Lissa Kasey

Books: Fantasy | Mystery | LGBT

Haven Investigations: Model Citizen (2015), Model Bodyguard (2016), Model Investigator (2017), Model Exposure (2017)

Simply Crafty: Stalked by Shadows (2019), Marked by Shadows (2020), Possessed by Shadows (2021), Conventional Shadows (2022)

Romancing a Curse: Recipe for a Curse (2021), Heir to a Curse (2020), Reflection of a Curse (2022)

Haven Investigations

Model Citizen (2015)

Model CitizenOliver Petroskovic hoped that once he bought the house his life would start to be more settled. Sure, he'd do more modeling gigs, but with the house he was finally able to repay his brother for the years spent raising him.

He'd paid for private school and attended all of those early modeling sessions to protect me from predators.

But then Nathan is dead and Oliver's life is completely shattered.

There is a LOT of dark in this story: suicide, mental health issues, PTSD, sex work, and some pretty gruesome murders.

But it was also compelling and I had a hard time stopping reading.

Ollie is gender-fluid, which made him an sought-after model, but has also made his life difficult, as people expect him to be one thing, and he is far more than his feminine looks.

Ollie is also (although not named in the text) demi-sexual.

I needed a deeper connection to let anyone that close. Trust of some kind had to be established before I got into bed with anyone.

One thing I particularly liked was that Ollie had every reason to fear that Kade wouldn't stick around.

Just don't push me away because you think I'm leaving. I want to at least be your friend. At best… Well, I'll leave that up to you."

"Words, Kade. Nothing but words." He'd been around two days. What did he know?

But Kade actually recognizes how much the previous year damaged Ollie, and doesn't allow himself to be pushed away by Oliver's fears and snipping.

I also liked that although he was struggling, Ollie had friends who loved him and looked out for him as he struggled. He may have felt that someone in a romantic relationship might leave him, but he never had doubts about Will and Britney, and I very much appreciated that.

The murders were gruesome and in some cases Ollie sees them. He also accidentally sees some hardcore porn while trying to look into the goings-on at the reality "show" his friend from childhood is in.

So definitely not for everyone.

But I do want to read the next book–despite the ending of the book, not because of it.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 8/10

Model Bodyguard (2016)

Model BodyguardThe second book in the Haven Investigations series switches from Oliver's POV to Kade's POV. Which is fantastic, because Oliver sees Kade as strong and almost perfect, whereas Kade actually? A huge mess.

This was the stuff of nightmares— a mental hospital.

It wasn't my first trip. No, they'd put me there the first time at age eleven.  …  Will had snuck me out just before I'd completely lost my mind. Broken probably a half dozen laws to find me a safe place to heal and legitimate people to prove I wasn't nuts. My head was okay. Mostly. Better now that I had a home and something to live for. Someone to live for.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All the trigger warnings here. They're listed at the front of the book. I've tagged a bunch of them as well.

While Ollie was still considered on the thin side of normal for his height, he was perfectly healthy, no more possibilities of heart troubles or stroke because of malnutrition.

Bad things happen. HOWEVER. It's not torture porn. They are private investigators and take on a bodyguard case where Ollie's ex (the Rock Star) is getting some very ugly threatening things.

So not gratuitous, but it happens.

But what this story–and this series–does so very well is looking at the damage that both Kade and Ollie have, how they deal with it, and how each views the other.

The few times (Ollie)'d accompanied me to rehab had been brutal and left him shaking with tension by the time I was done.

This single sentence is actually really important and tells you how Kade feels like he needs to protect Ollie–and it's not an unfounded fear that Kade's pain will cause Ollie further damage, since Ollie still has not recovered from losing his brother to PTSD and suicide.

So very many little things just dropped into the story.

Sometimes I think Ollie still believed that sex equated to love, when it didn't.

Another thing I really liked about this story is just how complicated Jacob–Ollie's ex–is in this story and later books.

"But he's being nice by taking care of his family."

I had to glance up into the rearview mirror to see Kisten shrug. "I think they all use his kink as an excuse to keep him on a short leash."

