Book Review: Paladin by Onley James


Author: Onley James
Series: Jericho’s Boys, book 1
Publisher: Independent (May 16, 2023)
Kindle edition, 334 pages
Romance, Adult Contemporary M/M Romance


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.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

I totally loved Arsen as one of Jericho’s Boys in the Necessary Evils series, and I was so pumped to see his book is the first in this spin-off!!

Much like the rest of Jericho’s boys and the Mulvaney clan who meet him, I fell instantly in love with Ever and want to give him allllll the books and just keep him in my pocket. Watching Ever find his footing with the freedom to be his own person and figure out who he is and what he likes (and what he doesn’t like, even if he DOES pretend to like it just to please people…) was so sweet and heartbreaking. The push and pull between Ever (who doesn’t know what is “normal” to feel and do) and Arsen (who is trying so hard to be a “good guy’) is just delicious. They want each other, but they both (Arsen especially) want to make sure it’s for the right reasons.

Arsen has shown himself (as a side character in the Necessary Evils series) to be someone who is hit on a lot and pretty oblivious to it, so he’s knocked for a loop when he’s suddenly all Ever, all the time. Swoon. And then the cat ear headphones! I can’t! UGH, they’re too cute, I want to hug and squeeze them both forever and ever.

Onley James posted a short bonus scene with a text chat between Levi and the rest of Jericho’s Boys after Ever’s appearance on her Patreon, and I highly recommend checking it out if you have access! It gives a little more depth and flavor for who this crew of boys is, and really made me eager for Levi’s story (which BONUS, is next in the series! Jericho’s Boys book two, Rogue, will be Levi’s book)! I can’t wait to get to know this crew of little vigilante hoodlums better.

This is the first book in the Jericho’s Boys series, which is a spin-off of the Necessary Evils series. While this could be read as a standalone, there are a LOT of players from the previous series. I definitely recommend reading all of the Necessary Evils series (as well as Elite Protection series book two, Captivating, before Necessary Evils…) That’s a lot of books, so at minimum I’d recommend reading Atticus, Asa, and Avi’s books as they and their spouses are pretty big side characters in this one (Necessary Evils books 3 Moonstruck, 4 Headcase, and 5 Madman).

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are unbiased and my own.

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