Dodging AN UNNATURAL VICE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic new historical M/M mystery/romance from KJ Charles. AN UNNATURAL VICE is the second book in her Victorian Sins in the City series, and should be read after AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION. VICE finds a new pair of lovers–as unmatched as they might be, and we get tons and tons of intrigue moving this mystery/lovestory forward.

About the book:
In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.
Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this historical M/M romance set in Victorian-era London. This is the second book in a series and is likely best enjoyed when read in sequence.

The first book, AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION, featured the mystery, mischief and murder that befell Clem Tallyfer, bastard son of his Grace, the (late, late) Earl of Moreton as he managed a lodging house, and fell in love with Rowley Green, one of his lodgers.

This story continues the investigation of whomever killed one of Clem’s lodgers, Reverend Lugtrout, and also Clem’s half-brother, Edmund, then the earl.

It seems there is some dispute regarding the entailment of the Moreton estate. As Edmund had no legal offspring, it should go to Edmund and Clem’s uncle—who cannot wait to evict Clem from his lodging house. Clem’s dear friend, Nathaniel Roy, is charged with assisting him in his legal dealings, but Nathaniel is also a writer, an investigative journalist of the time. He’s in the midst of sussing out the sham of one Seer of London, Justin Lazarus, who makes his living preying on the elite of society as a communicator with those beyond the veil.

Justin Lazarus is a 5-bit hustler of the first order. He knows all the tricks and plies his trade on the susceptible. How is it, then, that this charlatan is able to connect Nathaniel with the deepest of his many secrets, his lost love, Tony? Not only that, Justin has unwittingly received evidence of the (late) earl’s secret marriage and even more secret progeny. Justin needs Nathaniel to help him as he becomes a prime target for not only Edmund’s murderer, but also that of two opportunistic men who wish to claim the earl’s fortune as their own.

Nathaniel and Justin have no love lost between them, but that doesn’t hide their mutual attraction. What begins auspiciously turns out to genial once Nathaniel and Justin take off for parts north to escape London’s killer fog and the actual killers chasing them. It’s a very sweet romance that develops, as these adversaries turn advocates. Nathaniel recognizes Justin’s keen intellect, and admires his wit and courage. Justin’s taken by Nathaniel, but he’s unwilling to be another man’s pawn, or possession, ever again. As they aren’t social equals it seems doomed, but Nathaniel finds a way to blend their lives, if only Justin will trust him.

I really enjoyed the suspense and thrilling moments of chase through this historical landscape. The author makes great use of the natural elements—in this case the historic fog of 1873—and brings the story into a whole new sphere. The earl’s progeny are discovered and I was happy when it turned out I had correctly guessed the identity. There’s so much chicanery happening with regard to this inheritance that the heir, once names, is still in mortal danger. It’s interesting how the story has now turned another corner and will no doubt begin a new romance that will once and for all settle Clem’s claim to his boarding house and seems to solidify the growing bond between Nathaniel and Justin. While the first book seemed to move at a slower pace, this one had several full-on investigations, and it seemed we were learning more and more—yet still stuck on the resolutions!—with each page turn. I liked the way the enemies-to-lovers trope was utilized here, and also how these guys got past their preconceived notions—and actual prejudices—to risk their hearts and lives on love. I’m so looking forward to the conclusion!

Interested? You can find AN UNNATURAL VICE on Goodreads, Loveswept Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on twitter, Facebook, join her Facebook group, or contact her here. She is represented by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency, and published by Samhain and Loveswept.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Discovering AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic new historical M/M mystery/romance from KJ Charles. AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION is the first book in a Victorian series, and I’m excited to see how the intrigue (and love!) all plays out.

About the book:
Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship…

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding… it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

My Review:
4 Stars for this historical M/M romance set in Victorian-era London. This is the first book in a series that promises mystery and romance.

Clem Tallyfer, bastard son of his Grace, the (late) Earl of Moreton, manages a lodging house, as part of his consideration from his half-brother, Edmund Talliefer, the current earl. He is half-Indian, and attractive, but fussy and prone to fits of nerves when his schedule is off or he’s in the company of too many people at once. He’s a master at propriety, which is why he’s unable to make any overtures to his lodger, Rowley Green, despite some long acquaintance.

Rowley is a quiet, genial man who really finds Clem attractive. He’s sure Clem thinks little of him, for as many nights as they ‘ve shared tea and Clem never made any overtures. It takes months, but Rowley begins to see that Clem is merely incapable of considering that another might fancy him, and once their desires are made plain, these men find ways to make a surreptitious liaison happen.

