Review: Cardinal Sins (Hidden Gems #2) by Lissa Kasey

Paris Hansworth, star whore turned senator and the most powerful man in City M, has been hiding his terminal illness for years. Searching for a way to reverse the toxic environment that’s killing him, Paris stumbles upon a lost research facility, and a merman named Rain.

Years alone have made Rain long for companionship, and the beautiful man on the other side of the glass intrigues him. But Rain speaks the wrong language, and is decades out of touch. He isn’t quite sure what to think of the new environment he’s been thrust into.

As a virus spreads through the city targeting City M's most private residents—A-Ms—Paris realizes he’s out of time. He’s willing to sacrifice everything, even his own life, to stop it. But Rain might just be the missing DNA link to explain the mutations created in the last plague, maybe even the cure.

Watching Paris race to save his friends, Rain knows he's found someone special and will do anything to stay by his side. But the past Paris thought he’d escaped is seeking revenge, and he’s forced to adapt yet again, possibly even becoming a monster. He only hopes Rain will still want him.

This is a hard one for me to rate. There is so much to like about the second installment in this series-great world building, great suspense, great storytelling, great characters so much greatness! But there is one issue and that is it's unfocused.

Let me just stop right here and say after reading Hidden Gem there was one secondary character that stood out and that was Paris. Paris's rags to riches story coupled with his domineering personality and no nonsense attitude spoke to me. When I read the blurb and realized it was not only going to be Paris's story but there was to be a merman... well, let's just say I kinda whigged out. A tiny bit. In a completely dignified way.

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Paris is a senator now and an influential one but when he first came from the South to the North he worked as a whore at the Hidden Gem. His Southern family is affluent and chock full to the brim with asshats who made every effort to make his childhood and adolescence a living hell until finally kicking him out to fend for himself. He was rescued by Bart and has gone on to make his own family of rescues and strays.
Paris is also a dom but the BDSM strikes me as superfluous to the plot thus I'm not going to prattle on about it.

He uncovers a long forgotten near frozen facility with an aquarium which contains a merman named Rain who is the sweetest! I kinda wanted to stick him in my pocket but the whole no water in there would be problematic. And he's smitten with the pretty man a.k.a. Paris. 

Such is life.

It just so happens that Paris has recently bought a former casino (Cardinal Sins) with a huge empty aquarium.

For science Paris and his team bring the merman and all the other fishes to Cardinal Sins. Of course he and Rain are drawn to one another, but Paris has a debilitating illness which is incurable and is literally on his last legs, so he simply takes comfort in being able to see Rain on a regular basis. 

Where things began to falter was the virus that's sweeping the North which brings many A-Ms and psis to Cardinal Sins for treatment by Paris's on call doctor, Quinn Vitoric, including Shane which means Aki and Candy and his newest acquisition, Ivy. Quick side note:  a glossary of terms would be appropriate. I'm not sure if it made it into the final published version, if not it would be a good idea for the next installment.

Anyhoo... where was I? Oh right, subplots.

These two subplots got so much page time that they overtook the main. I found myself rushing to get through those chapters so I could get back to Paris and Rain. The subplots are interesting held my attention. I especially loved all the shifted Shane looking for Mate (Aki) and even howling mournfully for him. They are crazy, stupid in love and it's cavity inducing in it's sweetness. I am kind of a sucker for a possessive, growly alpha though. 


I know they're meant as set up for the grand finale as well as the next book, but there is such a thing as letting the teasing for the next book overwhelm the plot of the current one and that negatively affected my enjoyment. 

The other casualty of these subplots was minimal relationship development between Rain and Paris. The romance is more of an afterthought. The sex is mostly awkward. But the HEA at the end came out of nowhere and I found my suspension of disbelief button on the fritz.

The last 30-35% was much tighter and more what I was looking for which is Paris being a BAMF! If the whole thing had been that focused this would easily be a 5 Hearter. As it stands, I'm somewhere between 3-4 Hearts.  

In all likelihood, I will read the next one. Take that for what it's worth.

As always, your mileage may vary.

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

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