Murder Once Seen

Author: JT Hall

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher 

 

Blurb: In the city of Nis, things often aren’t what they seem.

Derwin is a bounty hunter gifted with the Oddity of superhuman strength and agility—perfect for hunting down fugitives and demons who roam the streets. One killed his boyfriend two years ago, and Derwin won’t stop until he finds out who. Police suspect it was someone he sent to prison, but he can’t shake the idea that they’re missing something.

Elliot is a rentboy who’s been living on the streets since his parents disowned him. He mistrusts everyone and, given his uncontrolled ability to Read Objects and a client list that includes a major gang boss, despairs of ever having a normal life.

Derwin and Elliot meet in a storm of lust. Derwin’s Oddity is fed by the pain of others, but he only wants what’s freely given. Elliot loves pain, but needs safety and a way off the streets before he can allow it. They may be able to solve each other’s problems . . . if they can survive long enough to work together.

 

Review:  This is my first book by this author. I was intrigued by the blurb and the great cover. I LOVE super powers or as described in this book as an “oddity”. That name has a negative tone which is fitting in this world considering they’re looked down upon. People with an oddity are also collected by the government to be used for their benefit. I thought this aspect of the story was very interesting but it’s never really explored beyond an explanation as to why our MCs keep their powers secret. Which creates a constant fear of discovery in the MCs.

Elliot’s parents kicked him out at fifteen because of his oddity and being gay. Elliot was found by a woman who helps street kids find safety and work. In Elliot’s case she became his madame as he sold his body for money. It’s a harsh reality he’s come to face. Elliot’s oddity is a rare one. He sees and experiences memories through touching objects. Not a great thing for a prostitute. He sees what he does as a way to survive until he meets Derwin the bounty hunter. Derwin saves Elliot from a local gang member who thinks Elliot should give him and his buddies a freebie or else. Elliot’s warning that he’s their bosses’ favorite play thing goes unheeded. After using his own powers to beat down the gang members Derwin hires Elliot for the night. Derwin is a succubus of sorts. He thrives and feeds off violence. Both men get off on BDSM and their one night together has them both wishing they could be more. Once back on the streets the gang viciously attacks Elliot. Elliot’s circumstances bring out the protective nature in Derwin. He hasn’t had a relationship since his lover was murdered in their home two years ago. Derwin learns of Elliot’s power and hopes to use it to help him solve the murder.

At times Derwin seems to have tunnel vision in regards to his ex’s death. Other times he’s utterly smitten with Elliot and just wants to save him from the streets. From Derwin’s POV he goes back and forth between the two. It’s frustrating when he uses Elliot but it’s obvious he hasn’t been able to move on after the death of his boyfriend. I thought his power and kink along with what an outstanding guy he seemed to be made for an interesting character. I wish there had been more demon fighting! I loved Derwin’s family.

Elliot’s character has obligations to his madame and all the kids in her charge. It seems unfair that such a young guy has to sell his body and take abuse for the protection of others. Let alone for his own survival. Elliot seems fine with it all until Derwin questions it. Derwin offers him a normal life using his powers to help him solve mysteries. Elliot dares to believe someone actually cares about him. So he wants to help Derwin solve the murder of his ex but at times it just feels like he’s being used in a different way. It also potentially exposes the power he’s been trying to hide.

I liked this book. It had a few issues but I like the characters and their struggle. The murder mystery takes up a majority of the book. Some may have issues with Elliot’s physical abuse on page. There’s a reluctant sex scene where Elliot obviously doesn’t want it to happen but is helpless to stop it. I’m not a fan of these scenes either but it’s the ugly reality Elliot lives in and it was over quickly with the lingering results of it making their impact on the reader. I enjoyed the journey of the guys falling in love while solving a murder and trying to stay alive. If there were more books in this series I’d definitely read them. I thought the partnership of the couple in this book and the world building was pretty damn good. Worth the read IMO.

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