Reaping Fate (Reaping Havoc #2) A.J. Rose
Rating: 5 Stars
Publisher: The Grim Writer Press
Genre: Gay Romance/Paranormal
Tags: Suspense, Paranormal – Reapers, Contemporary Setting, Humour, Series
Length: 277 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
For Nate Koehn, the worst part of being a reaper is maintaining his compassion without becoming too involved with the souls in his charge. He’s always been sensitive to others’ hurts, and there is no hurt bigger than death, with which he’s already intimately familiar. The learning curve is steep, but the perks of the job—spending the next 300 years with the love of his life, his husband Mitch Seeker—are unmistakable. For Nate, death is a lifelong commitment.
Then Mitch is assigned to reap a serial killer’s victim.
Mitch and Nate are willing to go to just about any lengths to bring the killer to justice, but Divinity has a plan for everyone, and the reapers are at risk of being terminated themselves if they meddle too much. Mitch knows better than to tempt fate, but Nate isn’t wired to sit idly by while innocent people lose their lives to a vicious killer.
Nate sets out to balance the scales of justice for the souls in their charge, but what happens when he becomes the killer’s bug in the web? Can he stop a killer without exercising his own free will or putting those he loves in the crosshairs? Only Death knows, and he’s not talking.
Warning: Contains graphic descriptions of violence, which may be too intense for some readers. Reader discretion advised.
I’ve had this book sitting on my Kindle since its release date but I kept passing it over. Worried. Unsure if the chemistry and the wonderful characters established in Reaping Havoc would be the same, the world as good. I wish I’d read it earlier because it’s amazing and did Mitch and Nate proud. This is one good piece of writing, even better than book #1. Yep. Better. How often can you say that about a sequel? If you’re me, not often. I worry about characters I’m invested in because I love them. I live them. Breathe them. They become part of my life. I sometimes think about them… How are abc or xyz going? Is life good for them? Yeah, it is. Or, oh hell, no! Yes, I’ll freely admit I’m somewhat character obsessed. I love nothing more than life being breathed into fictional characters. If that happens, if there is passion, I’m a happy, happy reader. I had to put Reaping Fate down twice whilst reading, because of life and also because of sleep, and I kept thinking about how soon I could pick it up again. Bingo! That’s the mark of a book I love.
Reaping Havoc starts a year after Mitch and Nate have been reaping together, after Mitch took a kind of leave of absence from reaping to be with his new partner, now husband, Nate. Reapers are born into the business like the men in Mitch’s family, the Seeker family. However, there were extenuating circumstances that allowed Nathan Koehn into the reaping fold. If you want to know more about that book my review is here. Nate and Mitch meet the reaper who took up the slack in Caperville while Mitch was away. Sebastian and his very human husband Richard – it’s all explained previously how that can happen – are at the Las Vegas convention, or Reaper Con as it is nicknamed by the reaping community, for their annual Halloween get together. Sebastian is camp, flirty and fabulous. Mitch likes him immediately. Nate… not so much. As the reader you get an immediate impression of Sebastian because he has a larger than life on-page presence. Mitch and Nate’s initial reactions pretty well mirror how readers will likely relate to Sebastian as well. You actually learn a lot more about his character as the story progresses and that could change some minds. So if you’re not a Sebastian fan initially, hang in there. Sebastian and Richard are a great addition to the series. Wes Cooley, Nathan’s friend and a local police officer, has some more page time in this book and his long held disquiet regarding Mitch undergoes a metamorphosis. It’s good because Wes is one of those guys who is eminently likeable.
