Book Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas [Audiobook]

Jory has always had the ability to heal people by taking their sickness or injury into his own body, but he doesn't know he's half incubus. When he's forced to heal someone's lung cancer, it leaves him nearly dead, and he flees to another town. But the man's cancer comes back, and he hires Mal, a hellhound, to track him down, only Mal starts to fall for Jory as he pieces together the truth of the situation.

Book Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas | reading, books, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, lgbt+, m/m, incubi, hellhounds
Title: Strays
Pages: 210
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


I just kind of loved this! The romance was really sweet and fun. The characters were lovable. One of them was a hellhound, a supernatural I had never read about before. The other was an incubus, one of my favorite types of supernaturals. The sex was hot without being too serious. The story was good. That description doesn’t do the book justice though. It makes it sound kind of like every other paranormal romance out there, but this one really stood out to me.

This book didn’t have all the tropes I usually come across in paranormal romance. No protag who was too feisty for their own good. No brooding love interest. No overly eloquent or poorly timed love speeches. No instalove. Yeah, there was some secret-keeping that you knew was gonna blow up in one of the character’s faces, but even that was mild and quickly handled. The whole story, including the characters and the romance, felt grounded and realistic (well, realistic if there were really demons living in the world and accidentally falling for each other). Mal was a little gruff. Jory was just trying to get by and make the most of his lot in life. Both had done some questionable things, but neither was a bad person.

Another thing I loved, even though it didn’t have much impact on the story, was the hellhound portrayal! The author had a cool take on that.

I admit I was confused about all the demon stuff at the end. Who hired who. Who was in charge of who. What everyone’s motivations were. It got complicated. It was all very incidental to the story though, which means it probably didn’t need to be that complicated (unless there are going to be more books), but it also means you don’t really need to understand it to enjoy the book. And I so thoroughly enjoyed everything else that I didn’t even care.

Also, keep in mind that I listened to the audio for this, and when I’m listening to a book as opposed to reading it with my eyes, there are some things that bother me more, other things that bother me less, things I don’t notice or don’t understand as well, etc. The audio itself was great though. The narrator (Noel Harrison) did a wonderful job. Everything sounded natural. I would definitely recommend the audiobook for this one.

Most importantly, I was rooting for these two characters, both separately and together. I even developed a soft spot for some of the supporting characters too. I just really enjoyed this and kept wanting to get back to it every time I stopped. I smiled and chuckled and said “awwww” and made that little frowny throat whimper sound you make when you feel bad for someone—does anyone know what I mean?—so many times throughout the story. Ultimately, this book made me happy, and anytime a book can do that, it’s a great thing!


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21 thoughts on “Book Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas [Audiobook]

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  1. Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

    I’m glad this was such a great read for you. Very cool that it didn’t rely on so many of the expected tropes either. That’s pretty refreshing. I’m also very curios about the hellhound. Pretty sure I’ve never read a book that featured one before.

  2. Greg

    Sounds fun! And yay for no brooding. 🙂 I mean brooding has its place, but no brooding does too. I always like that idea too of being able to heal someone by assuming their injuries or whatever- it’s a cool idea. 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      I guess I don’t always mind brooding, but sometimes the brooding men end up being just a trope/stereotype, so it’s always nice to find characters that are different!

  3. Eline @Lovely Audiobooks

    This sounds amazing! Demon’s of any kind are my favorite supernaturals. And this sounds like a smart romance. I love it when they’re different and you don’t feel like you’ve already read the same story 100 times under different titles.

  4. Lola

    I have this one on my list to listen to. I am even more curious to listen to this one after your review, it sounds really unique. I am glad to hear you thought the narration was well done too. And I like how even the secret keeping sounds well done as I am normally not a fan of that. Now I am curious about the hellhound portrayal. I have read a few books with hellhounds, but not a lot of them. And that’s great it made you happy! I like reading books that make me happy.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yay! I think you might like this one. It’s super cute, and hopefully it’ll make you happy too! Hellhounds are not a creature you find often as actual characters in books, so it’s cool to find that.

  5. Olivia Roach

    I have to admit I am also someone who loves when a book makes me happy. And if a book has a few problems but manages to make me incredibly happy I am more likely to rate it higher just based on the happiness factor! For someone like you, who reads a lot of paranormal books and romance, to say this one is memorable really says a lot. I will have to look into this one. I haven’t really read a book about hellhounds either!

    1. Kristen Burns

      It it nice to find those kind of books 🙂 And yeah, if a book makes me happy, I can forgive some little things. Tbh I don’t actually read a lot of PNR specifically anymore, but this one was great!

  6. Pingback: RecomMondaytion: Strays (M/M Urban Fantasy) | Lovely Audiobooks