Review: Hidden Gem by Lissa Kasey

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.

The book that held me hostage.

This is one of those books that "happened" for me. It reeled me in from the beginning. I tried to resist, tried to read something else, but even when we separated I couldn't stop thinking about it. I guess you could say I became a little obsessed.

Hidden Gem has two story lines-the post-apocalyptic/dystopian world in which these characters live with all its political machinations and the serial killer case. The romance between Shane and Aki is interwoven between the two and provides respite from the frenetic pace, but if you're looking for oodles of romance, look elsewhere.

Aki fascinated me from the start. I knew he had to be the link between these two story lines. Damned if I could figure out how, but I do like a challenge. I also like puzzles and there are a million pieces to be put together in this story. Loads of information is thrown out and at times I felt a little overwhelmed. Even up until the very end my head was still spinning. I like when a book can surprise me again and again. Who wants dull?

Aki is a companion at the Hidden Gem. He's the most sought out companion owing, ostensibly, to his great beauty. His psi abilities preclude him from touching someone due to his clairvoyance, so no sex. Lots of gloves-both kinds. Aki has been feminized by the club to increase his desirability which means… yup! You guessed it. MANTIES!!!!!!!!!!! He also has a shoe fetish. More bonus points there.

Shane has been working missing persons for so long he has attained legendary status. He's been called in to track down a serial killer targeting wealthy kids. Shane has been utilizing Aki's services for two years. They've grown fond of each other, though Aki is wary of Shane. Aki is also submissive. The BDSM elements are mild D/s, nothing that'll send anyone screaming for the hills, but a large component of Aki's reluctance to get closer to Shane is his uncertainty that Shane will be able to provide the structure, dominance and discipline he needs.

They live in the North in City M. All cities are only designated by letters now. The North and South are in discord. The governments have launched countless projects over the years which have resulted in numerous mutations. Layer upon layer is added to the world building, each more astounding. The story is woven together so intricately. I picked up threads here, there and yon all of which had meaning, but I failed to put it together completely.

Paris was the standout secondary character for me. I'd love to know more about him. I'd also love to know what went down at his country home between him and Shane. Kinda fussy that all went down off the page. Candy has his charms and adds to the tension. I love that he's not what he appears at first glance.

Why not give it 5 Hearts then? I still have questions. I'm not sure if that's purposeful or an oversight. Plus, the overarching message conveyed in this book is 'the government knows everything' which seems to be contradicted. I have trouble believing an omnipotent entity would've lost track of something so unique and potentially lethal. Nevertheless, I cannot in good faith go lower than 4.5 Hearts because of the journey that Ms. Kasey took me on, the world she showed me and how much it captivated me or held me hostage. Tomato. Tomahto.

Truth be told, I'm still thinking about it. I'd really like to re-read it and see what I missed things or if things make more sense now that I "know". I bet thhis would make for an excellent discussion/buddy read book.

Post-apocalyptic, dystopian and thriller fans get ready to sink your teeth into this one.

A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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*Artwork by Heise.

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