Greetings Chapterlings! SURPRISE! If you noticed me talking about a secret project and thought it was related to this series, then you would be correct! At the end of 2022, I started working on this secret project (this post) and started reading this series. This shouldn’t be anything new for those who have been here for a while, but if you’re new, from time to time I like to do series reviews. I’m once again returning to my series review posts, with a twist, but this time I’m bringing you monster romance. It should be no surprise that I’m a lover of all things monster, cryptids, things that go bump in the night – whatever genre it may be, I’m shortly following behind.
I’m so excited to finally, FINALLY be talking about this series, sharing my thoughts with all of you, and officially announcing that this might just be my favorite series I’ve ever read, thus far, this year! Without further delays, I hope you enjoy this series post with all five reviews for each book in this series with their content/trigger warnings!
Quick note: Props to the author for providing some their own content/trigger warnings at the beginning of these books!
✨ Not So Kind Regards (Warts & Claws Inc. #1) by Clio Evans
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, slut shaming, violence, kidnapping, captivity, death, mentions/depictions of blood
Look, let me be the first one to tell you that this book, the first book in this series, will either make you love this series as a whole or you’re not going to vibe with it at all. I don’t see anyone going to the in-between when it comes to this series. For me, I absolutely loved it! I’m trash for some good polyam, monster wham bam thank you Sam (no idea who Sam is) fun times. And that’s what I got out of this book. Some fun, polyamorous, monster smexy times with some plot on the side. Yes PLEASE!
“Fuck, the way she set boundaries and rules was beyond sexy.”
Our story begins on a Monday and all hell is about to break loose when Inferna rolls into work only to find out her coffee pot has been stolen by the witches on the floor above. Only when she burst in to retrieve her coffee pot does she find the head witch, Art and a coworker, Calen, in some naughty affairs. That’s not the only spicy thing happening in the office, with a merger happening and forcing the two departments together, these three will find themselves in some heated encounters, but they’ll soon notice something is off in the office when strange things begin to happen and threatening everything these three have come to cherish.
“I had been alone for a very long time and it was uncomfortable to think of relying on others. But… It also felt good. It felt like magic, the kind that was used to heal.”
Can I just take a moment to emphasize the representation in this book? Not only do we have polyamory, but almost every character in this book has to be either bisexual or pansexual. I am living for every little bit of it! Even in side character mentions, Inferna has two fathers, there’s brief discussions of being attracted to various genders and different types of monsters. It’s so good and this is a continuous theme throughout the entire series. I really loved the fact the author went all out because we truly don’t see enough bi, pan, and polyam representation in books, truly. It just made my heart so full and have a lot of appreciation.
Character wise, I thought the way Inferna, Art, and Calen’s personalities came together was beautifully done. I love when opposite personalities balance each other out and we see that with these three. I also want to say that this is a common theme throughout the series as a whole. A lot of the characters you’ll be introduced to have various personality traits and when you see them with their mates, including in this book, they just have a good balance with one another. Almost like they ground each other in their own ways. I really loved it and loved seeing these characters get intimate with one another and I mean that in all aspects, not just spicy times.
Let’s be real though, I know why you’re here on this review, you want the juicy details of the steamy, smexy times. Oh there are a plenty of steamy, smexy times, but… I feel like I should warn you that Inferna’s vajayjay has teeth and if that’s something that throws you out of the experience, well, I’m sorry. Not to mention, there’s also a storyline plot that’s happening along with the smexy times. So if you’re someone who’s only here for the spicy, this could potentially pull you out of the steamy monster fun. Neither of these were an issue for me. When I went into this book and the series as a whole, I knew I just wanted to have a fun time whether that be with spicy times or story plot times, and that’s what I got. I had a lot of fun reading both aspects of this book.
Overall, I don’t want to spoil anything so this is a very short, vague review. As I mentioned before, this book is the stepping stone of whether or not you’re going to vibe with the rest of the series. For me, I truly loved this series as a whole. This book made me eager to read the rest of the series and I found it really hard to put it down. My only struggle was flying through them so fast and having to wait for the last two books in the series to release. It was a fun time though and I think if you love monster romances then you should give this book a chance.
✨ Not So Best Wishes (Warts & Claws Inc. #2) by Clio Evans
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, violence, kidnapping, captivity, mentions/depictions of blood, mentions of toxic/abusive relationship (in the past)
This is probably my favorite book out of the whole series! I fell in love with Lora, Mich, and Cinder so hard. I think I read this within twenty-four hours after picking it up, potentially a little less than that. There was just something about these three that really hit parts of my soul and even now I’m tempted to pick it up again just to reread it. I also want to point out that the cover hit the mark of what I envisioned all three of them looking like and it’s just everything!
