Author: Lissa Kasey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Hidden Gem: Book Two
Paris Hansworth, star whore turned senator and the most powerful man in City M, has been hiding his terminal illness for years. Searching for a way to reverse the toxic environment that’s killing him, Paris stumbles upon a lost research facility, and a merman named Rain.
Years alone have made Rain long for companionship, and the beautiful man on the other side of the glass intrigues him. But Rain speaks the wrong language, and is decades out of touch. He isn’t quite sure what to think of the new environment he’s been thrust into.
As a virus spreads through the city targeting City M’s most private residents—A-Ms—Paris realizes he’s out of time. He’s willing to sacrifice everything, even his own life, to stop it. But Rain might just be the missing DNA link to explain the mutations created in the last plague, maybe even the cure.
Watching Paris race to save his friends, Rain knows he’s found someone special and will do anything to stay by his side. But the past Paris thought he’d escaped is seeking revenge, and he’s forced to adapt yet again, possibly even becoming a monster. He only hopes Rain will still want him.
Review: The world created in this series is fascinating and endless in its possibilities. I mean you pick up book one expecting a book about a brothel but you get SO much more. Wars, plagues, shifters, Psis, espionage, political intrigue, serial killers, romance and that’s not even close to all of it. It’s like a goulash of goodies for me personally. If you haven’t read book one you need to read it before you read this one. The world building is fairly complex and events from book 1 are important to the development of things in book 2. Plus it’s just a damn good story. Book 1 Hidden Gem introduces us to Aki and Shane. Book 2 Cardinal Sins is about Paris finding his guy and finally finding his own happiness. However there are many cameos from characters in the Hidden Gem and some new ones. The story is told through the POVs from Paris, Shane, Rain, Aki and Candy. So there’s a ton going in this book. Lots of struggles and emotions to work through. Bad guys and cooties to conquer! Mermen to be saved.
Shane and Aki are settling into their domesticated life together. Aki barely leaves the house because he’s still struggling with all the changes he underwent in book 1. That sort of metamorphasis takes a bit of getting used to. Aki doesn’t exactly have control over his memory losses or panic attacks. One of those episodes lands Aki in the hospital where he’s exposed to a strange new virus that’s killing A-Ms and making humans sick at an alarming rate. He’s put into quarantine but of course Shane gets to his man and exposes himself also. I found myself just as caught up in their devotion and love as I was the first book. Aki is like a lovable ticking time bomb. So devoted and fragile. Though he’s one of the good guys his powers are unknown and potentially catastrophic to those around him. Shane is his anchor to his human side. They need each other like air. There’s just something powerful about their connection the author captures so well.
Paris in this story was quite a bit different than he was in book one. He seemed in charge and together but in Cardinal Sin we learn he’s very sick and weakening daily. Too many people depend on him for him to slow down. He does everything he can until the end. Including looking for a man Aki saw in a vision. What he finds is something close to a merman named Rain. Paris is drawn to Rain. Rain is drawn to his savior Paris. The romance between Paris and Rain was kind of insta love meets the I’m not good enough for you thing. Paris has a ton of responsibilities and keeping up appearances as a powerful and capable Senator is key. He’s a former whore turned Senator who is a very vocal supporter of A-M and Psi rights. He’s forever trying to atone for the sins of his father by saving slaves from the south. Save more people from the violent pray away the gay camps . Paris thinks he has to save everyone. He’s accomplished great things his life but he struggles with how he got there and being worthy of someone’s love. Rain is naive. He’s totally enamored with Paris from the beginning. Sadly this couple just never grabbed me like Shane and Aki did. One of the things that did capture my full attention was Paris’s past . Besides the characters his trip down south was my favorite part of the book. I LOVE ruthless Paris. You do not mess with his family or his city.
The deadly virus unleashed brings in the fear and the gore. Which I generally enjoy. It also reminds us that just because the country has been divided into the north and the south, doesn’t mean the war between the two is over. After the plague that devastated the population and made things toxic, the population had finally started to find a sense of normality and lessened fear in the cities in the north. The virus has a similar shocking effect bringing back all those emotions from the plague and it’s death toll. It sets a tone of weariness but that also makes the guys realize how lucky they are to have found a family like structure with each other.
This book has tons of characters with different histories and tragedies. The plague, loss and government experiments have created some really messed up people. This world is pretty ugly. Each character has a unique story we get little glimpses into. So I’m always intrigued on what’s coming next. Candy meets Ivy his newest star whore for the Gem in this one. Jack the detective who won’t let anybody close to him is going to play a role in the next book. Ino is finally opening up to Aki so there’s potential there for more from him.
To sum this up there are many story lines going on in this book. A few love stories. Some resolution for Paris. New responsibilities for Candy. I’d describe this world as post apocalyptic where anything is possible. Mermen, angels, vampires, shifters, mind control… Basically it’s the story of these men surviving horrible things and finding some joy in each other. I liked this one but not as much as the first one. For me there was just so much going and so many POV changes I couldn’t ever really sink into it and just get lost. It was a good read but it felt much longer than its 300 pages because of the start and stop from each story line. If you liked the first book in this series, you’ll want to read this one. And the next! I’m looking forward to getting some more answers and getting back the the Gem.