Book Reviews

Hidden Gem (Hidden Gem 1) by Lissa Kasey at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Post-Apocalyptic / Urban Fantasy / Officers of the Law / Agents/Spies / Shifters / Human Hybrids / BDSM / Erotic Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 17-October-2018

Book Blurb

Misaki “Aki” Itou is a psi—a person with mutated DNA granting him psychic abilities. He’s also a contracted companion—a whore. It may not be the perfect profession, but having a roof over his head, food to eat, and not being subjected to torture is a dream come true. He is the top companion at the Hidden Gem, and it makes him enough money to buy the prettiest, most sparkly shoes he can find.

Shane McNaughton is an Irishman who survived the Third World War and works as a cop. Head of Missing Persons, he’s good at finding people, but after the plague of the Third mutated his DNA, he has a hard time letting anyone see the monster inside. He’s been paying for Aki’s services for two years, both the psi and the sexual kind, but he wants more from the companion.

Shane needs Aki’s ability to see into another person’s past to track down a serial killer murdering the children of rich and powerful men, but the more they work together, the clearer it becomes that they are linked through a darker past than either of them realizes.

 

Book Review

I originally read this book in October 2014 at which time I wrote a review but never published it so I am now fixing that huge error in judgment. The following is my original review but my feelings have not changed. In fact, I only think more highly of this author’s prowess as I have read everything she has written and consistently am astounded at her ability.

As luck would have it, it turns out that Lissa Kasey is going to be one of my roommates at this year's GRL. Now, of course, when I realized that I'd get the honor of another author in my room, I immediately asked her which book of hers I should read before I meet her. She made it plain that I was, in no way, shape, or form obligated to read any of her works, or even discuss them when I meet her. Well, um, I'm thinking she knows as much about me as I do about her, since everyone knows I never feel obligated to do anything, and reading a book is definitely not a punishment! So, I ran right out and grabbed 'Hidden Gem', which, funnily enough, I already had on my To Be Read shelf. It's fate, I tell you. Fate! I am a huge fan of fantasy and paranormal, and I knew, within the first ten pages, that I'd stumbled upon something truly unique. Intricate worldbuilding is a skill that not all writers can accomplish. I'm happy to say, this one can.

"You want me to be a prostitute?” Misaki couldn’t see anyone wanting the battered shell he was, starved, emaciated, ugly. Who would pay for that? And then there was his curse. “I can’t touch people. I see things….”
The older man sighed. “Useless, Paris. If you want a charity case, so be it. But I don’t know how I can use him.”
“Six weeks, Bart. What is your name, child?” the younger man, Paris, asked.
“Misaki. Misaki Itou.” Please take me with you. Or kill me. Anything but leave me in this misery for one more day.
“A shining star indeed. Six weeks, Bart, and you’ll be unable to hide the brightness of this little gem.”

It's forty years after World War Three when a plague decimated the population. The ones who survived mutated with the ability to change shape into an animal. These are called Animal-Mutations, or A-Ms, although the powers that be spent a lot of money convincing the populace that all the plague sufferers died and there are no A-Ms. That is Shane's curse to bear. A member of the police force in missing persons, he's recently been pulled to homicide to help with a serial killer they suspect is an A-M, and it's taking children. Shane hates having to change, as it's painful and turns him into a monster who craves blood and meat.

Aki was born a psi, a genetic mutation passed down, and he would've died two years ago if he hadn't been rescued off the streets and trained to be a companion, a whore. It's a better life than he had in the containment camps in the south, where he endured starvation, torture, and experimentation, and definitely better than begging on the streets. Aki's burden is the worst of the psi abilities. With a touch, skin to skin, Aki can see a person's every bad deed, evil thought, and/or action. In fact, he becomes that other person and sees through their eyes. Only two people can touch him without an issue. His best friend, Candy, a companion like himself, and his rescuer and mentor, Paris.

Shane has been a customer for two years, and has, occasionally, gotten Aki's help to solve missing person's cases, although Aki got no specific details. Now, however, Shane has to turn to him for help in this serial killer case, regardless that Shane doesn't want to subject him to it. But there's so much more happening beyond just the hunt for the serial killer. Who is the detective from the south who has arrived looking for a missing person, and why does he look so much like Aki? Why is there no record of Aki before he showed up two years ago? Is the serial killer fixating on Aki? And, if so, why? Why does Aki have no memories before the containment camp? Why, even after all the torture he suffered, is there not a single scar on his body?

I'm speechless. Truly. One of the best books I've ever read. When I started it, I had no comprehension of the intricate detail and layers this author would weave. It was impossibly easy to love Aki, and, interestingly enough, Shane, along with many secondary characters like Candy, Paris, Bart, and Manny. The suspense and intrigue were off the charts and the only thing I can say is - I've got to read this author's entire backlist. I absolutely loved this. If you don't read it, you're really missing out.

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 246 pages/87041 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 26-September-2014
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle, $19.95 audiobook
Buy Link https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/hidden-gem-by-lissa-kasey-635-b