Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis Book 1) by Cari Z. ~ Book Review by Lirtle

Where-Theres-Smoke-cover-1Title: Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis Book 1)

Author: Cari Z.

Publisher: Riptide

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 04/27/2015

Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)

Genre: Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Humor/Comedy, M/M Romance


Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

Lirtle’s View:

This is cool as hell. It opens in a way that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I simply shrugged and said, ok, let’s go! I was glad I’d already eaten lunch and taken a pee break, nether one was going to happen again until I finished reading this.

Mystery. A fantastically imaginative take on heroes and villains and what exactly defines them. A great narrator in the main character. It’s all here, traveling at a steady clip, with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor and some current social commentary, to boot.

Sure, he was technically a Villain, not a Hero, but according to SuperTruther, the distinction could be a little shaky.

Ya don’t say. I love that this story is basically having some fun with the typical comic book hero-villain dynamic. It’s deftly mixed with elements common to today’s society, which made me pause and think and nod my head in understanding. Clever. All the while, the story isn’t taking itself too seriously. All of this reflects the author’s style and sensibilities, that’s how it feels to me.

Circumstances and people aren’t always as they appear. Panopolis is dealing with that truth, sitting at a crossroads, trying to decide. Do we maintain the status quo and hope for better? Do we dig deeper for more of that truth or bury our heads in the sand instead? Do we consciously choose a different path, redefining who we think we are as people?

~ Sidebar: the title is clever and don’t even get me started on the big city name of Panopolis. 😉

Moral ambiguity, or rather not so ambiguous as… a world just as grey and muddied as our own, portrayed with more obvious labels that still leave much room for questioning and wondering and difficulty in navigating this very opaque existence.

There is a case of insta-love here, and there are some aspects of this particular world about which I wish more detail had been given, but that world-building itself is fun, grin-inducing, and I made connections with the characters. I want to know more, I need to know what happens, and I hope this author in particular is involved in all of that. 🙂


Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis Book 1) on Goodreads
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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