I received this arc at no cost to myself for a honest review.
Overall the book is wonderful steadfast reading with a swift pacing that is very easy to follow with everything you need for a perfect investigation for a private investigator. I loved all the action and different happenings where mystical creatures and how things were just in the last chapter alone had me flipping pages so quickly to have answers but then it just ended.. I was turning the page hoping for more but nope.. Gotta read the next book! All the events through the middle with notable characters and descriptions of scenes had you there with P.I Vale yet somehow you are safe but P.I Vale is in for a long.. Long ride. You need to read this and I think my review just doesn't give this book justice.
On the one hand, I'm annoyed that something about Bellamy Vale, our P. I. protagonist, is revealed in the book blurb for Hostile Takeover. On the other hand, I don't know how I could've written much without slipping myself (but I appreciated the reveal when I got to it, having forgotten everything I read about the book before starting it). Bell works for Lady McDeath, the daughter of Hades. We're not given many details of the arrangement (which I honestly enjoy -- something I'll get back to in a minute), but it involves her saying "Jump" and him leaping.
Being her emissary on Earth comes with some real benefits -- namely, he survives things, events, situations that he shouldn't. Which is a real plus for a P. I. who annoys mobsters and supernatural beings on a regular basis.
In this particular case, Lady McDeath wants Bell to investigate a couple of deaths that have been officially attributed to a wolf, but it takes Bell a few seconds to realize weren't caused by anything from this world. The detective in charge of the investigation (naturally) isn't wild about P. I.s in general, but has a special kind of distaste for Bell. This makes anything Bell does near the scenes, bodies, or anything else a sticky situation. Stickier yet, things that could do what was done to those bodies aren't supposed to be in our world. While dying is off the table for Bell, he's not impervious to pain or injury, and the state of those bodies suggests that there's a lot of pain and injury waiting for anyone who gets between the creature and his/her/its next victim.
To help him along the way, Bell calls upon a hacker friend, Zian, who is not entirely human; a nosy, ambitious, and fierce reporter; a police detective that he's in an on-again/off-again relationship with (currently, it's an off); and a few other local contacts/friends who are aware that not everything is as mundane as most people think it is. Overall, this was an entertaining cast of characters -- I think we need a little more to the police detective that can't stand Bell, because right now, he's too one-dimensional. But otherwise, this is a good group to start a series with, there's not one of them I don't want to see again.
Bell himself is pretty much your typical P. I. character -- a loner with a tragic past, dedicated to the work he does, willing to take risks for himself (particularly since he knows no mistake is fatal) -- but not willing to put others in the line of fire, he has a hero complex for sure. He's got a decent sense of humor, a good moral code, and a loyal strike obvious to everyone. The added abilities that come from his supernatural patron are pretty neat and I don't think I've seen much like it before.
You can tell that Comby has worked out a lot of behind the scenes stuff she hasn't shared with us -- exactly what drove Bell to make a deal with Lady McDeath (we get hints, and they aren't pleasant), what he had to do in order to seal the deal, exactly what deities are active in the world (or what pantheons are), what's the source of the rules governing interaction between the worlds, etc. Comby had to feel a lot of pressure to spill those beans and she resisted -- giving us just enough to ground ourselves in this world, but not boring the reader by drowning him in world-building (also giving her time and room to work out some details to make later books easier to pull off). Recently, I've complained about fantasy novels withholding too much world-building so that it's too confusing for the reader to understand what they're reading. Comby avoided both extremes and therefore succeeded in giving us a world that intrigues, and makes you want to know more about, without feeling utterly stranded.
I had a quibble or two with the book, nothing major. I do think that the motivation for the Big Bad was too sketchy, and the reveal of their identity was tipped far too soon. Bell was just handed a lot of information without having to pound the pavement too much, which isn't something that really commends a P. I. to me. But only guessing the identity of the Big Bad far too early bugged me while I was reading it -- it's only when I stopped to reflect on the book as a whole that the rest occurred to me. In the moment, the momentum of the storytelling and the strong voice kept me going. Also, I liked the characters enough that I was (and am) more than willing to overlook a few hiccups.
This is a solidly built and solidly entertaining entry to this series -- there's a lot she can do with Bell and the others (depending which others come along), and it's a world that would be easy to drop new/different deities/monsters/creatures into. The characters are well-developed and the kind that you want to spend more time with so you can see them develop more -- I could just watch Zian (and his dad) talk to Bell for a bit and have a good ol' time, too. I'm definitely interested in more from this series, and I bet most UF readers who give this a chance will be waiting for book two with me.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion, the only impact that transaction had on my opinion was providing me something upon which to opine.
Acquisition by Chelle Bliss is book One in the "Takeover Duet" series. This is the story of Lauren Bradley and Antonio Forte. This book does end with a cliffhanger to set you up for their continuing story in the next book called "Merger ".
Lauren is a CEO of a large company that is having some issue and after a hard day she goes to a bar for a few drinks. This lands her to have a one night stand with Antonio. Antonio is CEO of his own rival company who wants to buy out Lauren's company. Although they don't really know each others Identity at the of their one night stand Lauren soon learns it. Now it seems Antonio wants book the company and Lauren.
Both Lauren and Antonio are strong characters and I am really enjoying their story! Can't wait for their next installment!
Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N'At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn't have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he'd become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.
As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob's visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.
But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?
Wow. Runs around clapping! I found a great gifted new to me writer.
Ana Zabo creates nuanced grown characters who I adore watching fall in love and then work to have a loving relationship.
I have so many favorite things about this book. It gets all the details just so, This is a full world with lively and complex heroes.
We get a romance that deals with what it means to grown up working class and with addicted parents and be successful, what it means to be bisexual in your late 30's through this era cultural change, small business ownership, coffee and third spaces, being a workaholic...
Brian is a workaholic. and Rob is workaholic. in recovery but with more resources than Brian. This is the core conflict in the book. Brian can be very annoying but it the true to life kind of frustration that you feel with people you love that have an addiction or point of view problem.
The love story is lush and comforting and sexy. Rob and Brian get a great deal of couple time as well well as time to make their own arcs. All the characters in this book matter and nothing is simplified. The setting is great.
So well written! I ordered all the rest of the books in the series and can't wait for more. A great love story.