“Damn it. It was too early to be in the elevator with someone this pretty.”
Like all the books in this series, it’s once again a Monday morning. Book one delivered us some chaos and now, book two is here to make things a lot more interesting. Starting with our goth fae/demon, Lora, who’s having a pretty rough morning, but ends up sharing an elevator with the tall and handsome manticore, Mich, and the new HR representative, Cinder. The chemistry between these three is thick like soup and that one moment in the elevator spurs a whirlwind of events into motion. Secrets, blackmail, and love are sure to ensue with this trio.
“Fuck, I had a thing for goth pixie girls.”
Whew, where do I even begin with this book. There’s so much I loved about it. Sure, the spicy times were great, but for this particular book, there was so much more. There was so much trust building between these three characters. Not just continuing the trend from book one of setting boundaries, asking for consent, setting safe words, etc… but these three characters really worked on trusting each other, being vulnerable with each other about their pasts and the things happening to them, and protecting one another. It was probably my most favorite thing of this entire book. Even more so in the regards of Lora because the pieces we get about her backstory, her past relationship, I felt so connected to her and I was rooting for her to get the happy ending that she truly deserved. Seeing everything play out the way they did, I cried a lot. I was really emotional, soft and squishy about it all.
Also, let me say that I love that we have a non-binary character getting the spotlight. Cinder is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns in this book. I loved how the author, right out of the gate, the first time these three characters are getting to know one another, have this conversation and just filled my chest with so much warmth to see it respected immediately. Of course, this happened while they were discussing boundaries and things for spicy times, but honestly, I think the timing for it was really good and natural. All things about this book considered, I can’t picture this conversation happening at any other time in this book, and that includes the beginning with the elevator scene.
“Being vulnerable was hard. Being honest was hard. But with the two of them, it was safe.”
Speaking of spicy times, again, the theme of the story plot continues throughout this whole series. So don’t be surprised about that happening with all the books. However, the tone in the smexy times in this book is different compared to most of the books in this series. For me, these scenes, despite how spicy and hot they were, felt very raw and almost have a vulnerable tone to them. Yes, there were moments where they were just wham bam, but there were moments that felt more soft and delicate. It was a good combination and balance especially for these three characters. It felt well written and just complimented these characters particularly well.
Overall, I could probably talk for hours about this book and jabber on about all the notes, the many quotes, all the foreshadowing and little details we get, but I’m going to restrain myself. I’m keeping my secrets and you’ll just have to read the series yourself. Again, this is probably my favorite out of the whole series and the one I felt very emotionally attached to.
✨ Not So Thanks in Advance (Warts & Claws Inc. #3) by Clio Evans
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, stalking, kidnapping, isolation, mc with low self-esteem, depictions of anxiety and panic attacks, trauma/PTSD, mentions of night terrors, home invasion recounted, captivity recounted
“It was a hellish environment to work in, but I liked hell. I was a demon, after all. A monster. A creature that craved a little chaos in the morning with my eggs and toast.”
Honestly, this book took me by surprise. There was a lot packed into this book and so much caught me off guard, in a good way. The story plot gets really thick in this book and the romance, the spice… Wow, wow, WOW. I had a lot of fun, but also I got really emotional. I thought I was soft and squishy with book two, but this one, it was a wild ride that made me feel all the things. I don’t know what else to say except buckle up and get ready for a wild ride.
“The possibility that I had stepped into an elevator with the two individuals in the world who were my mates, was impossible.”
Monday once again and we’re in the parking garage stalking our crush with Billy, a shadow demon. But that’s not all, in this office, the elevator is magic where our omega witch, Jaehan meets his mates, not only in Billy, but the invisible tentacle monster, who shows up to work shirtless every day, Charlie. One full of chaos and spice, the other soft and lonely, the perfect fit for a healing omega witch. This is their story of haunting pasts, vulnerability, love, and chaos.
“It was nice to be seen, I realized. My heart squeezed in my chest. The hole of loneliness I had lived with for so long felt like a stitch had just pulled it closed a little.”
