Title: Treasure Trail
Author: Morgan Brice
Publisher: Darkwind Press
Release Date: June 26, 2019
Genre(s): Paranormal murder mystery
Page Count: 248
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters, and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the U.S. and Europe, but then a sting goes wrong, Erik ends up injured and returns to find his partner cheating. He decides to stop globetrotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, NJ, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.
Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. When he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.
Sparks fly when Erik and Ben meet. But when a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface, the two men are pulled into a web of lies, danger, and deception that will test their bond—and might make them Cape May’s newest ghosts!
Treasure Trail contains sexually explicit material intended for adults 18 and over.
I haven’t previously read anything from this author, so I came to this book a complete virgin (Morgan-Brice-wise, that is; given my respectable age, other virginities have been taken care of some decades ago). And as losing my virginity goes, this was highly enjoyable, and the experience shall be repeated very quickly. The author does have an already long list of published works out there, and moreover, this is apparently meant to be book #1 of a new series, so—hooray!
The story’s told from both MC’s point of views, which alternate from one chapter to the next. A writing technique I rather like, so I went with it unhesitatingly. Granted, when I discovered that the two main guys, Erik Mitchell and Ben Nolan, had both just moved to the little New-Jersey-coast town where the novel is set, I thought the coincidence was a tad too “constructed”. Moreover, both turned out to have a somewhat similar background (both worked undercover in one way or another for law enforcement agencies, both left their jobs, both had been recently disappointed and hurt by their ex-lovers). This could have been the book’s downfall if it were your average murder mystery. But the author has another ace up her sleeve, which she plays skilfully. Meaning she mixes in her wee bit of magic and paranormal goings-on, and what could look like phony coincidences becomes a plausible and legitimate plot-device. Even the insta-love our MCs experience (something that makes me cringe more often than not) finds a perfectly understandable explanation. Well, apart from the obvious—that both guys are hunks (even if Erick apparently doesn’t know it) and that the book is heading for an HEA.
As far as the plot is concerned, the blurb says it all. Erick is an arts expert, and his ability to touch an object and get a glimpse of its past has helped his career so far. But he’s nearly got killed in his last job, so he has decided he’d rather buy a nice antiques shop in a cosy, calm coastal town, the better to leave his old life (which includes his cheating ex-bf) behind, too. And whom does he encounter but handsome Ben, ex-cop and ex-PI from Newark, who has moved in order to help his aunt run her local real estate rental agency. Sparks are immediately flying between both of them, but it takes the clearing of an initial misunderstanding before both can enjoy their first date, kiss, and shag. Then, it’s rain checks on rain checks, because in the meantime they have discovered some old trinkets from a demolished hotel, and these trinkets lead to them stumbling over ghosts, the bones of a dead body, arson, a dead guy, and some more magic. Things are moving as fast as our heroes’ falling-in-love-motions—the pace of the book is such that you won’t want to put it down, be warned.
Being a sucker for good murder mysteries as well as well-invented magic-cum-paranormal plots, I was highly entertained by this novel—I got both. The MCs are sweet and nice guys, both with a past they’re trying to process and deal with in an adult manner. They don’t allow their past hurts to interfere too much with their current life, though, which comes as a relief—no contrived reasons to keep them from dating, kissing, and the rest. They are warm-hearted persons with a sincere interest for each other. The secondary characters were just as endearing, the story (murder, mystery, and paranormal threads) well-planned, well-organized, and well-written. There’s a good amount of suspense towards the end, plus an epilogue with a little surprise (my lips are sealed). A praiseworthy start for what I gather will be a good and highly recommendable series.