Petru is an alpha wolf who works for Alpha Zale Zelinski. Harrison Carter, a member of Zale’s pack, recently vacationed at the exclusive Pearl resort, only to then receive pictures that seemed to show his wife in a scandalous embrace with another man on the beach. It was completely fabricated, but Zale’s brother-in-law and his husbands are leaving soon to honeymoon at The Pearl, and Zale worries they could be targeted too. Petru was already designated head of security for the entourage, but now he’s bringing along Carter’s nephew, Rael, a close lookalike for famous movie star and playboy, Marcus Ripley, to help investigate any shenanigans at The Pearl.
Rael isn’t a party boy like Marcus, but he’s game to figure out who tried to set up his aunt. He finds Petru attractive, but Rael is young and has been very sheltered; he won’t make any moves on an older, dominant man. And, that’s good, because the moment they set foot in The Pearl, it becomes clear that Petru has found his mate in Alvin Otterman, the head of entertainment at The Pearl. Alvin’s super flustered by this, yet thoroughly aroused, but his job is in jeopardy if he’s caught having a fling with Petru. The Pearl has had a saboteur on site, and all the staff is on notice to help catch the perpetrator.
While Petru enlists Rael to serve as a beard to hide his dallying with Alvin, Rael as “Marcus” has caught the eye of Jean-Luc, an ancient and possessive vampire. Jean-Luc wants all of “Marcus” to himself and Rael’s conflicted. He’s so attracted to Jean-Luc that it hurts–and the sex is amazing. But keeping up the charade as Marcus feels like lying to Jean-Luc, with whom he’s developing a bond. Pretending to be with Petru to hide the Alvin situation is definitely a ticking time bomb that could ruin everything with Jean-Luc as well. Rael doesn’t want to hurt anyone, or let his uncle down.
As Petru and Alvin cooperate to find the saboteur at The Pearl, Jean-Luc seems to be the villain’s latest target. It’s up to Rael and his newly made friends to help save the courtly vampire from dire consequences–and rescue their fledgling romance at the same time.
A Turn of the Screw is a novella in the Hot Bite collection featuring humans and paranormal beings finding love in unexpected places. This novella had A LOT of people with many different and unusual powers, two fated-mates romances, plus a mystery. The many side characters gave me the feeling there was a larger connected universe I had unexpectedly fallen into, and I was lost at times. The Rael/Marcus thing was confusing. I didn’t understand why he would masquerade as a famous man just to investigate problems at The Pearl. If anything, it seemed counterintuitive that Rael would want such a spotlight on him while trying to simultaneously be incognito. As a covert agent, Rael also didn’t seem too intuitive, constantly dismissing the creepy-crawly twinges he got, ones that should have alerted him to danger. Petru and Alvin seemed a bit more reasonable, acting in a way that was appropriately circumspect in order to keep Alvin from losing his job. The love stories were interesting, but the book started as a mystery and I felt that got pushed way back to allow for relationship building.
All together, the story was okay. It felt too busy and unnecessarily complicated for the novella format. I didn’t feel like I knew the characters well by the end, and that made it harder for me to connect with their dilemmas. The ending is definitely happy, though, with the saboteur brought to justice.