If I thought book two made my heart soft and gooey… this book came out of nowhere and hit me in all my feels. With this being the third book in the series, there’s so much to unpack, not just story wise, but character wise. Holy French toast, there’s so much I want to talk about, but don’t want to spoil it for you, dear reader. Okay, let me gush about Jaehan for a minute. If I thought I was attached to Lora from book two, nothing prepared me for how much I would feel for Jaehan’s character. I would move mountains and destroy their enemies, Jaehan must be protected at all cost. We not only have healthy conversations surrounding Jaehan’s PTSD/trauma, but the nest, the freaking nest! As someone who has PTSD, seeing the whole conversation about the nest and Jaehan making it a center point of comfort, it was EVERYTHING! It was the most emotional, validating thing I’ve ever seen in a book when it comes to those who suffer from trauma/PTSD because I never see this mentioned in any book and it just made my heart so full. Also, I want to slide in here that Jaehan is Korean-American and we get some little bits and pieces about their family. It’s very sweet and wholesome when Jaehan talks about it.
Charlie was a big surprise, as well. I didn’t expect to come to love him as much as I did. I knew I would like his character, but again, another character that must be protected at all cost. Let me start by saying Charlie is a virgin and I can’t begin to express how lovely it was to watch Charlie express this part to Billy and Jaehan, but also watch them give Charlie the space to explore what it means to be sexual and intimate with your partners. I thought it was very well written and handled very well. Sometimes the way a virgin character is handled can be a flop for me sometimes, but Charlie’s character really stood up to my expectations. Not only this, but Charlie is a character who has very much experienced great deals of time being isolated and feeling unseen. There are a few conversations around the very complex feelings of being alone all your life to suddenly having people care about you, wanting to support you, and just overall love you. And it made my heart so mushy and I cried a few times because it was so well written and handled with care.
“This is where the loneliness ended. This was where my new life would begin. One where I wasn’t an invisible monster lurking in the shadows. One where I had two people who could see me, who cared.”
As I mentioned, there’s a lot to unpack with this book because it’s the center point of this series. We get an escalation in the story plot and whew, there were a lot of twists and turns. If you’re in this series for the storyline then buckle up because this one was wild. So much happens from secrets to fighting scenes, to some messed up mind game stuff. It’s coco bananas, friends! If I wasn’t invested in the story before, this book made me even more invested. Not to mention, we get to see more of Anne and she easily became one of my favorite characters from this whole series. Seriously, I was keeping my toes and fingers crossed we’d see more of her. With this book being a bit of a turning point or climax of this series, the ending was chef’s kiss! We get more details about Alex, we learn more about Alfred, the enemy who’s been causing so much mayhem, and we get to see more of Ember, who’s Cinder’s sister, and get some details about her, as well!
Overall, this book was packed with all the goodies! There’s action, there’s romance, emotional conversations, and escalation in the storyline! Just so many good things packed into one! I think my only issue with this book was the fact that the smexy times felt shadowed by the things happening with the story. Which is kind of sad because some of the spicy scenes were scrumptious! Despite this, I had a fun time and it kept me invested enough in the series that waiting for the fourth book was devastating.
✨ Not So Truly Yours (Warts & Claws Inc. #4) by Clio Evans
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, mentions of knife play, explicit sex scenes, depictions of blood & blood consumption, vague depictions of trauma, imprisonment recounted, stalking, graphic violence, captivity, depictions of experimentation
“Monsters who were simps for their mates were adorable.”
Out of all the books in this series, I expected this one to absolutely wreck me and turn me into gravel. I was hoping that after book two and book three of this series, by some miracle, the fourth book would be about Cinder’s sister, Ember. I wanted to know so much more about her and with all the little bread crumbs we were getting, I just wanted more. And look, we got the girl! The cover is everything because we get to see Ember and the two giant women; Minni the vampire, on the left, and Lea, the bodyguard orc, on the right. Oh, it’s everything!
As usual, it’s a Monday and the magic of this office is in full swing! Ember is finally free to live her life and has her eyes set on a new promotion, however, there’s just a few things that are getting in the way. A protective older sibling, who insists that she move in with them and their mates, and the cherry on the cake, getting saddled with a body guard, one whom she feels is absolutely unnecessary despite what her bosses say, and lastly, going into heat because the ever attractive vampire security guard and her orc body guard are her mates. Just a typical start to a Monday, right?
“I’d never seen an orc woman before, but she was gorgeous. A crush-you-like-a-watermelon-between-her-thighs type of gorgeous.”