Mitch is called out for a reap one night. He does the usual of connecting with the person before their death, it’s so he can more easily tether their souls afterwards. The guy concerned, Logan, says he’s going for a hike at a private property a local has invited him to. When Mitch follows him the whole pre and post death situation is bizarre. The woman kills Logan, claims he’s been stalking her as she kills him, and tosses his body over a cliff. Mitch can’t and wouldn’t intervene, as that contravenes all the laws of reaping, and Divinity – their peak body. When Mitch claims the soul, Logan is upset and angry. The reapers can’t hear souls properly but some things are louder than words – actions, reactions, body language. Logan is upset, confused and pissed. Reapers need to get their allocated soul to a door so they can cross over. It’s not so easy, becomes more tricky, if the soul has unfinished business and goodbyes to see to. Logan has a strong need to say goodbye to his girlfriend, Kelly. This one particular reap made me really emotional. Logan was so upset, Kelly so worried and trying desperately to find her missing boyfriend.
While this reap creates concerns for Mitch, it really worries Nate. But they don’t exactly have a regularly scheduled life. They can be compassionate, yes, but too invested is not good. However, once Nate and Mitch discover that Sebastian has reaped more people linked to their resident serial killer, Nate has to do something. Mitch understands Nate’s overpowering need for justice. His husband was fully human until a short while ago and he also lost his beloved sister. They promise Logan something will happen about his murder before he moves on. This creates all kinds of ethical issues for the pair. Divinity has contracts with their reapers. They cannot exercise free will without major consequences. They can’t just go to the police with inside knowledge of people being murdered. If Mitch turns up and tells the police, tells Wes, that he knows where a body is, bodies are, and how they were killed, he’ll be arrested. The Seekers are around too many bodies in town as it is and it’s why Wes was unsure about Mitch for Nate in the first place.
“Yes!” he said grudgingly. “If we find something, we give it to Wes, and I let him deal with it. If we find nothing, I leave it be.”
“Okay, then,” Mitch conceded. “Let’s make this quick. It has ‘bad idea’ written all over it.”
I’ll leave actual plot alone here because it won’t translate as well in a review as the story reads. I also don’t want to spoil the book. I will say that the love between Mitch and Nate is beautiful. They are written like A.J. Rose loves this pair and that’s incredibly infectious. There isn’t a ton of sex but when it happens it is natural and completely organic, intimate and so very sexy. While no one is a perfection caricature, these are the nicest guys and even though they work together well, once a manipulative sociopath puts them in her crosshairs, tension builds. It is believable, wrought out of their dedication to their vocation, their family, their love for one another and the need to walk an ethical and bureaucratic paranormal/spiritual/human tightrope.
The suspense and tension build as the story progresses and the pace is perfect. The secondary characters all add dimension and life to the plot as well as humour and kinship and they’re all interesting. Wes is awesome. Troy deserves an Oscar for his work at the medical examiners office over one of the missing persons. I hope I read more and more about Sebastian and Richard, don’t kill off the silver fox A.J. Rose because I couldn’t take it or, God forbid, Sadie, Mitch’s (and now Nate’s) older dog – aka fur-noodle. Charlie, Mitch’s dad, is still golden. You can also add the location of Caperville, Colorado to the cast; it’s atmospheric and I always feel like I’m visiting while reading. I’m also giving a special shout-out to my gal Katherine, the angel Overseer of the reapers. She is tough but fair, she helps in clever ways. I love her attitude… and her parting signature feather.
This is a fantastic series and I hope it continues. Everything about it has me won over. I’m now a hopeless and hopeful devotee. Reaping Havoc was on my Books of the Year for 2015 and, in my opinion, Reaping Fate is better. The world building has been expanded on, the concept of death, the afterlife, the soul. There’s still more to come, based on questions asked by Mitch and Nate and alluded to by the tight-lipped but loop-hole loving Katherine. The main characters are wonderful, the secondaries value-add, the antagonist was unlikeable and I wanted them reaped!! I like having someone I can dislike a whole lot when that’s the idea. While the overall tone of the book is not dark, there are some gruesome moments and, as I mentioned earlier, I was emotional when Logan was killed and reaped. There are also some funny moments and there’s lots of love and friends having each other’s backs when needed. If the premise and the sound of my review piques your interest in any way, go grab a copy of Reaping Havoc and start the reaper journey because it’s totally worth it. 5 Stars!