This was a compilation of MM Romance short stories featuring agents in a law enforcement branch call the “The Irregulars”, whose mission is to monitor fantastical and paranormal activity in and out of our dimension. There’s mystery and magic and sexy time – think Men in Black, but with way less money…and the “aliens” are vampires and goblins. The setting for these stories is in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m from Portland, Oregon, so I felt completely at ease with the foundation for the world-building. It was kinda fun to read about places I’m familiar with.
“Green Glass Beads” by Josh Lanyon
My favorite short story in the compilation, with my favorite characters. I loved Archer. I wanted to give him a big hug, even though he’d definitely evade it. Archer was on the edge of morality, and a bit – sometimes a lot – of an asshole. It just warms me up inside, dunno why. Also, he was a pretty half-fae man, and I am a sucker for the pretty bad boys. Oh damn.
The dynamic between Rake and Archer was compelling (I could use another Archer and Rake novel, please). I read a lot of reviews that said that the romance wasn’t developed enough, and I have to disagree. Both “men” are from ancient and foreign (like other dimensions) backgrounds, and I was deeply moved by how Archer struggled to open up to Rake. Lanyon broke through that asshole facade and portrayed Archer to be vulnerable, and I felt it like a sucker punch to my solar plexus. In a good way.
“Cherries Worth Getting” by Nicole Kimberling
The theme of forbidden fruit was strung throughout this short story, making it a rich treat. Kimberling slowly unwrapped the many delicious secrets throughout the story, and she got to introduce us to trans goblins – a super cool race. Agent Gunter Heartman was one of my favorite characters in the compilation.
The idea of a trans goblin is wonderful and amazing. The baby goblins are changed before birth to look like the most gorgeous male models imaginable (I think they are all kinda naturally gayish too?), so that they can “fit in” in our dimension. *snort* But they aren’t human. They eat cigarettes and drink butane and don’t bat an eye at monsters consuming raw human flesh. They may also all have crazy kinky sex. Thanks guys, for letting these dudes loose on humanity, lol. However, our friend Gunter is surprisingly stable. Go figure.
“No Life But This” by Astrid Amara
This was about a human named Devon who grew up in a world of the undead. Of all the protagonists in this compilation, I sensed that Devon was the most capable of unspeakable horror and violence. Even his magic was queasily repulsive. Ironically, Devon’s heart was also probably the most pure. He couldn’t help that he grew up in a world of no light, or that he was never truly loved. In a way, he is a child in our world, and he has to learn what it means to be human, and hopefully how to love someone and be loved in return.
“Things Unseen and Deadly” by Ginn Hale
This was a longer story. It was plot-driven and took me into another dimension or two or three. Where in Lanyon’s piece, I felt like the magical realms and ancient powers were scratching on the fabric of reality, trying to break through; in this world, the fae and the real were blended weirdly beautifully by Hale, like two melodies that harmonized.
Ah, Half-Dead Henry, the misplaced white knight. I liked his character’s complexity. He was old and he showed it. I could have probably used the entire story from his point of view, I enjoyed it that much.
These aren’t your typical MM Romance short stories. They’re messy and awkward and bend the rules of reality. But they are oh so damn good, and I’m in love.
Check out the blurb on Goodreads: The Irregulars