Rating: 4.5 stars
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Cameron “Candy” Michelson, Jr. is trying to change his ways just a little. He went from being a full-time companion to running a business. Candy is currently in charge of The Hidden Gem and he’s trying to clean up the red-light district in City M. He’s constantly busy, but he wants to make time for Ivy, the companion he rescued from a low-end brothel. Candy and Ivy have become close, but after the events of the last virus, Ivy has also become close to investigator, Jack. Candy is outrageously jealous of the time Ivy spends with Jack and Candy is also interested in Jack himself.
Ivy is in love with Candy and trying to satisfy Candy’s libido is a full-time job. Jack is more interested in companionship and cuddling and it doesn’t take Ivy long to fall for Jack as well. Ivy really wants the three of them to be together, but meshing all of their personalities would require some serious maneuvering.
But before the men can even think of a future together, there is a larger issue of a killer on the loose who is murdering companions and Candy is questioned as a suspect. As the world shifts beneath their feet once again, no one and nowhere seems safe for even the government continues to be corrupt. And, with genetic mutations constantly evolving, it’s anyone’s guess what creature they may encounter next.
The above description merely touches on what this book represents. Candy Land is the third book in Lissa Kasey’s Hidden Gem series and the magic of this book is how dependent it is on the first two. While this is more of Candy’s story, it is also an ensemble book as all of the characters return to not only finish their own stories, but to add to Candy’s. The author not only weaves in personal relationships, but also continues on with the world building and the overall larger arc of the government and those that have been genetically mutated.
The previous book already gave us background on Candy, but here he has a new look and a new purpose and Ivy misses Candy’s color and uniqueness. We then get more on Jack as well as Ivy. Both of their stories are filled with despair, but they have both come far and are managing the best they can with remarkably uplifted spirits. Jack is a loner. He’s survived for years as an unwillingly participant in a lab for human testing, and even though he’s an investigator tracking down brutal crimes, he likes the quieter things in life. He likes companionship and cuddling and enjoys reading to Ivy under a blanket. He is able to give Ivy, and then Candy, what they need but will never suggest or initiate physical intimacy.
So a portion of the story is the three men figuring out how they can have a relationship. There is a strong connection that develops between all three of them due to many intense circumstances. Another portion of the story is City M and how it is evolving right along with its inhabitants. The story is filled with fantasy and sci-fi elements and answers are revealed to long-held questions that have had an arc throughout the entire series. Aki is still a critical element and his past and continued evolution are also in the forefront of the story.
There is an epic battle of what could be seen as good versus evil and while the action scenes were captivating, at the end I was looking for a bit more. The serial killer storyline opened the book, but then the resolution of that fizzled out a bit for me with everything else going on that was more intriguing from my view. There were also a few areas on the relationship side of things that I was looking for just a touch more at the end, like another scene between Aki and Candy to pull the friendship that started this series fully back around.
The world Kasey created here is unique as well as fascinating. It is to her credit as well as skill that she was able to progress the entire arc of the story while also tying up many storylines. There is action and suspense as danger is never far away for any character at any given time. Ultimately, this is a series for lovers of fantasy who look for dynamic and engaging characters, coupled with a strong, diverse storyline filled with both action as well as romance.