Levi Bell can see a person’s soul just by looking into their eyes. In Monroe Poirier’s eyes, he sees the devil himself.
When Monroe moves back to the small Southern town of Malcome, Levi is repelled by the darkness of the stranger’s soul. But Levi is cursed to love things dark and wicked, and he’s seduced each time he looks into Monroe’s eyes—and drawn to the swamp behind the old Poirier house.
As strange occurrences begin to happen when shadows and visions visit him in the night, Levi sees a flicker of something good in Monroe’s soul. But the need to submerge himself in the swamp’s murky waters grows stronger as Levi’s desire for Monroe becomes unbearable.
In his struggles to help Monroe save his soul, Levi will have to decide if it’s worth losing his own.
I turned toward the bar, and sure as rain, Monroe was sitting there on a three-legged stool, long legs perched on the slats. He hadn’t yet seen me. The sick feeling in my stomach twisted and turned. I could leave and he wouldn’t know I’d been here. But somehow that felt impossible. And wrong. His shoulders were slumped, as usual. His head hung low as he stared into his half-full pint of honey-colored liquid. What would’ve been considered a five-o’clock shadow yesterday peppered his chin along his tight jaw. The stools all around him were vacant. The rest of the bar was busy with laughter.
When I slung my bag off my shoulder and sat down on the stool next to his, I didn’t think he even noticed me. He was absolutely transfixed, staring into his beer.
“Monroe,” I said gently. I reached out and touched his arm.
He flinched back, his head snapping up to look at me. “Levi. I didn’t see you.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Trying to remind myself why I came back to Malcome.”
“Think of anything yet?”
He smiled sadly, his gaze sweeping over my face. “On the fence.”
“Can I get you something?” the gruff bartender asked. He wiped the counter in front of me with a dirty rag that looked more coated in grime than the countertop.
“A beer, please.” Turning back to Monroe, I asked, “So, why did you come back?”
He shrugged, took a sip of his drink. “Nowhere else to go—nothing else to my name. Nothing but that house.”
“You haven’t met anyone else since you’ve been gone? No friends?”
“Not really. Decent people can tell something ain’t right with me.”
For a split second, I wanted to tell him that that wasn’t true, that there was nothing wrong with him. But we both knew it would’ve been a lie. There was something very wrong with Monroe Poirier. He was a polished, shining new car, with the inside rusted throughout.
The bartender set the beer down and stalked off. Monroe watched as I brought the beer to my lips.
“So,” he said, “what’s a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?”
I shot him a look. “I’m not a boy.”
He took a swig of his beer and grinned. “Younger than me.”
“Maybe by a few years.”
“It’s those eyes, I think. They make you look young.”
“Where’d you go after you left Malcome?”
He paused for a moment. “New York.”
“What’d you do up there?”
“Learned a bit about cars. Met a man in Addison who owned a garage. Taught me how to do a few things with engines. Taken ’em apart, put ’em back together. That sort of thing.”
“Is that what you’re going to do now that you’re back in Malcome?”
He shrugged. “Figured I’d give it a shot. Work out of my garage. I can’t imagine most folks around here are willing to give me a chance, but I’m a good mechanic. They’ll come to me if they’re desperate enough.”
The bubbles floated to the top of my beer glass and popped when they touched the air. I swirled it around, both hands on the pint glass as I stared down at the bottom of the glass. “What’d you do when you left all those years ago? You were only—what—eight or nine? How did you get by on your own?”
Monroe turned toward me. He pushed his hair back off his face. The grin he gave me was practiced, fake, and effective. It stirred up that longing in my gut, shot into every nerve ending in my body. I felt that smile like he’d just run his fingertips up the back of my spine.
“What do you think I did, Levi?” His eyes were dead, clear pools. Nothing lurked there but emptiness, not even the darkness of his soul.
I swallowed hard. “Never mind. Forget I asked.”
Monroe turned back toward the bar as if he’d instantly forgotten. I could tell by the set of his jaw that he hadn’t.
My heart sped. A sick feeling settled in my stomach, but not like one I usually felt when Monroe was around. I’d upset him.
“You know,” I said feigning casualty. “Dogs are good judges of character. And Coin seems pretty fond of you, so you can’t be all bad.”
Monroe threw his head back and laughed. “My, Levi. You say the sweetest things. Did saying something almost nice to me sting that bad?”
“It hurt a little.”
“Coin’s a great dog,” he said. “The best. I doubt there’s a better one out there. Can you believe I found him on the side of the road? Some jackass left him in a box in an alley. He was cryin’ the blues when I walked by. I got one look at him, at those big blue eyes, and knew it would’ve been impossible to leave him there.”
Monroe’s eyes were the same color, that disarming blue.
“What breed is he?”
“Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. Pure bred, the vet told me. Not that I give a damn. He could be a mutt and I’d love him just the same.”
I couldn’t help the grin that broke across my face.
Review by Elaine White
Book – Poison Tongue (Afflicted Souls #1)
Author – Nash Summers
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 200
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 1st person, one character POV
Would I read it again – Yes.
Genre – LGBT, Voodoo, Paranormal, Ghost, Spiritual, MM, Romance
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE PUBLISHER, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
This was an adventure and a half.
I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of 1st person and this story has an example of why. It took 3% for us to find out “our” (the MC’s) name and gender. There was no other indication until that point of who “we” were supposed to be, how old, what “we” looked like or who “we” were. It made that first 3% more difficult to visualize.
However, other than that, this was a fantastic glimpse into the bayou, voodoo and the supernatural prospect of being able to see someone’s soul through their eyes. Levi was an intriguing character that held my attention the whole way through. He was smart, witty and captivating to read while having a morbid fascination with ‘death’ and the swamp. His dreams, nightmares, and fears were all laid out for us to witness, allowing us a deeper insight into his needs and psyche.
Similarly, Monroe was just as intriguing. Full of darkness, but with a sparkle of light, he was often more than Levi could handle. Yet, the fact that they worked so well together, bringing darkness and pain to each other that they reveled in, really worked.
The relationship between the MC’s isn’t your cookie cutter damned-man and rescuer. It’s more equal than that. With Monroe dirtying up Levi’s already dark soul with more burning desire than he can stand. While Levi brings light and a little bit of justification to Monroe’s darkness; an excuse and ample opportunity to let that darkness out.
The storytelling was fantastic, I didn’t notice any grammar/spelling issues which is a miracle, and all of the side characters had their place. There wasn’t anyone who was useless, any situation that was ridiculous or unimaginable, and no question left unanswered. I really loved the depth of exploration into the practice of hoodoo/voodoo and the way that it was shown in a positive light, without sugar coating the risks, dangers and responsibilities it entails.
Overall, it was a perfect blend of dropping us into the darkness of the swamp and making us love it. Crave it. And wait with baited breath for book two.
“He was cataclysmically handsome. But the wicked things always were.”
“I hoped my soul would forgive me for giving my heart to the devil.”
““I’ll never let anyone hurt you, Levi.”
“I know,” I replied breathlessly.
Meet Nash Summers
Nash Summers rarely has any idea what she’s doing. But when she likes to pretend, she pretends by writing stories at the pace of drying paint. As if that wasn’t exhilarating enough, Nash also enjoys absolute silence, general politeness, and waiting her turn in line.
Needless to say, she’s a bona fide hell raiser.