Never in this whole series or my wildest dreams, did I expect to get the ‘two giant women smooshing a short, curvy woman’ dynamic. Look, am I simping really, really hard for all three of these characters? Yes, yes I am and I have zero regrets. ZERO REGRETS! I have waited so long to see this kind of dynamic and it just adds ten years onto my life. I also want to mention, because I see no one talking about this, Ember is plus-sized/curvy and it’s just so good, fills my heart with so much joy. Truly, all the joy for this character existing! Lea, the orc bodyguard, also cross-dresses. There’s a whole conversation about how Lea prefers to present more masculine and wearing more masculine clothes, but doesn’t mind wearing dresses and presenting more feminine from time to time. It was such a great little detail to add in and then to see the reaction of Minni and Ember after that dialogue was chef’s kiss. Again, I mentioned this in some of the other reviews for the books in this series, but lots of diversity.
“There were so many desks in the place, and all I could think about was hoisting her up onto one, making her lie back, and helping her forget all her troubles for a while.”
One thing I will say is this relationship between these three is far from perfect and very, very different from all the other relationships you see in this series. It’s super messy and flawed, a lot of trust has been/is broken, there’s anger and frustration, there’s the whole thing with Minni and Lea being exes, this isn’t like the other books where you see the main three characters building up their bonds. The relationship between Ember, Minni, and Lea is supposed to be one of healing, but also pain, frustration, and a little bit of heartbreak. Actually, one of my biggest issues with this book was how we don’t really see these three mending from key moments of trust being broken or really seeing any of them being vulnerable with each other. A lot of the vulnerability either happens internally or in some situations when we’re in one of the characters’ pov, it’ll happen off-page. And that was really frustrating because I think if the time and effort would have been put into the mending of trust and the vulnerability with the characters, it would have solidified that these three characters are mates. But with those details lacking, it was hard for me to believe that these three were fated to be mates and actually have a healthy relationship with each other.
I do have to point out, that even though this isn’t a perfect relationship between these three characters, there is a lot of good. Like all the other books, there’s a lot of discussion around boundaries, safe words, and giving Ember control to set the pace how she’d like it. Minni and Lea really cater to the fact that Ember needs to have some control in the relationship. Even though both Lea and Minni have dominant personalities and assume the dominant role often in the bedroom, they really take what Ember wants and needs into consideration.
Speaking of trust being broken, my other issue with this book was Ember’s character, which makes me so sad to say, as a whole. I have spent so much time eagerly hoping for Ember to get her own story, to see more for her, to hopefully watch her get her happy ending and by the end of this book, her character flopped for me. In the beginning, I thought Ember was a very strong character, very smart and independent, wanted to have her freedom and prove she can do things, that she’s more than the things she’s had to endured. That maybe we’d see character development of her being vulnerable and letting others see the cracks in her armor. However, that was not the case, at all. There’s a moment in this book where Ember faces a choice, she can either do the responsible, smart thing or she could be an absolute fool and do the worst choice. It’s the fact that Ember is built up to be a very intelligent, responsible character and then she breaks the trust of her mates, goes behinds everyone’s back, and makes a fool’s choice. It was the most frustrating thing I’ve read in this whole series and it shocked me that all of Ember’s characteristics were just thrown out the window for that one choice. Honestly, I think I would have preferred some sort of a kidnapping or mind/dream manipulation over this.
“This one was soft and lovely. Her skin started to glow a little brighter, casting a golden hue over Lea and me. It reminded me of the sun right before it set, washing over the world with its warmth.”
As for the spicy scenes, I think these were some of my favorite moments in this whole book. I don’t want to spoil too much with these, but they were good. I had a fun time reading them and I think out of all of them, the mating/bond scenes were the strongest and best ones. I really enjoyed them and still remember the details from those scenes. The spicy scenes definitely stood out more compared to the main story plot.
There’s some foreshadowing for the final book, as well. We’re introduced to a new character, Sylvia, who helps Ember out and later on become good friends. I was very interested in Sylvia and the few details we received weren’t enough, but I knew we’d probably be seeing her in the final book. One doesn’t simply introduce a new character so close to the closing of a series without having a bigger role in-store for them. There’s some glimpses into what Alfred has been up to and hints to what he plans for the finale, as well. Which to be honest, I didn’t really care too much about because at this point, if you made to this book in the series, we all know that Alfred is doing this out of some lovesick revenge.
“All of us were exhausted, traumatized, and surviving off the donuts and coffee Anne had ordered.”
