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Title: Strays
Author: A.J. Thomas
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genre(s): M/M Paranormal
Page Count: 210
Reviewed by: Susan
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Orphaned at a young age and raised in the foster system, Jory Smith has no idea he’s half incubus. He only knows he has the power to heal people, making himself sick in the process. Exploited by a crooked faith healer who sells his abilities and his life to the highest bidder and then left for dead, Jory flees, falling into a job at a small-town café where he can put his lifelong obsession with baking to good use.

But the minister who exploited him wants him back.

Exiled hellhound-turned–bounty hunter Malpheus Pelle has no idea why his human client wants him to track down an incubus. Jory is traumatized and afraid to touch anyone, an emotional handicap that could prove fatal for a demon who requires physical contact. Needing answers, Mal concocts a disastrous plan: pretend to date Jory to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, his plan never included dealing with an ancient demon assassin, Jory’s orgasmic pumpkin cookies, or losing his heart to the incubus he’s supposed to be hunting….

This was quite confusing. Now I’m not really one for books where the plot gets complicated and I have to draw a map to figure out who is related to whom and what they all are to each other. So that could be totally on me and not the book.

Jory is a 20 year old minister assistant. The minister thrives on conning people into giving their money to the church, and Jory is just the tool he needs. Jory has always been able to heal people with a touch, so when he is 14 his foster mother ‘gives’ him to the church.

When the minister, Adam, cons Jory into healing someone, it almost kills Jory. Adam drags him into the woods and leaves him there to die. But Jory isn’t that easy to kill. And when Adam needs him a few weeks later when the person Jory healed is starting to get sick again, he hires Mal to track Jory down.

Mal is a hellhound. A hellhound can take several forms, mostly different types of dogs, and of course his human form. Together with his close hellhound friend, Louise, Mal tracks other demons down.

When Mal finally finds Jory, he can feel how strong Jory really is. He has never encountered an incubus that strong before. But Jory doesn’t seem to know he is a demon at all……

While I liked the world A.J. Thomas created, it was just too much for me at times.

I was glad this had no info dump, but it did get awfully confusing for me. When everything was revealed during the big showdown I had absolutely no idea anymore what was going on. It was simply too much. Even though the rest of the book is mostly show and not tell, it was still overwhelming to figure out who was who and why they were there.

And there were a couple of instances that the writing just plain confused me and I wasn’t even sure who did what.

It definitely wasn’t all bad. I liked Jory, a lot. And I really wanted him to get his HEA. Now Mal was a hard person to like sometimes. I got where he was coming from and what he was trying to do (mostly protect Jory), but he could have been a little more honest a little sooner.

The romance was okay, but I guess I wanted a bit more. These guys did a lot of awkward mysterious talking before something happened. Mysterious in that Mal thought Jory knew he was a demon (himself and Mal), so he said things that would have sounded strange to a human, but for some reason Jory didn’t really notice or simply ignored it most of the time. That was a bit… weird.

I did like the overall premise, but I think this had too much going on for me to really enjoy it. If a few things would have been left out, I would have liked it more.

Oh, but I do have to say I absolutely LOVE the cover. It is beautiful….

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