Monday, September 11, 2023

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: ROUSTABOUT by Morgan Brice (A Carnival of Mysteries book)

Roustabout: A Carnival of Mysteries book

by Morgan Brice

Publisher:  Darkwind Press

Cover Artist: Dianne Thies

Release Date:  August 23, 2023

Genre: Paranormal MM romance

Tropes: adversaries-to-lovers, hurt/comfort, forced proximity, rogue with a heart of gold, secret agent/con man, redemption arc

Themes: overcoming the past, settling old wrongs, second chances

Length:  230 pages 

Heat Rating: 4 flames

It is a standalone book, but also part of the shared-world, multi-author Carnival of Mysteries series and is connected to Morgan's Kings of the Mountain series. 

It does not end on a cliffhanger.


Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK


Bartlett Gibson is a necromancer and an agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Supernatural Investigation. He’s hot on the trail of RJ Tucker, a psychic con man who has eluded him at every turn and led him on a merry chase. Pursuit leads to grudging respect in their game of cat and mouse, which becomes a high-stakes game of seduction. Bart chases RJ to the Carnival of Mysteries and realizes that nothing is as it seems. A dark witch’s curse ups the ante, creating a deadline for revenge and redemption, and the clock is ticking.

Falling in love breaks all the rules. Can Bart and RJ stop the witch, break the curse, and find a way around RJ’s spot on the “most wanted” list before time runs out?

Roustabout is a fast-paced MM paranormal romance filled with supernatural suspense, snarky humor, crafty carnival workers, sarcastic ghosts, midway magic, hurt/comfort angst, adversaries-to-lovers tension, and a very happy ending!

Part of the multi-author, shared-world Carnival of Mysteries series. Can be read as a stand-alone.


But first, reckless as it might be, RJ had a date.

He knew he was fussing too much over his hair—manicuring his stubble and manscaping— but it had been a long time since there’d been anyone to notice, and he was going to make the most of it.

RJ wore his best shirt, a russet one that complemented his hair and warmed his pale complexion. Together with a new pair of jeans and a pair of Timberlands that were a rare splurge, he knew he cleaned up well.

He drove to Rosco’s Barbecue and parked, then realized his palms were sweating as he gripped the steering wheel.

It’s just dinner, he told himself. But nobody had ever made him feel like Bart did.

He grew up fast on the circuit surrounded by roustabouts and wranglers who didn’t follow convention and largely lived outside the restrictions of polite society. RJ had plenty of boyfriends and lovers over the years. Those in the carnival life rarely expected permanence, and relationships seldom lasted more than a season.

Moving from place to place had been a necessary distraction in those years. He hadn’t wanted more than temporary connections since he still mourned the people he had loved and lost. The dream of vengeance had sustained him, and for a long time, that was enough.

But now, with the end of his quest in sight, RJ found himself wanting more. Maybe he could never tell a partner everything about his old life and the recompense he had dealt out, but perhaps he didn’t need to live in self-imposed solitude.

 After all, people in WITSEC get married. This isn’t too much different.

 God, I’ve got the cart before the horse. We haven’t even f*cked properly, and I’m picking out china patterns. It’s just dinner. And maybe a blow job if I play my cards right.

He went inside and looked for Bart. When he didn’t see the tall man waiting, his stomach tightened, fearing he had been stood up.

Bart came in a moment later, looking harried. “Sorry. Work ran over. Have you been here long?” He looked like he really cared whether RJ had been worried.

RJ relaxed and gave a broad smile. “Just got here myself.” His stomach growled. “It smells so good in here, and I’m starving.”

They followed the hostess to a table. RJ saw Bart slip her a twenty to get a spot out of the thick of the fray. Rosco’s did a booming business, with food that deserved the buzz.

“Did you have a good day?” Bart asked after they had ordered. RJ thought it was charming that Bart seemed flustered.

 Maybe he’s as out of practice as I am.

Carra's Review

I’m always game for this author’s books, and once again I had an enjoyable read.  Part of the Carnival of Mysteries shared world, Roustabout is a standalone featuring RJ and Bart—two men on different sides of the law.  Well, RJ might not be wholly on the right side but his intentions are somewhat noble, though borne from revenge.  Gonna be honest here—I was totally okay with what he was doing…at least as a reader.

The story progresses at first at a normal pace, with the two only being a hookup at first, until they encounter each other again in another town when RJ is working another con.  They spend more time together even as RJ is continually executing his plans.  Though Bart knows him only as Jon, his talented investigating eventually points to the suspect he only knows as Ghost Boy actually being this man he’s casually seeing.  

But RJ has come too far to let his plans fall apart, even if the feelings he’s having for Bart are a lot more than he’s ready to share—especially when a witch threatens everything, including his life.  

It does feel like RJ and Bart’s feelings go from hookup to something a lot more serious pretty quickly.  But looking back on the story now, I’m realizing that the amount of time that actually passed was more than I thought to accommodate the length of time for RJ to execute his plans.  In the moment of reading though, that passage of time didn’t quite come across to me so it felt like those serious feelings happened fast.

The setup of each of RJ’s cons and Bart’s continually evolving investigation are well written and those sections do a good job of keeping the reader’s attention.  When things come to a head with the witch, things get exciting, but they were resolved relatively quickly compared to everything that came before, something I’ve noticed has been happening with some of this author’s more recent stories lately.

In all though, I thought Roustabout was a great story, and I liked the insights into carnival life, especially when they were enhanced with the supernatural aspects.  This book was a 4-star read for me, and I like how it ties in to another of this author’s series—something Morgan Brice does quite well and I always look forward to seeing those connections!

About the Author  

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic and urban fantasy, with less romance, more explosions.

All of the modern-day Morgan Brice and Gail Z. Martin series crossover, so characters from one series appear in cameos and on page in important secondary roles in books from other series. Each book can be read as a standalone, but the more you read the more the expanded universe of friendships and connections becomes clear. 

Morgan and Gail believe that paranormal elements make any story even better, and her worlds are full of ghosts, psychics, shifters, creatures, vampires, monster hunters, and magic. 

She's also a huge fan of the TV show Supernatural. (Chibi art by Kamidiox)

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