In Jackdaw, a magic-using thief and a former cop with a difficult past end up on the run together as they try to figure out if they can ever go back to the relationship they once had. Gideon is struggling with the burden of his recent promotion, Lee is struggling to unmask the monster in his latest visions, and an upcoming Pride parade and solstice might bring them both more than they bargained for. In A Reason to Believe, a detective sees the ghost of a murdered child and turns to a medium to help him with the case. Enjoy my mini reviews for these three m/m paranormal/urban fantasy books! (Even if some of them aren’t quite so mini—sorry about that!)
Jackdaw by KJ Charles
This was different from the other Magpie Series books---harsher, darker in a way, although still with a happy ending. This was also an unusual sort of romance. At least, I don't think I had ever read a romance that started with the characters having such awful history that one hated the other and blamed them for ruining their life. And they had such a fucked up relationship at the point when this story started, full of lies, love, betrayal, sacrifice, and blame. But once I knew their stories, I found it believable for them to have their second chance and for it to work. I wanted it to work.
I felt so terrible for both men. Both were swept up into bad situations that spiraled out of control the way that life does sometimes. Things just got worse and worse until there was no way out, no where to go but further down if they wanted to survive. This book really showed how society, the government, the justice system, etc. can fail people sometimes. How it punishes people who are already down. And it was so weird seeing former main characters as antagonists, although I don't think it's a spoiler to say they did come around in the end (thank goodness). In some ways, I may have enjoyed this even more than Stephen and Lucien's books (which I do recommend reading first, as this one takes place after those and references the third one a lot); I think I felt for these characters more.
The audiobook narration by Cornell Collins was great again. Everything sounded natural and was voice acted with the right emotion. He even made Jonah and Ben sound different from Stephen and Lucien, although I did occasionally get confused who was speaking since they could sound similar at times.
Overall, this was a great addition to the A Charm of Magpies series about some different characters in the world!
Preacher, Prophet, Beast by Harper Fox
The paranormal stuff that happened in this book was again very strange and vague and I didn't entirely understand it, but it made more sense than the previous two books. And there was more of the non-paranormal to ground it and give solidity to the plot. But the thing about many of these books is that some of the paranormal stuff is purposely written, I think, in a way that you're not supposed to be sure if it's actually paranormal, imagined, or has some other blander explanation.
The sudden addition of new POVs seven books in threw me off a bit though. I wasn't used to having to remind myself whose POV I was in. There are a few warnings I want to give for this book too (they're not all problematic, just things readers might want to know ahead of time): The words "loony bin" and "lunatic" were used in reference to a schizophrenic character, there was a big focus on violence and hate toward the LGBT+ community (though not from the MCs, obviously), and this book also got a lot more political than previous ones.
On a brighter note though, I did once again love Gideon, Lee, and little Tamsyn (such an adorable, loving little family), and the whole rest of the family with whom their relations are imperfect but sweet. What this author really excels at though is creating tension and a feeling of wrongness and worry, but also portraying and evoking emotions of all kinds, from heartbreak to unequivocal love. And that's what keeps me coming back to these books---the wonderful characters and their wonderful relationships.
A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland
This was a nice story. Not super memorable for me, but it was something I enjoyed while reading. The characters were believable and likeable. Matt was a bit bland, but Kiernan livened things up a bit with his cheekiness. I didn't feel a ton of chemistry in the romance, but it was believable enough, despite the quickness of it, because we got to see the characters spending a lot of time together during those few days. I figured out the murder mystery before the characters did (at least, I suspected the motivation early on, and then the murderer a bit later), which makes me think they should've suspected sooner too, but it wasn't so obvious as to ruin the book. The plot and the way the mystery panned out was still good, and there was some heaviness due to the topic of a murdered child. The added paranormal element of a ghost was cool. The audiobook narration by Jack LeFleur was good, natural, and easy to differentiate between characters (since one of them was American and the other Irish). If you like m/m "detective + medium" romance that's uncomplicated with an HEA, I think you'll like this.