Fans of superheroes and villains will be drawn to this series starter that introduces us to the city of Panopolis and its colorful inhabitants. Keep reading to get a taste of Where There's Smoke by Cari Z., a fun and sensual m/m read, along with my impressions of it. Learn even more about this book through the author's discussion of how her characters came to fruition and by visiting the other sites hosting this tour. Make sure to leave a comment below telling us who your favorite superhero or villain is for the chance to win a backlist title from this author too!
The Heroes and Villains of Where There’s Smoke are almost always made, not born. They’re not naturally good or bad people irrevocably set on their path from the womb. They go the way they’ve been encouraged to, the way that the powers that be in Panopolis have allowed them to. I’ve borrowed heavily from the realms of mad science and bad science to make the people who managed to survive whatever was done to them, whether it was accidental or done with malice of forethought.
It’s a bit of a crapshoot for my Supers: are you a former cop who got doused with the wrong type of chemical and are now trapped in a force field? Congratulations, you get to be Freight Train, hero extraordinaire! Don’t worry, we’ve worked out how to keep you fed and clothed, if not quite how to free you from your prison.
Or, are you a graduate student who fell into his professor’s poorly-secured experiment and came out coated in a thick layer of rubber that just won’t come off? You’re no longer very pretty, and also we don’t know how to treat your condition, so have fun reinventing yourself as Pinball, a villain who is so crazy and in pain he literally bounces off the walls.
The only villain in my story who I’d say was raised to be that way is Raul Tremblay, aka The Mad Bombardier. He was the son of revolutionaries who grew up running bombs and watching his parents make poor decisions in the name of liberty and love. Nothing was done to him, no one forced him to move to Panopolis and become a Villain, but with his background and education it felt like a natural step for him. He never intended to fall for Edward, whom he met while robbing the bank that Edward works at. He certainly never intended to endanger his lover, or put him in harm’s way.
Naturally, harm happens anyway. You know what they say about the road to Hell…
But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.
Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.
Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.
***FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK here.***
MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
The city of Panopolis is the epicenter of a war between heroes and villains created through nefarious means enabled by pharmaceutical companies and condoned by the city's hierarchy. The police force has become merely a figure head as the citizens place their faith wholeheartedly in the growing number of heroes against the increasingly dangerous society of villains. Looking for adventure, and fascinated by stories of heroes and villains, the sweet and somewhat naive Edward has recently moved here and quickly finds himself caught up in the concept of good and evil from which he'll never be the same. At first Edward saw the heroes as the good guys with no imperfections but interactions with Freight Train (aka Craig) show a hero with a bit of an ego. Meeting the Mad Bombadier (aka Raul) as he's robbing the bank Edward works at shows a villain far more compelling and attractive than any hero inside and out. In a relationship that starts out very slowly there's lots of conflict revolving around the acts of violence Raul commits but it's clear he has a conscience and does all he can to keep Edward safe from his deeds. Edward's conflict is heartbreaking as their connection is deep and clear and it makes for a few rocky moments for the pair amidst some very sensual and steamy interactions. Just when it looks as if they're heading towards HEA someone close to Edward sets off their own explosion that puts him in danger and irrevocably changes him and his relationship with Raul in a very intriguing way.
This story may have started out slow but quickly picked up its pace as readers discovered more about the creation of the heroes and villains and the unethical means by which it sometimes happens. It engenders lots of sympathy towards the villains when you're picturing them as lab rats. In comparison, the heroes take a backseat in this tale and seem bland when in the company of such colorful villains. Edward started off a bit quiet and naive but through his discoveries grew stronger which he'll need after the dramatic change forced upon him by the supposed good guys. Through it all Raul stayed by his side and in an heroic way saved him which further blurs the lines of good and evil repeatedly touched on throughout the story. Their romance was slow to build but culminated in some very steamy encounters that were nicely balanced with the action and suspense showing them as a formidable duo who I look forward to seeing avenge what befell Edward. This was an exciting start to a series that makes you question your beliefs and with its emotionally intense ending I'm excited to see where the story will go next and will be counting down the days until the next installment.
My rating for this is an B+
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, "See ya!" She also started writing in earnest then, because when you have no television, no car and nothing to read other than a French translation of Twilight, you find ways of entertaining yourself. She’s been back in Colorado for a while now, but stuck with the writing.
***Cari posts a free weekly serial on her blog at carizerotica.blogspot.com
Prize is a paperback copy of Rules To Live By.
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