Book Review – Hostile Takeover by Cristelle Comby

A big thanks to RABT Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review.

Vale Investigations #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 231
Characters: Bellamy Vale, Zian, Candice Kennedy, Melanie Ramirez
POV: 1st
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Series

Moonlighting as Death’s earth-bound envoy, P.I. Bellamy Vale specializes in the weird, wacky, and slightly unhinged.

When a mysterious beast savagely mauls random residents of Cold City, the police assume that these are the killings of a rogue wolf. But experienced private investigator, Bellamy Vale, is unconvinced.

Ordered by Death herself to investigate, Vale has no choice but to obey for his boss is not someone to disappoint—if he wants to keep breathing, that is.

With friend and computer hacker Zian, interfering journalist Candice Kennedy, and homicide sergeant Melanie Ramirez by his side, Vale has no choice but to end the killings or face the wrath of the demon who literally holds his life in her hands.

Hostile Takeover is a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat paranormal mystery that will leave your heart racing, and have you looking over your shoulder.

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This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and it won’t be the last. I’m glad this is the first in a series because I want more! The team of Bell Vale, Zian, and Kennedy work well together, and the story is a fun read that ticks a lot of boxes of what I enjoy in a story.

The opening drops Vale—and the reader—straight into full on action. I liked the way the background/set up for the story, and his character was fed into the first chapter without it seeming like an info dump. I also appreciated that he doesn’t get through the incident unscathed, and he is badly injured. It upped the ante for the rest of the book, and added a touch of realism. Deals with Death have their downsides. He also has to work to solve his cases, and this one has several interesting elements that come together nicely into a page-turning climax.

The weird and wacky, and paranormal elements don’t turn up until about twenty pages into the book, but I liked that about it, as it kept me guessing on a few plot points then explained them in a way I hadn’t expected.

I loved Zian. He’s such a geek and I like the way he has a foot in both worlds, or wants to. Kennedy and Ramirez are strong female characters, and good foils—in their different roles—for Vale. Other side characters are interesting too, and I hope to see more of them in future books, particularly Tommy, the old Cherokee guy who deals in info and runs the local diner.

I loved the world building. It’s well thought out and a little different, and I’ve read a lot of this genre. I also liked that there were consequences for Vale using his ‘edge,’ and that he is tied by not being able to explain the paranormal aspects of his world to those who aren’t already involved in it. The story has a feel of older noir, yet is set in present day. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the two, and particularly the pop culture references throughout. I love stories with pop culture references.

I’d recommend Hostile Takeover to readers who enjoy urban fantasy with interesting characters, fabulous world building, and a story that keeps you turning pages. 5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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