Overall, this felt like the weakest book in the series and definitely feels like the shortest. This book could have been a bit longer to give extra details. And, as I’ve mentioned, I really would have loved seeing extra details of healing trust and seeing the main characters being vulnerable with one another instead of it feeling like those things were internalized. To me, it just painted an unhealthy relationship dynamic with these three characters even though I do love them individually. I still think this book is still worth reading especially if you’ve come this far in the series. And three stars isn’t a bad rating or review. I still had a lot of fun reading this book and still enjoyed the progression of the story. I mean, come on, giant women with a curvy, short cutie! How could I not still enjoy this book?!
✨ Not So Much Appreciated (Warts & Claws #5) by Clio Evans
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, knife play, vague depictions of trauma/PTSD, stalking, kidnapping, hostage situation, graphic violence, scene of giant spider form, mc with very low self-esteem, explosions
Friends, we have come to the end. It’s such a bittersweet thing when a series concludes and this one is no exception. And to be frank, this was the book I was most eager about. Waiting for this book was terrible because I couldn’t stop thinking about how this series would conclude. I also want to briefly mention this, as I don’t know if this is triggering for anyone, but one of the main characters, Sylvia, is an arachnid woman. If this is triggering or if spiders in general are triggering for you, you may want to heed caution with this book.
“Even with all the terrible events that had occurred, monsters and witches were still finding their happy endings.”
The final Monday and Alex rolls into the office feeling terrible than ever. Monsters and witches alike have been hurt by his actions. The guilt is slowly eating him alive on this Monday. What Alex isn’t expecting on this Monday is his gorgon secretary, Anne rolling into the office with the new employee, Sylvia for her interview, for a full blown omega heat to happen. Frazzled and horrified, everyone, but Anne scatters like leaves on the breeze. Determined to get her happy ending, Anne takes things into her own hands and fetches her mates, one way or another. Who would have thought Mondays could be so full of surprises?
“Anne looked angry. Her eyes were golden with diamond-shaped pupils, and they burned like hellfire.”
I had been hoping every since we were introduced to Anne that she would get her own story. Even though she plays a side character role throughout the entire series, the things she does stands out compared to a lot of side characters and she does so much for the main characters of the other books in the series. I wanted her to have her own book so badly because she’s just too good not to have her own book. And we got it. We got it and we get Alex, and Sylvia on top of it, too! Chef’s kiss! Their whole dynamic was like honey and I am the bee because it was sugar sweet, friends. There’s so much dominant and sub energy between these three characters, and it’s delicious. Also, just in case you’re not a fan, there is a daddy kink in this. Sylvia and Alex have daddy kink scenes, and I just wanted to throw that in here in case that’s not your vibe, but I had a blast! It was just great chemistry between all three.
Speaking of chemistry, the way Alex and Sylvia become vulnerable in the relationship, and the way Anne refuses to bend or shying away from anything, literally everything. They just compliment one another so well and I think the author did a good job at setting these three characters up to being in a relationship with one another. The moments where they have really deep conversations and they work through things, that really got me. I love when characters can sit down and work through the really difficult things, even if it hurts or it feels scary. Not to mention, the boundary setting and making sure one another is comfortable with plans for spicy times, we love to see it! However, like the fourth book, this relationship isn’t perfect. There are moments where Alex does emotionally hurt Sylvia and Anne, but they talk it out and express their feelings, and it’s a process of going from having to do everything by yourself to having people in your corner, who love and support you. It was really great to see such good communication between all three and I loved seeing those moments.
“I was in the mood to fuck around and find out. Being a brat was apparently my new full time job, and I was taking that seriously.”
There’s some really great themes in this book too. Out of all the themes, not just for this book, but the whole series, is the theme of going from feeling like you’re alone and have no one in your corner to suddenly having people who care about you there to support you, who care about you. While I mentioned that Anne and Sylvia are there for Alex and this is something new to learn, we see the entire office come together to rally behind Alex and support him. That’s right, all the characters we meet in all the previous books are here to support Alex and to help protect, not just their loved ones, but also Alex and his two mates. It made me so soft and mushy to watch everyone come together in this final book, to finally watch them all put an end to Alfred. It was such an sweet, emotional way to conclude this series.
“There has been a lot of goodness that has come from it,” Ember said. “Look around you, Alex. All of us have found our mates because we ended up working at the office. All of us were brought together because of the mistakes that were made. And Alfred was the one who went crazy, not you.”
Overall, I don’t want to say anymore on this book because it is the finale to this series. A very bittersweet ending, but a series I can see myself rereading when I need to be reminded of all the characters I fell in love with. My only complaint with this book was it ending too soon. Honestly, I think this is my second favorite book in the series and even though it’s the last book, it really went off with a bang.