"What do you mean by that?"

"He takes care of them and they don't go blabbing.

Points off, however, for ending on a cliffhanger.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 8.5/10

Model Investigator (2017)

Model InvestigatorBack to Ollie, this book takes off after the events of the previous book–which ended on a cliffhanger.

First and foremost, this is one of the few mysteries I've ever read that actually has characters deal with some of the real-life consequences of repeated concussion.

The sparkles around the edges of my vision were sort of becoming the norm. I didn't really notice them much anymore unless I was trying to find something and got distracted by them, like I was in that moment as I stood in my bedroom closet. It was like if I stared long enough at the edges, the sparkle would fade. Only it never did, it sort of intensified the longer I focused on it, eating away at my vision until eventually I'd lose use of at least one eye. Sometimes both.

Ollie's second serious concussion only a few months after his previous causes serious and long-term damage.

Also, the mystery continues. I've barely mentioned the mystery in these reviews, because I love the interactions and relationships in these stories so very much, but the mystery is also worth noting. Here Ollie is trying to figure out why everyone thinks Kade was a monster who beat people up and tortured animals.

But as with the previous books, Kade and Ollie are still trying to protect each other from their struggles.

It was a bad feeling, knowing the depression had crept up and was already drowning me before I had realized it.

Once again, as soon as I finished this book I bought the next and immediately started reading.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 9/10

Model Exposure (2017)

Model ExposureThis picks up immediately after the end of the previous book. Ollie is healing, but so is Kade.

But Kade doesn't like having to admit that he needs help, and fears that if he needs help, he'll lose Ollie.

"Ollie needs me." He was healing from a (thing). He had blackouts, memory loss, and sometimes a complete bipolar change of his emotions. He needed me to be solid so he could heal.

"There's no reason you can't be there for Ollie while you're healing. You both need to take it slow," Jolanda said.

"He needs me to be solid. His rock."

"And you need him to be yours. Why can't it be an exchange? Don't you trust him?"

"What do you fear he'll do if you tell him just how bad off you are right now?"

Leave me. Oh God, I'd really fall apart. I was only holding it together because I went home to him every day, curled up on the chaise with him, cuddled on the couch with him and our cat, Newt. Ollie's smile, the subtle turn of his head, the way he canted his hips when he leaned against the counter to talk to me…

The last book exposed Kade's past, this final book gives us Ollie's past, as her learns that his life was not what he thought.

I'll be honest, I finished the book past my bed time, then the next day re-read a bunch of chapters, figuring out what had actually happened and why.

This book was kinda brutal for me, but not necessarily in a bad way.

"You know that little questionnaire you get every time you go in? You're supposed to answer that honestly, not mark what you think you should feel."

I had thought it was just me. That it was my place to fix what was wrong with me. That I'd been given help and it was my fault it wasn't working because I wasn't trying hard enough.

This was a very good–if very hard–series. It's been a day and I still can't quite get it out of my head.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 9/10

Simply Crafty

Stalked by Shadows (2019)

Stalked by ShadowsAlexis Caine received a medical discharge from the army after witnessing an attack that the government insisted could not have happened the way he stated. After a stint in a mental hospital, he goes home with his twin, to try and restart his life.

My social services coordinator had given me the grim fact that over 70% of ex-Rangers were unemployed.

Micah Richards runs a small craft shop and gives ghost and cemetery tours in New Orleans. And according to Lukas (Alex's twin) not only will Alexis make a good bodyguard for the tours, he things Alex and Micah would also make a good couple.

"You seem to know a lot of history."

"I majored in history. Had plans to become a teacher."

But Micah also has a strange supernatural experience in his past, which still haunts him.

When a woman disappears, it appears Micah and Alexi might be have clues in their pasts to what is happening now.

Assuming they survive events.

I'm not lead detective on it because you're involved and the department is a little pissed at me."


"Because while Micah was wrapped around you to keep you from getting shot, I was standing in their line of fire."

As all the other books by her I've read, she has great mental health rep with her characters.

