Paladin, Jericho's Boys, #1 by Onley James

Paladin is the first book in Onley James' new Jericho's Boys series, which is a spin off from the Necessary Evils series we've all loved so much. And if you think the spin off is going to contain less murder and mayhem than the crazy Mulvaneys, then you, my friend, would be dead wrong! 

From the blurb:

Arseny Lebedev lives a normal life. During the day, he’s a mechanic. At night, he livestreams a fairy tale video game called Paladin. And sometimes—only sometimes—he kills people. But they all deserve it.

Ever doesn’t know his last name. He doesn’t know much of anything. Most of his life has been torture, bought and sold by a woman who calls herself his mother. He’s resigned himself to a life of servitude, until he meets Arsen.

The moment Arsen sees Ever, they’re bonded. Ever is both fragile and feral, willing to defend himself with any tool at his disposal, even teeth. Arsen is color and light, a beacon in Ever’s darkness, as brave as the knight in the game he plays.

Arsen protects Ever fiercely, but just when he feels safe, someone attempts to drag him back to his old life, reminding him that reality isn’t fairy tales or video games. He knows staying puts Arsen in danger. But Arsen insists they’re safer together. Can Ever truly have his happily ever after or is it game over?

Paladin is a hurt-comfort, dark romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a vigilante twitch-streamer and the beautiful but feral gremlin he saves from a life of misery. As with any Onley book, you’ll find dark humor, steamy sexy times, and gratuitous violence against people who totally deserve it. This is book 1 in the Jericho’s Boys series. Each book follows a different couple.

SNik's Review:

First in series (Jericho’s Boys), can be read as a standalone but as this is a spinoff series it might be more fun to read after the author’s Necessary Evils series. Hurt/comfort. Instalove/obsession. Found family. Dual POV. 

Mechanic and part time vigilante/video game streamer Arsen isn’t expecting to rescue anyone after his latest killing, but finding an abused young man in the closet he knows there is no way he can leave him behind. 

Ever has been in servitude his whole life, he’s never experienced the world outside of his closet and the demands of his owner, but he is hopeful Arsen will decide to keep him and trusts him immediately.

Ever’s innocence and vulnerability drive the story, with Arsen swept up into protecting and cherishing him, there is immediate attraction for two men that have experienced painful pasts and have an instant connection. 

A supportive and fun secondary cast (with Mulvaney cameos), plenty of steamy times, honest communication between Arsen and Ever, and some action (killing bad guys) made this an entertaining read.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Jacqueleen the Reading Queen's Review:

"𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴? 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲?
𝗢𝗻𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘆.
𝗢𝗻𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝘄𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝗺, 𝗯𝗼𝗱𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗹.
𝗔𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗻 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀."

I didn't think I'd ever say this about an Onley James novel, but... Paladin was so fucking adorable. Ever was precious and I didn't blame the boys one bit for falling in love with him. His life had been absolutely horrific since he could even form memories, yet Ever was still alive. He kept on living despite everything and then, when he was rescued, he was adamant that he wasn't going to waste his life. He wanted to learn the things he missed. He wanted to help people. And most of all, he wanted to be with Arsen while doing it all.

"𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝗔𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗻 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝘁, 𝗮𝗻𝘆𝘄𝗮𝘆. 𝗛𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗿, 𝗮𝗻𝘆𝘄𝗮𝘆. 𝗪𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗵𝗶𝗺 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝘂𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗱-𝘂𝗽, 𝘁𝗼𝘅𝗶𝗰, 𝗰𝗮𝗻'𝘁-𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲-𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁-𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗔𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗻 𝗳𝗲𝗹𝘁 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗵𝗶𝗺."

As you can see Arsen didn't mind Ever basically imprinting on him like a baby duckling one bit. It may have taken some time for Ever to convince Arsen he wasn't some helpless wallflower without his own mind, but these two got there in the end. Was their co-dependence healthy? Who knows. The Mulvaneys relationships are definitely out of the norm, but they all seem to be living their lives happy as a clams. It doesn't really matter if other people see your relationship as abnormal. All that really matters is if it works for the two people in it and also that it is of course not causing any harm.

I really loved how sweet Arsen was with Ever. He doted on him, as did most of Jericho's boys. There was an innocence about him that just drew people in. However, that little minx definitely had them fooled because once Ever was aware of the effect his pout had, he used it to his full advantage. No one was immune to the look. It was also great to find out how Jericho and Atticus came to be fathers of their boys. I missed those two, especially when Jericho calls Atticus Freckles. I swear I hear it in Liam DiCosimo's sexy Jericho voice whenever I read it now. Looking forward to Levi's story in Rogue.

Rating: 5 Stars

Reedkaye's Review:

Does anymore have to be said than Onley James has a new book out. That is all it takes for me to be happy. This author is on every list I have and every book I’ve read has confirmed that decision.

Paladin is the first book in a spinoff of the Necessary Evils series. This series doesn’t have to be read for this story but it helps since some of the characters are in this story or referred to in this story. Arsen is part of Jericho’s boys. He is sent to do a job and there is a little problem when doing so. He finds a young man in a closet.  He can’t leave him behind so he takes him home with him. As it turns out this young man is nineteen and is complete contrasts.  

Ever is innocence and smart in some matters. He has never attended school yet has been abused. Living with Arsen and getting acclimated to an everyday life with Arsen is entertaining. Arsen in the meantime has completely fallen for Ever but has a lack of knowledge on how to treat him. He treats him like a youngster and protects him from almost everything. Then some of the guys around Arsen step in and start giving Ever experiences and interactions with new people.  

I really enjoyed this story. There are a number of parts that made me laugh and gasp. I don’t like to include spoilers but I can highly recommend this author and this story.

Rating: 5 Stars

Paladin is available to buy as an ebook or to read with Kindle Unlimited subscription.