Release Day Review by Rafa: Absinthe of Malice, by Rhys Ford

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Absinthe of Malice

Absinthe of Malice, by Rhys Ford
Series: Sinners, Book #5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 22, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


We’re getting the band back together.

Those six words send a chill down Miki St. John’s spine, especially when they’re spoken with a nearly religious fervor by his brother-in-all-but-blood, Damien Mitchell. However, those words were nothing compared to what Damien says next.Absinthe of Malice full.jpg

And we’re going on tour.

When Crossroads Gin hits the road, Damien hopes it will draw them closer together. There’s something magical about being on tour, especially when traveling in a van with no roadies, managers, or lovers to act as a buffer. The band is already close, but Damien knows they can be more—brothers of sorts, bound not only by familial ties but by their intense love for music.

As they travel from gig to gig, the band is haunted by past mistakes and personal demons, but they forge on. For Miki, Damie, Forest, and Rafe, the stage is where they all truly come alive, and the music they play is as important to them as the air they breathe.

But those demons and troubles won’t leave them alone, and with every mile under their belts, the band faces its greatest challenge—overcoming their deepest flaws and not killing one another along the way.


M/M Pairing
Gay Characters
Rock Musicians

As a fan of the Sinners series, reading this book felt a lot like coming home. I hadn’t realized how much I had treasured the stolen verses or bits of late-night conversation between Miki and Damien at the beginning of each chapter. As the boys take their new band Crossroads Gin on the road, I took a very pleasant trip along with them – down memory lane.

Absinthe of Malice is a journey, not only for the reader but also for the band. It tracks Miki, Damien, Forest and Rafe as they perform in dive bars and crash in fleabag motels across the country. The tour is eventful to say the least, and it is made clear from the start that these guys do not have the luck o’ their Irish better halves.  Their string of bad luck only seems to escalate the farther they travel, and thoughts of foul play definitely come to mind.

One of my favorite things about the book was seeing the four men interact with one another as a touring band. If you’re reading this book, you’re presumably familiar with each of their love stories with the men of the Morgan clan. This book definitely switches gears and concentrates on Miki, Damien, Forest and Rafe as a unit. Fans of Kane, Sionn, Connor and Quinn need not worry however, as they each figure into the story and help ease the band’s savage souls (and ours).

Even though the book spends time in each band member’s head, Miki is clearly the central focus of the story. Absinthe of Malice revisits his past struggles in Book 1, including memories of the horrific car crash that took the original members of Sinner’s Gin away from him, and it immediately made me want to reread Sinner’s Gin and the rest of the series from the start.

I found the story’s path a bit meandering at times, but for the most part I enjoyed the scenic route in the form of Ford’s lyrical, evocative prose. Still, there were definitely moments when I felt the sumptuous language fell flat and came off sounding just plain verbose. And I hate to say it, but I was not a fan of the way the book ended – or the way it didn’t end, I should say. Not knowing any better, I had thought perhaps this book would serve as a swan song to wrap up this wonderful series. Instead of tying up loose ends, Absinthe of Malice simply raised more questions.

So basically, the bad news is… There’s a cliffhanger ending.

And the good news? There’s more Miki and company in our future.

If you’re a fan of the series like me, then chances are the good outweighs the bad.


Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.

You can learn more about Rhys Ford at their website.

You can purchase Absinthe of Malice from:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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