The Usual Apocalypse

Title: The Usual Apocalypse
Author: Christine Price
Cover Artist: N/A
Publisher: Carina Press
Buy Link: Buy Link The Usual Apocalypse
Genre: M/M paranormal romantic suspense/mystery
Length: Novel
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review:
A superb paranormal romantic suspense/mystery which manages to combine romance with a thrilling mystery plot full of twists and turns which will keep you guessing right to the end.

THE BLURB

Relationships can be tricky when people can’t lie to you, so Agent Matthew Whitman focuses his unusual powers on solving cases for the Society. When a fellow agent is found murdered, Matt is given a major assignment: find her killer. First he must find Brennan Mitchell, whose brother was a victim in the murdered agent’s last case.

For sixteen years Brennan thought his brother was dead. Now, a Society agent is confronting him with the impossible—his brother is alive. While Brennan is grateful to be reconnected with his brother, he doesn’t want to be pulled into any Society business. But the attraction between Matt and him is electric. After indulging in sensual encounters together, Brennan finds himself drawn into Matt’s investigation, and they become embroiled in something much larger than a run-of-the-mill murder case. Something darker and more dangerous than either man could have ever imagined.

THE REVIEW

The Usual Apocalypse is a sort of sequel to In Darkness Bound which I reviewed here. It follows an investigator for the shadowy institution known as the Society, Matthew, who was instrumental in rescuing the heroes from the previous book. This book begins with two important events for Matthew. Firstly, the death of a senior and well loved colleague leaves Matthew with a new case: He has to find her killer. In doing so he also uncovers things about his own past and those of some of his fellow agents which leads to complications that could endanger his own life. Secondly, Matthew finds the brother of Chris, one of the heroes from the last book, and reunites them. Brennan and Matthew begin a tentative relationship which threatens Matt’s secure workaholic lifestyle.

Those readers who haven’t read In Darkness Bound don’t strictly need to read it before this book. There are things that tie them together. For example, in looking for the reason why his colleague was murdered Matt has to examine the contents of the case she was working on which happens to be an investigation into Dr Dalhousie, the woman who incarcerated the heroes from the previous book. Also, whilst we don’t see Simon and Vance in this book, we do have some scenes between Brennan and Chris. In the end, I think my enjoyment of this book was helped by having read the previous book, but it still works as a stand-a-lone.

How well you like this book relies on the character of Matthew, because although we also get into Brennan’s head (and a couple of other characters) he is the main narrator for the story. I did like him, despite his flaws. He’s completely obsessed with his job, spending long hours in the office. Whilst this makes him damned good at what he does, it also means that he unconsciously pushes people away, making relationships difficult. At the beginning of the book, Matt’s ex returns from a year’s secondment to Paris and the pair are still smarting from the acrimonious break up. I thought it very clever that the author showed that both men were culpable in the break up, even as both deny fault. As well as being married to his job, Matthew is very good at using his job as a way of hiding away from things he doesn’t want to think about. This made him, at times, a little frustrating but it was telling how as his relationship develops with Brennan so his job becomes less of a refuge for him. Matt’s paranormal ability is that people are unable to lie to him, which made for some very amusing scenes, but you can also see that it’s caused him a lot of hurt over the years. As the book progresses, we learn more and more about Matt and his past making him quite fascinating. The secrets that are revealed were very surprising and rather unique, making Matt one of the most unusual characters I’ve come across for some time.

Brennan therefore rather fades a little when placed side by side with Matt. He’s got a magnetic personality and a paranormal ability to read minds and some telekinetic ability. He’s an all round good guy who wants to make things work with Matt, and a determination to stop Matt from working himself into the ground. This made him very likeable but without the layers of complexity which make up Matt’s character. That doesn’t mean to say he’s dull, he isn’t, and in fact his more straightforward character worked well with Matt. The scenes with them together were a great mix of fiery heat and lovely romantic moments and overall the romance was a big hit with me.

As well as marvellous characterisation from both leads (and various secondary characters) the highlight of the book was the twisty, turny mystery plot which kept me on my toes. This was a mix of methodical, nose to the grindstone, dull investigative work – often done by the sharp tongued but adorable, Tate, who is one of the best female characters I’ve seen in an m/m book recently – and all out action/explosions/fights/kidnappings/general seat of your pants stuff. This gave the pace of the book a great mix of forward thrust in the action scenes and slower patches where the romance and world building tended to be developed. The secretive world of the Society is also explored, and we learn much about its turbulent history, as well as how the current leader fought and won the position. This showed that the paranormal world building was carefully planned and integrated into the story. I was very impressed.

I’ve been trying to think of a niggle to tell you about the story, but to be honest, I can’t think of one.  This alone should tell you how much I enjoyed this book!

I really feel like I’ve only touched the surface of what made this a five star read for me. I was captivated by the very first page, propelled through the story by great characters, a gripping story and a romance which had to be worked at. Those of you who love paranormal UF stories are in for a treat with this one and I highly recommend The Usual Apocalypse.

23 comments

  • Thanks very much Jenre- I really loved this one, read your review and just pressed the button in celebration! Great characters and dialogue made this such a good read.

