Title: Pretty Monsters (Josh of the Damned #1)
Author: Andrea Speed
Cover artist: Jordan Taylor
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Buy link: Buy Link Pretty Monsters (Josh of the Damned)
Length: Short story/15 PDF pages/2,630 words
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by LadyM
Review summary: Please, Ms. Speed, can I have some more?
Blurb: Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot. Still, he likes to think he can roll with things. Sure, the zombies make a mess sometimes, but at least they never reach for anything more threatening than frozen burritos.
Besides, it’s not all lizard-monsters and the walking dead. There’s also the mysterious hottie with the sly red lips and a taste for sweets.
Josh has had the hots for Hot Guy since the moment he laid eyes on him, and it seems Hot Guy might be sweet on Josh too. Now if only Josh could figure out whether that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between. After all, with a hell vortex just a stone’s throw away, Josh has learned to take nothing at face value—even if it’s a very, very pretty face.
The problem with these Nibbles, Kisses, Got 5 Minutes? reads or, in Riptide’s case, Ripples is that you start reading, blink and then they are over. This can make a reading experience very frustrating and that was certainly true in the case of Pretty Monsters. As a teaser for the new series, the first installment of Josh of the Damned worked perfectly, but it left me wanting more, more, MORE!
The blurb is very accurate, so I’ll stick to the highlights of the story which will interest both Andrea Speed’s fans and the new readers.
The story is short, but we still get the feel of the world Josh lives in. It’s a contemporary world with the addition of, well, monsters. While the hell portal doesn’t seem to be a common occurrence, the fact that his boss’s only reaction to it is to offer Josh a hazard pay made me believe that it wasn’t exactly unique. The matter-of-fact way Josh talks about his strange customers as well as details about their dietary habits and appearance were funny and added to the unexpected feel a normalcy.
Before Josh could say Yes please the brass bell above the door jingled. Colin quickly jumped back as Josh pulled down his shirt and cleared his throat, wondering if he could even walk. If it was Mr. Kwon again, he was so screwed—and not in a good way.
Thankfully, it was just a zombie.
The zombies’ favorite choice of food will surprise you and, no, it is not braaaains! (well, I hope). Josh’s voice reminded me somewhat of Clerks – if he had a companion to share the night with, they just might spend the night discussing the vagaries of life near the hell portal.
Josh, our narrator, comes across as a very young man. While we never learn how old he really is, his choice of job, his narrative voice and, yes, his horniness all seem to corroborate this assumption. The target of Josh’s lust is Hot Guy whose name, we learn, is Colin and who is a regular night customer at Quik-Mart with penchant for sweets. Josh’s reactions to Colin were adorable, especially his uncensored thoughts. One night, Josh learns that his interest is returned. Not only that, but Colin just might be one of the visitors from the other side of the gate. But, who or what he is? You’ll have to wait for the second installment – Peek-a-Boo – to get the answers. It will be available in January.
The writing, as I’ve come to expect from Ms. Speed, is smooth and, in spite of the story’s incredibly short length, she gave us enough details to establish the connection with Josh and pique the readers’ interest in Colin and their world. The cover is beautiful and true to Josh’s description in Colin. I found one error (a word repeated twice in the sentence), but have in mind that my review is based on ARC and it is possible that this was cleaned before the release date.
Overall, Pretty Monsters is charming beginning of the new series, a tasty hors d’oeuvre that whets your appetite and leaves you hungry for more. I debated long and hard with myself how to rate it and I can’t, in good conscience, give it less than four stars. But, let’s hope that the author will move on to the main course in the sequel or the frustration would prove too much for this reviewer. Recommended.