Title: Settle the Score
Series: The Blackwarren Heists: Book Two
Author: Vaughn R. Demont
Length: 347 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: I’ve loved this -verse for a long time now, and couldn’t have anticipated it would grow, become lusher and more robust, until it did. Nick is an unlikely hero—though he probably wouldn’t appreciate the title. But that’s who he is: noble, humble, and mindful that he remains more than the color of his cap.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Breaking up is hard to do. Breaking up three times with the same person is even harder. Breaking up three times with the Prince of the Phouka is nigh impossible, but that’s life for Nick Blackwarren, a Goblin Thief drawn into the Redcaps, a clan of murderers and assassins. Keeping his blades clean is difficult enough with a blood-hungry magical sword, but it’s made more difficult when Nick is hired to track down the killer of a young artist and retrieve her final work, a symphonic magnum opus.
To finish the job, Nick needs a team. Fortunately, he has a fast-talking Gremlin hacker, a Kitsune with her finger on the pulse, his ex-boyfriend who hasn’t taken the hint yet, and the last partner he ever wanted any connection to: an elite assassin with ties to the Royal Family of the Fae. Doesn’t help that he’s pretty easy on the eyes, either. The investigation will lead through chases on the highway, fleeing from dragons, tracking killers, and the greatest heist of a Goblin’s life: the Royal Vault.
Sometimes it just takes a thief. Other times it involves jumping off a building.
Review: Nick Blackwarren is a cinnamon roll. There, I said it. I didn’t think it’d be possible to adore a Goblin as much as I do him, but here I am with a heart full of reverence for his nobility, his kindness, his compassion, and his commitment to do the right thing. Even if it means he suffers losses himself along the way. His cap may not be white anymore, but, as he might say, “It ain’t gettin’ any redder neither, buddy.”
Yeah, we’re still Nick’s buddies, and thank goodness for that because it means we get to ride shotgun with him for some more amateur sleuthing. Nick is in the Asset Recovery business, which is how he lands his current case. His new digs—unbeknownst to him at the time—come with a mystery attached, a murder and a missing musical score that is the composer’s greatest achievement. Her magnum opus. A legacy and a gift that must be preserved for generations to come. He’s committed to finding the sheet music and to give her parents a little peace under the most horrific of circumstances. What Nick doesn’t account for—couldn’t possibly have accounted for—is the chaos and danger for which he has just volunteered.
On top of this case, Nick is also dealing with some chaos of the personal variety. Thom Canmore royally betrayed Nick at the end of the last murder investigation, using Nick as bait to catch the killer, which is why Nick is a Redcap now. It was kill or be killed. That doesn’t mean Nick is about to go all-in on the killer biz, though. Thom can’t change the past, but he’s doing his best to let Nick know how much he regrets using him. Nick isn’t exactly forgiving or forgetting, but that lust, buddy, it’s a thing. And who knew Thom would lose his ever-loving mind in the throes?
Throw in a Redcap assassin, Rhys Llewelyn, who Nick can’t seem to keep his hands, or lips, off of, and you have the recipe for a classic romantic suspense. Even though this ain’t that kinda story, pal. Rhys’s role in Settle the Score was unexpected, exceedingly complicated, and I didn’t expect to love him, but lo and behold, here I am. Demont delivers the banter and the chemistry between them exquisitely, and I loved that Rhys’s own story was rife with complexities that went well beyond giving them a simple resolution.
I’ve loved this -verse for a long time now, and couldn’t have anticipated it would grow, become lusher and more robust with characters and their stories, until it did. But then again, there are six million stories in the City. I find myself wanting to read all of them. Nick is an unlikely hero—though he probably wouldn’t appreciate the title. But nonetheless, that’s who he is: noble, humble, and mindful that he remains more than the color of his cap.
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