I feel you people.” Sometimes there are good bad men.

Edward moved Panopolis hoping for some excitement like so many others. He’s surprised it takes so long for him to encounter one of the super-powered. The bank where Edward works is robbed by the notorious Mad Bombardier. Who got his name by excelling at bomb making. Edward is panicked and afraid but he finds himself helping the Mad Bombardier out of the situation. Catching the eye of a villain and the hero who almost finally had Mad Bombardier. Mad Bombardier is intrigued by the bank employee and seeks out Edward. Edward knows he shouldn’t be enamored with a villain but Raul, Mad Bombardier, is a kind man who he has chemistry with and he can’t seem to say no to Raul’s advances. He doesn’t want to.

Falling for a villain isn’t an easy thing. There’s shame for loving a “villain” and there’s always a chance they’ll get caught or worse die working a job. Edward struggles with this but knows having Raul is worth it. Raul is happy to have someone to share his life with. Open and honestly. The first half of this novella is a pretty sweet romance with some action and hints of what’s to come. The more you read the more you realize things are quite right in Panopolis. Some of the revered heroes and cops are under the thumb of the evil GMO chemical group. Whether it’s deliberate or not you start to understand what it would be like if to go against their wishes. The group wields a huge amount of power throughout the city. If they want you gone. You’re gone. This is the part of the book that had me sitting up and wanting more.

Overall the romance was a good one. They guys don’t whine or really resist falling for each other. In fact I would have liked a little more of the transition from I shouldn’t date a villain to turning the page and they spend almost every night together. Personally I just like reading that part. It didn’t take away from the story necessarily but it may have helped endear me to the couple more. I think I loved them a little more after the big finally scene towards the end. So much devotion when everything is stacked against them. I was definitely left wanting more. The ending opened up a whole bunch of possibilities for the direction of the story. I love political intrigue! I also liked the idea about how sometimes you’re pushed into a corner and become the bad guy because you want to survive. Or that’s how you’re perceived. I don’t always see things as black or white. There are definitely shades of grey and that’s where you’ll find Raul and Edward. I like that about them. Edward may have taken a little longer to see that he should follow his heart even if it’s not what he’s told is right or the easy thing to do but he knows now. Things should get pretty interesting from here. Looking forward to reading how the guys get out of their jam and hopefully take the bad/good guys out.

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