We aren't saving the planet or humanity, we aren't changing the world, we are barely making it through each day. But you know what?" I asked him as I ran my fingers through his hair. "That's okay. We are doing the best we can being us."

There's something so amazingly reassuring, reading about characters who are struggling, but still get through they day.

His fight or flight mode was shutting down. Too much stress did that sometimes. Had that happen to me a time or two, so overwhelmed that I couldn't function, even breathing was hard when that happened. Sort of like a panic attack, only silent, a mental collapse inward.

The reminder that things cycle, and it's okay if you have a bad day (week, month) because you'll eventually come out the other side.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 7.5/10

Marked by Shadows (2020)

Marked by ShadowsMicah has a complicated past. But he's happy where he is now: running a craft shop and spending time with Alexis. Even if the ghost tours can be a little stressful.

I watched other ghost hunters, or paranormal enthusiasts as they called themselves, do something called 'provoking the spirits.' This often entailed a Ouija board or some sort of angry verbal attack. I thought of it mainly as an American thing. Though I'd seen a few European ghost groups do the same.

The idea that attacking the dead, if that was what they were, was a good idea, stunned me.

But Alex's disappearance took a toll on everyone, and so Micah hopes that getting away for a craft expo will give them both some needed down time. And maybe allow him to get back into cosplay design–although not the kind of work he'd been doing when he met most of the crafting group he is going to meet up with.

"Do you want me to drive?"

"No." Alex's PTSD could trigger him and render him completely incoherent. As far as I knew, he was not allowed to drive, though Lukas had said something about Alex being able to test to get his license back."

Unfortunately, trouble seems to be following them, when two members of the cosplay group disappear without a trace.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 8/10

Possessed by Shadows (2021)

Possessed by ShadowsAlex may be content trying to let his past go, but his brother isn't.

He'd decided to go from police homicide detective, to paranormal detective. I was not a fan. But he didn't see the same sort of stuff I did, and it seemed to be a goal to either prove me right, or crazy. I wasn't sure.

Unfortunately, Lukas has become obsessed, and that doesn't turn out well for Alex or Micah.

As with the previous books, this story has fantastic mental health rep.

My brain immediately jumping to the worst scenario. My therapist often reminded me that it took years to retrain negative behavior. Obviously I still needed to work on that.

Although there remains unfinished business, the main arc of the story is completed, and things even end on a good note between Lucas and Alex.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 8/10

Conventional Shadows (2022)

Conventional ShadowsAlex and Micah are taking a trip to an anime convention–one that will hopefully go better than the previous convention they went to, which ended up with Alex bringing home a ghost cat.

Alex is still learning about crafting, but is more than happy to model the outfits Micah creates for him–even if he isn't sure about walking around in a gender-bent Star Wars costume.

But both remain worried about ghosts and spooks and spirits, and neither is delighted when another con-goer asks them to check if their room is haunted.

This short story is mainly about Alex and Micah going to the con, and the costuming and convention.

Which is fun.

The interesting thing about the ghost is that despite what it turns out to be, Alex & Micah are both somewhat afraid of it. With good reason, mind you, considering their pasts.

This isn't a place to jump into the series, but more of a slice of their lives outside of the main stories.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 7/10

Romancing a Curse     

Recipe for a Curse (2021)

Recipe for a CurseI downloaded this novella as part of a Winter Wonderland giveaway of holiday short stories and novellas. As the first story I read wasn't good, I haven't expected too much from the other stories I've read.

Montana works as a chef for a retreat in a small town. Like several others of the employees, he lives at the manor and as it's the holidays, he is just making food for the staff. When he takes his weekly delivery to the food pantry he notices that Rio–a local recluse and vet–isn't there. So worried, he decides to take a delivery of food out to his trailer.

This story unfolds slowly, all from Montana's point-of-view. As a reader of supernatural fantasy, you pick up on what's happening, however, Montana behaves as any of is might in that situation, assuming Rio's problem is PTSD combined with some medical issue that leaves him hungry all the time.

It's extremely well done.

As well done are all the food bits, which I absolutely adored. He's a chef, but he bakes as a hobby, and all the food sounded delicious and marvelous. Which means I'm really craving sweet rolls now.

