Title: Peek-a-Boo (Josh of the Damn #2)
Author: Andrea Speed
Cover artist: Jordan Taylor
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Buy link: Buy Link Peek-a-Boo (Josh of the Damned #2)
Length: 3,600 words/15 PDF pages/Short story
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Review summary: Charming and entertaining, well-written story, which doesn’t move series forward
Blurb: As night-shift clerk at the go-to Quik-Mart for monsters with the munchies, Josh Caplan believes he’s seen it all. Battling lizard men, werewolves chasing cars in the parking lot . . . nothing fazes Josh anymore.
Or so he thinks, at least, until a yeti with poor communication skills drops a dead skunk on the checkout counter. Josh can’t figure what a living, breathing shag carpet wants with him, or why it won’t leave him alone no matter how hard he ignores it. But hey, at least it seems harmless . . . if perhaps a little slow on the draw.
But Sasquatch is plenty fast when two of Josh’s human customers try to out-monster the monsters. Times are strange when creatures from the hell portal save the day, but in the protective hands of a lovesick yeti and a sexy vampire boyfriend, Josh realizes that maybe his new normal isn’t so bad after all.
Review: Andrea Speed is one of those authors whose writing really suits my taste. I started reading her stories after reading her least popular book and then I read them all. I loved each and every one of them. I like her writing and her characters and I adore her sense of humor. Peek-a-Boo has many of these elements, but it is not without the flaws, especially as a part of the series.
The story is the second installment in Josh of the Damned series. The first part, Pretty Monsters was reviewed here. We find Josh where we left him – in the Quik-Mart dealing with the monsters and their unusual behavior.
Let’s start with things that didn’t work. It is clear that some time passed since the ending of the first installment. We know this because not only Josh knows his unusual customers better, but he is aware of Colin’s true nature and they are in “sort-of” relationship. In my way of thinking, since this is a part of the series, all these things should have happened on page. It’s an opportunity to move the overall story forward and additionally develop the characters. While he did remind himself to be cautious, Josh is fascinated with Colin in a way he would be with any other hot guy and Colin’s supernatural nature doesn’t seem to affect him or his decisions at all. He takes it pretty much in a way he accepted his customers – as slightly unusual, but nothing to lose your sleep over. This means there is no on-page relationship development at all and not much character development in the story, especially since Colin appears just at the end of the story. Peek-a-Boo reads like a snippet, an entertaining look on Josh’s unusual life, but there is no general arc that connects the stories into one big picture. It’s funny and entertaining, but it’s also frustrating – not just because it’s too short, though that is a part of it, but because it’s static. If the changes happened, they happened when we weren’t able to see them or read about them.
But, as I said, there are things that worked in the story and worked well. Ms. Speed’s writing is crisp and capable of transporting you into this irregular Quik-Mart during night shift. It’s capable of showing you Josh’s almost involuntary sympathy for his unusual customers. They are accepted in this store, even if Josh cannot understand them always, even if sometimes grudgingly. And, of course, there is humor. I understand that humor is subjective, but Ms. Speed’s is just right for me. Whether it’s semblance of normalcy in a completely wacky situation, Josh’s interaction with hell’s creatures including one courting yeti or, simply, the brilliant details like “the silver-coated broomstick he used to shoo off werewolves who insisted on chasing cars in the parking lot” – the humor just works for me. And, as a humorous interlude, the story is amazing. As a part of the series, unfortunately, not so much.
Do I recommend it for you to read it? Yes, if you already started with the series. It’s funny and entertaining, writing is very good and Josh is really likable character. If not, it seems the next installments will be published together (I’ve read this somewhere and now I can’t find where) and they will have more story and more character development. That will certainly save you from the frustration. In that case, wait for additional stories, because the good things come to those who know how to wait. Recommended with some reservation.