Thursday, December 15, 2016

Murder Once Seen by J.T. Hall

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.

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Book 1
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Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

2.5 stars

The dark, dystopian feel to this series is eerie, but I waited in vain for the world building that was needed to fully explain Derwin and Elliot’s lives. Without detailed or original explanations, this ended up feeling like a piecemeal compilation of ideas from several well-known books and films.

A murder mystery runs through this story. Derwin, a bounty hunter, is trying to find his boyfriend’s murderer. He is an oddity – someone with secret special powers who is strong enough to hunt demons. When Derwin meets Elliott, he realises that Elliott’s oddity can help him solve the crime.

As much as I wanted more clear world building in this story, I also wanted more character development. I understood each man’s situation, but I didn’t feel like either character ever came alive or felt real to me. I’m not sure either character developed through the story – Derwin and Elliott just took turns being abused, battered, and beaten up. And while I was still trying to get to know Elliott and Derwin, an enormous cast of supporting characters was thrown at me. So I spent the rest of the book flipping back and forth through my Kindle trying to keep names straight and characters clear.

The instalove between the bounty hunter and the prostitute is really difficult to believe in. Two hardened characters immediately letting their defences down and falling in love? Hmm. While some of the sex scenes were very hot, there was never anything offered to help me understand the emotional connection between these two very different men.

I ran out of patience near the end. This is the first in a series and it really doesn’t stand alone. After struggling through too much of this story to give up, my heart finally sank at 85% when I realised that my efforts weren’t going to be rewarded with a satisfying conclusion. No – this is the first in the series and the end of the story is even more convoluted than the start. Urgh.

J.T. Hall has been writing for many years under this name and others, and has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and online books. She earned her BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona, her master’s in education from Argosy University, and works as an independent technical writer for state and federal programs. In her free time, she volunteers for the LGBT community and is active in the leather scene. She has a teenage daughter and a partner of over ten years. They live in sunny Arizona with three adorably cute dogs, three black cats, and a hamster who loves peanuts.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Murder Once Seen (The Oddities #1) by J.T. Hall to read and review.

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