I will definitely look for other books by this author.

Publisher: LK Publishing

Rating: 8/10

Heir to a Curse (2020)

Heir to a CurseThis story is set during the pandemic.

Zach Frank is struggling with inheriting a cursed house. Not just–or even mostly–because of the curse, but because of the loss of the woman who left the house to him. The woman who was to all intents and purposes the only mother he ever had.

Now the section of her tree that should have ended had a branch extending from it, with my name scrawled beneath it.

Not that the curse is a small thing.

Mr. Yamamoto opened the side door to the kitchen. The damage was worse than I thought. Fire had eaten away a lot of the sidewall, all the cabinets and appliances, and a good portion of underlayment of the floor, leaving it all unstable and dangerous to walk on. We all huddled just inside the doorway.

"Wow. I thought they said it only burned twenty minutes or so," Jerry said.

"Yes," Mr. Yamamoto agreed. "However, the fire chief said it burned really hot."

Sofia wanted the mansion to be a place of love and happiness, but her family curse kept it from being either a home or a business.

At the start of the story, most of the fantasy happens in dreams, and Zach has dreams that feel more like memories, and the people in those dreams start bleeding over into the waking world.

One thing I particularly liked was how the story dealt with both the pandemic and Zach's grief. I'll be honest, having the pandemic in the story was jarring–especially in a fantasy. But the pandemic was part of what made Zach's grief complicated, since he was unable to be near Sofia in her final days.

Perhaps my head was broken from the grief. If so, I'd seek out a therapist and see if talking it out could fix it.

The major problem I had with the story was the editing. There were a couple bits that appeared twice in the story, which threw me completely out as I was trying to figure out what was happening.

The other issue was that Zach kept calling himself an asshole, when every action we saw him take as the opposite of that. It's possible he believed himself to be an asshole because of his buried memories of his past lives, or because he'd been abandoned both by his birth parents and his first foster family. But in his actions he was anything but an asshole.

So an interesting story, even with the editing issues.

Publisher: Layer Kake Publishing, LLC

Rating: 7/10

Reflection of a Curse (2022)

Reflection of a CurseAfter getting the second story in this series for free last winter, I've been getting Lissa Kasey's newsletter, and in the fall she started sharing chapters of this story in the news letter, and to her Patreon followers.

About six chapters in I finally started reading, and enjoyed it as much as the first book of hers I had read. This is set about a year after Recipe for a Curse.

Brand is on his way up to the manor where his friend Montana has gotten him a job, helping to design and build little houses.

Brand had jumped on the job with its proximity to Montana, even though the pay was peanuts compared to what he used to make from his influencer lifestyle. Health insurance.

After catching COVID, Brand spent months in the hospital and lost everything except his truck and his youngest dog, Hunter.

"You believe all that?"

"Lots of wild stuff happens we never expect. You believed the virus wasn't real."

He doesn't understand why these people have elected to take him in on Montana's word, but is glad they have done so, even if he doesn't really believe he is deserving of their kindnesses.

He hated, and envied, his old self all at the same time. Years of good health with little work to maintain it. He had hardly ever gotten a cold.

To be clear, Brand's health has been destroyed, but he also does feel ashamed of the person he had been before getting sick, and wants to become the kind of friend Montana deserves. It's a true change, which makes it easier to deal with the fact that he got so sick because he didn't believe in the severity of the danger.

One of the things I especially liked is how it is made clear that Brand's recovery is glacial–and he is permanently damaged from the illness. There is no magic to make things better, only an acceptance of how things are now, and learning to live with it.

That may sound like a strange thing to like, but it's hopeful in a realistic way. Because in life bad things happen, and we are never the same person after, but life can still be good.

I also like that you the reader–knowing this is a fantasy–are sure that Law is not human. But as the magic is hidden from people like Brand, it's completely reasonable for him not to suspect anything. That part is very well done and quite enjoyable to watch Brand discover that magic exists in the world.

You can easily read this if you have not read the previous books (although I really like Montana's story) and when it's available I recommend it!

Rating: 8/10