MtSnow reviews Hidden Gem (Hidden Gem #1) by Lissa Kasey. Published by Dreamspinner Press on September 26, 2014 . Released on audio December 16, 2016. 9 hrs 36 mins. Narrated by Adam McLaughlin.
A copy was provided by the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Warning: Contains mild BDSM elements.
Why MtSnow read this story- I have an avid interest in Asian characters, beautiful book covers, and fantasy. This one drew me in with its beauty, both external and internal.
The narration – This is a new-to-me narrator, and at first I struggled with him, as he sounded quite gruff and a bit older than I expected. But that all disappeared as he started doing the various character voices and I warmed up to him quite quickly, especially with his brogue for Shane. I really hope he is selected for the rest of the series and that they go to audio as well.
The story – I honestly thought this was a new-to-me author as well. It wasn’t til I read her Goodread profile, and saw my checklist that I realized she also wrote the Dominion series. I had purchased them long ago, but they got lost in my tbr pile. I will say, after listening to thus book, she will definitely be going higher on my list of authors.
First off, this book does have a warning of mild BDSM, and that definitely is what it is – mild. But not at all off putting as it works well with the worldbuilding and rank structure in this, I guess you’d say ‘brothel’ but not to the full extent. Due to his abilities Aki does not have to do what the others do, and his beauty as well as the skills he has make him highly sought after, even for others to be in his presence.
Well, unless of course you are a client scared of or prejudiced against a psi such as he, very obvious from the color of his eyes. The backstory in Aki is very fascinating and tidbits are revealed slowly, letting us as the reader know there is more to him even than he seems to know himself. I loved the pacing and the way things were hinted at without feeling like I was being ‘fed’ the storyline. I got to feel it all along with the character.
POVs do change but the majority is from Aki’s point of view, and it works well because so much of what he knows is buried in his psyche and is fascinating as the layers peel away.
Shane is just what he is. A rough around the edges cop/shifter that has a softness in his heart for Aki. It doesn’t seem so at first and I almost got mad at the way he was so accepting of Aki’s lifestyle and the pain Aki had to endure to be of use in the detective’s investigation. But as more is revealed, it pretty much had to be that way. It was something he discussed with Aki, and he didn’t want to ‘clip his wings’ so to say, making sure Aki felt free to do what he needed after a life of servitude. Aki’s past is extremely traumatic, and I could see why certain things had to be handled delicately.
There are many villains in this story, and many supporting characters to begin to care about. Honestly, after finishing this book the first thing I did was go out and purchase the next 2 in the series, as the MCs in them are both characters we get to know in this first book.
There were some scary and heart in my throat moments, and even a few times I teared up a little. The things they each did and had to understand about the others’ vulnerabilities and scary strengths really got me to thinking. I even went and relistened to the book a few weeks after and enjoyed it just as much!
If you are someone that enjoys coming across something a bit different, enjoy paranormal and dystopian elements, this book is a winner for you! I just hope the publisher decides to complete the other books in the series as audiobooks. I LOVED this book, enough for a relisten a few weeks after my initial investment. A serious winner here!
P.S. The audiobook has a 4.70 out of 5 star rating in Audible. I think others might agree with me *wink*
Lissa Kasey is more than just romance. She specializes in in-depth characters, detailed world-building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to your e-reader. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTGA spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.