Kings of the Mountain
by Morgan Brice
Cover Artist: Natania Barron
Release Date: May 21, 2020
Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, M/M paranormal romance
Trope/s: Hurt/comfort, mutual pining, friends-to-lovers,
childhood best friends, second chance
Themes: coming of age, forgiveness for self and others,
crush maturing into love, letting go of guilt, family
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 63 000 words/238 pages
It’s the first in a new series
Fast cars. Outlaw country boys. Snarky werewolves, vengeful ghosts, and menacing monsters.
Dawson King’s family has been hunting things that go bump in the night in Transylvania County, North Carolina, since before the Revolutionary War.
Dawson was never happier than when he was racing his souped-up Mustang along winding mountain roads and hunting monsters with his best friend, Grady. Then Grady fell in love with him, which should have been perfect since Dawson had already fallen hard for Grady.
But Grady was only seventeen, and Dawson feared that sooner or later, Grady would realize his feelings were just a first crush, and then he’d be gone, leaving Dawson devastated. They both needed space to figure things out. So Dawson joined the army, while Grady stayed on the mountain.
Four years later, Dawson is coming home. He’s more sure than ever Grady is his forever love, and they’ve both agreed to begin this new aspect of their relationship as soon as Dawson gets back.
Then Grady’s father is killed in a werewolf hunt gone wrong. Grady is devastated, and he’s throwing mixed signals about moving forward. Dawson knows he needs to hold off on this new thing between them until Grady has time to grieve. But monsters never sleep, and one hunt after another throws Dawson and Grady into constant danger, while tension and unresolved feelings ripple between them.
Making it even harder, Dawson’s got a secret. He’s dreamed of death omens—which point to something stalking Grady. Can Dawson figure out who’s trying to kill Grady, save his life, and win back his heart?
Plenty of mutual pining, hurt/comfort, spooky chills, sexy thrills, and a very happy ending. The Kings of the Mountain is the first novel in the series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older.
Colt slid him a sidelong glance and relented. “If I tell you, you’ve got to keep Uncle Denny from whupping my ass, because he told me not to.”
“You know I will.”
Colt tightened his grip on the wheel, his knuckles bone-white and kept his eyes on the road, a convenient way to avoid looking at Dawson. “We’ve had some problems with rogue werewolves and feral shifters lately. They like our neck of the woods because it’s remote. If they didn’t bother anyone, we might have let it ride. But there’ve been livestock kills and some attacks on people that just barely got pushed back.”
“How did you know you’ve got weres and shifters?” Dawson fell back into hunting mode out of old habit.
“It’s that time of the month,” Colt replied with a smirk. “Seriously? The weres are only out the three days of the full moon. You know this sh*t—did you forget it all while you were gone?”
Dawson flinched. “Just confirming. Didn’t want to assume.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time you made an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.’” Colt’s smile faded. “Anyhow, we’ve all been out trying to track down one particular werewolf. He didn’t stay in the forest and feed off the deer. If he had, no one would have bothered him. Kept coming near towns, snatching farm animals. Grady and Aaron thought they’d figured out a pattern and guessed where he’d strike next. So they did a stakeout.”
Dawson found he was holding his breath. He had an awful feeling about how this was going to go.
“They were right,” Colt continued, his voice flat. “The werewolf got the drop on Aaron. Grady shot the wolf—silver to the heart—but he’d already bit Aaron.”
“Aaron begged Grady to shoot him. Grady refused. Grady also wouldn’t just leave his gun and walk away.”
“He knew how it had to end,” Dawson said quietly, his voice thick with sorrow for both Grady and Aaron.
Colt shrugged. “Maybe he needed more than a few seconds to be okay with killing his father.” At Dawson’s wince, Colt relented. “Sorry. I don’t know what happened to Aaron’s gun; he probably lost it when he got jumped. Anyhow, Aaron went for Grady’s gun, and in the struggle, it went off. Killed Aaron. Grady walked home, covered in blood, and told Uncle Denny what happened. Denny took care of the body.”
“Jesus,” Dawson murmured. “What did they tell the cops?”
“Sheriff Rollins knew about the rogue were. He had his men out looking for it, too. So what went down could have happened to anyone.”
At least no one was going to jail. That was a small comfort. “What about Knox?”
Morgan Brice does urban fantasy really well. I know when I pick up one of her books I’m going to find some urban legend that is new to me, along with some of my favorites. This time the stage is set with a family of monster hunters going back many generations. The bit of a twist? Two cousins unrelated by blood who have been best friends for a very long time, partners in monster hunting…and both pining for each other. Dawson and Grady’s story is even more complex than what you get with just a glance at the book’s blurb.
With a setup like that you I’m sure you can imagine the amount of angst going on, and things are complicated by Grady grieving the death of his father as well as the death omen dreams Dawson’s been having. Dawson trying to hold off on the two of them finally seeing where things can go with them as a couple just adds fuel to the fire.
The urban fantasy elements are spot on, and each successive encounter keeps the tension of the story building. The romance elements though are sparse, at least until the end; instead there are extra heaping portions of that pining I mentioned which of course increases the angst level. That did make the connection between Dawson and Grady feel, well, not quite connected—and for me that made the scene where they finally do connect feel a little less than genuine (something a few lingering touches and so-close-but-just-a-breath-away encounters could have resolved).
The story does keep you on edge thanks to the gradual suspense buildup, I just would have liked to see a bit more on the romance side. Kings of the Mountain was still a solid 4-star read for me, and is a great setup for this new series. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
About the Author
Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.
On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.
Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!
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