*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+
This collection contains two books; The Artist’s Touch and Tested in Fire. I’ll split the two so it’s not confusing.
The Artist’s Touch: Stephen Cobbe is a painter riddled with debts and homeless after the death of his lover. But when a new patron offers him room and board in exchange for his paintings, Stephen jumps at the change. The catch is he blacks out while he paints and awakens to completely dry canvases and no memory of creating them. As these paintings gain attention, Luke Morganstern is sent to investigate where they are coming from as the art is exactly like a painter who died many years ago. But when he sees the possible forger is his ex-boyfriend, Stephen, he can’t believe Stephen’s claims until they become too real to deny.
While this is a cute paranormal second chance romance, Stephen and Luke’s romance comes off as too rushed to really get invested in since they go from some pretty deep mistrust to “ok, we’re in love now” too quickly to form a real connection with them. However, their personalities are clearly written and real enough to empathize with them as they uncover some pretty serious ghost activity. The supernatural elements don’t feel tacked on as a frame to bring our main characters together and held it all together to make the story as a whole pretty cool. There are some sexy scenes but they don’t makeup very much of the book. 3.7 out of 5.
Tested in Fire: Having rekindled their relationship; Stephen and Luke are now rising stars in the art world. But Stephen’s debts still haunt him and he is determined to pay them off without Luke’s help. He wants to be independent and debt free so Luke will never see him as a burden. But after one argument, Luke seems to be acting very strange and the elderly stroke victim in the same building as Stephen is suddenly convinced he desperately needs Stephen’s help.
Here’s where the paranormal elements really start to take center stage. We have an awesome badass former cop turned psychic named Peg and villains who are body snatchers. The stakes from the first book are substantially higher and more detailed, even giving our characters some actual abilities. I would love to see the series continue and see how they handle various supernatural threats while also trying to live a somewhat normal life (particularly since Luke will absolutely have some major real-life consequences because of events in the book that I won’t spoil). 4 out of 5.
Overall, I’m glad I read these back to back as they compliment each other perfectly. The second, in my opinion, tops the first book in general so I’ll average the two as a 3.9 out of 5. If you like paranormal romance, these are pretty good!