    Reply
  • Great review Jenre!
    I hadn’t read the first book, and didn’t really feel I was missing much.
    I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and hope there will be more from the Society.

    Reply
    • Hi Ailish

      I hope there are more books set in this world too. It’s a very interesting setting. I’d like a story which revisits Chris, Vance and Simon from the first book.

      Reply
  • I’m with Sirius – I was a little put off by the reviews on Amazon, but after reading yours, I think I’ll give it a go. Thanks!

    Reply
    • As I said to Sirius, Pea, I don’t read Amazon reviews (frankly many of the aggressive reviews there are just not my thing). I’m glad my review has given you second thoughts :).

      Reply
      • Okay, I stayed up way past my bedtime finishing this last night. Loved it – the characters, the witty repartee (or lack of it in some cases), the charisma, the world building (with no info dump, yay). I’ve been feeling a little jaded with my reading for the past couple weeks – there’s nothing new under the sun, etc. – this was a great cure. Thanks so much – I doubt I would have read this without your review.

        Reply
  • Hi Jen
    Love your review of this book and I will definitely put it high on my TBR because it’s the kind of story that will keep me on the edge of my seat throughout. I can’t wait to read it. I think you did a marvellous job of capturing all the elements of the story.

    Reply
  • I would have liked to know that it was a sort of sequel to “In Darkness bound”, I didn’t realise till about halfway the book.
    That did not stop me from liking the book but it would have explained some things for me.

    It was a good read just as you said Jen 🙂 Well worth the $$.

    Reply
    • Hi Ingrid
      Yes, it surprised me a little that Carina hadn’t flagged this up as being a sequel of sorts. I hate reading books out of order so I think I may have been a bit miffed if I’d bought this not knowing about In Darkness Bound.

      Reply
  • This seems like a book I could like. I always liked the characters that could read minds and the mystery is incentive enough in my book. ^^ Thanks, Jen!

    Reply
    • Hi LadyM

      Brennan is a little bit cheeky with his mind reading, actually. I think if I had been Matt I might have called him on it a little more :D.

      Reply
    • Wow, you’re a fast reader, Sirius! This book is nearly 400 pdf pages and you read it in one night – did you sleep at all? :).

      So glad you enjoyed it as much as I did – and yes, it was refreshing to see a plot based story which whilst still had some lovely tender sex scenes wasn’t sex on every other page.

      Reply
      • No, I started reading it during the day while waiting in court, continued on my commute home, and finished at home. Could not do anything else before I finished it 🙂 Oh and I so agree that Tate was an awesome character. Thank you!!! Such a great cure from blandness. I want more 🙂

        Reply
  • Reviews on amazon make me a little nervous, but I am going to get it anyway, love stories with interesting plot. Thanks for the great review Jenre.

    Reply
    • I don’t read Amazon reviews, Sirius. In fact I don’t read any reviews on books I have to review before I review them because I don’t like to be swayed by the views of others.

      This book has had a number of very positive reviews on Good Reads, I noticed :).

      Reply
      • Hi Jen, neither do I read amazon reviews before I review the book, same as yourself I do not want to be influenced by opinions of other people. Of course if I review the book that I read before I even became a reviewer for this site, than it is too late, I already read a review and you are so right, I either want to argue or agree with other reviews lol. But here I read amazon reviews because I read your reviews and liked it so much I wanted the book. I was just expressing that I kind of stopped in my tracks, because of sharp differences in opinions, that’s all. But of course I bought the book anyway since same as wave said it sounds just the book I would love. Thanks again.

        Reply
        • You’re welcome, Sirius :). I much prefer the reviews on places like Goodreads than Amazon, mainly because on the whole the reviews are more thoughtful and considered. Amazon reviewers scare me :).

          You must let me know whether you liked it or whether you agree with the Amazon reviews :).

          Reply
          • OMG the best recent recommendation ever. I started it on my ride home. I could not stop. Why cant we have more books like that? 🙂 Fast paced plot, mystery where I could not guess the villain (and I guess correctly very often lol), and two great protagonists. I loved Matt, I guess with VERY rare exceptions (rapists and murderers _ not even killers), I love characters, who are flawed, because they have flaws. And Matt and Brendan were so good together, sooo hot too and without sex scenes on every freaking page. Thank you Jen, I think it is clear that I disagree with Amazon reviews a lot lol. I do read them and write them too, but I certainly agree that it can be crasy as well.

            Anyway, thank you so much for this one. Have I mentioned how much I enjoyed the *plot*?

            Reply
            • Oh and I thought it was very well edited, and with all paranormal things there was no time when I had to roll my eyes and think about how unbelievable it is. And I think it is a great compliment to writer and editor, when they made me completely suspend disbelief.

              Reply
  • Thank you Jenre I will definitely look into buying this one.

    Great review! You gave me a feel for the book without giving away the plot. It sounds intriguing!

    Thanks! :flowers:

    Reply
    • Thanks, Reggie. The plot is actually rather complex and surprising so I didn’t want to take anything away from a reader’s enjoyment by revealing any spoilers. I’m glad I was successful :).

      Reply

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