Clem’s life is complicated nearly daily by one lodger, the constantly inebriated Lugtrout, a former minister, and a person Edmund insists Clem manage. It’s all Clem can do to maintain his composure around the blowhard, but it soon won’t be his problem–when Lugtrout is gruesomely murdered. This kicks off the mystery portion of the book, and it is a slower evolving story than I expected. That said, there’s a LOT happening, in terms of the murder and mayhem, and I didn’t feel it was developed enough–mainly leaving the mystery to be solved in the books going forward. I wasn’t prepared for that, which left me feeling a little frustrated, but I did like the Rowley and Clem bits, because I thought they were a sweet pair.

The next book is set to feature two other characters finding love, and finding the murderer(s), perhaps, but Rowley and Clem find their happiness in this first story of the series.

Interested? You can find AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION on Goodreads, Loveswept Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on twitter, Facebook, join her Facebook group, or contact her here. She is represented by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency, and published by Samhain and Loveswept.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Getting Wicked in FASCINATED-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M historical romance by Jess Michaels. Set in her Wicked Woodleys series, FASCINATED brings two solitary gentlemen together, under the guise of a country house party planned by a scheming sister.

fascinatedAbout the book:
A sexy M/M historical romance in the Wicked Woodleys universe from USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels

It’s been over a decade since Aaron Condit’s lover, Viscount Noah Seagate died. While he has had temporary diversions, he hasn’t had a real relationship since. But now he’s been invited to the home of his best friend, Leticia Blackwood and he’ll be faced with deep temptation in the form of her brother, Griffin Merrick.

Griffin has seen Aaron at certain clubs for a long time and he cannot deny that he wants the handsome solicitor. But secrets from far in the past and a desire not to hurt someone they both love stand between them. Time spent alone leads to a passionate affair, but only time will tell if they can overcome all that keeps them apart. And if they’re willing to risk losing everything in order to find love.

My Review:
I haven’t read any of the five preceding M/F novels in this series, and that was just fine because this M/M novella can handle being a standalone. Many of the characters are in the fifth book, so it might be enjoyable to start there, but it wasn’t necessary.

It’s the 1820s in western England and Letty Blackwood’s house party is about to get hot. Letty’s fond of her younger brother Griffin Merrick. She’s also great friends with, wait for it, her late husband’s former lover, Aaron Condit. That’s why she invites both of them to the country estate at Woodley for a large houseparty that’s set to span two weeks. Griffin and Letty’s mother can’t wait to see Griffin settled, and continues to push him to meet the women who come to the house for balls and tea, but Griffin’s desired Aaron for several years now–ever since he’d seen Aaron at risque clubs for men of their ilk–those who find other men attractive.

Aaron’s more than attracted to Griffin, but he’d hurt Letty once–her willingness to forgive both her late husband Noah and himself for their covert love affair is one thing. Falling for her only brother? Unthinkable. He won’t hurt her again. Still Griffin’s determined to spend as much time together as possible, and Aaron hasn’t had a stead lover since Noah died. Griffin’s sure that Aaron’s the man for him, and he’s got a plan to keep him close in a way that gentlemen of their station can–if only Aaron will give over his apprehensions about Letty’s sensibilities. Learning of Aaron and Noah’s love, and hearing how open his sister was to their relationship gives Griffin pause…and ideas.

This is a short and sweet love story that has a good bit of tension and a satisfying ending. I honestly could have spent a whole novel with these two! Letty is great, and her little machinations to put Aaron and Griffin together were heartfelt and charming. I’m used to reading English historical fiction written by British English speakers, so I kind of missed the more staid and quaint grammar and syntax, but that’s a small quibble.

Interested? You can find FASCINATED on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Author:
USA Today Bestselling author Jess Michaels likes geeky stuff, Vanilla Coke Zero, anything coconut, cheese, fluffy cats, smooth cats, any cats, many dogs and people who care about the welfare of their fellow humans. She watches too much daytime court shows, but just enough Once Upon a Time (Captain Swan FOR LIFE). She is lucky enough to be married to her favorite person in the world and live in a beautiful home on a golf course lake in Northern Arizona.

When she’s not obsessively checking her steps on Fitbit or trying out new flavors of Greek yogurt, she writes erotic historical romances with smoking hot alpha males and sassy ladies who do anything but wait to get what they want. She has written for numerous publishers and is now fully indie and loving every moment of it (well, almost every moment).

Jess always loves to hear from readers! You can find her on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday to THE BLACK SHEEP AND THE ROTTEN APPLE–Review & Giveaway!

tbs-facebook-persHi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new historical M/M romance from the writing team of KA Merikan. THE BLACK SHEEP AND THE ROTTEN APPLE is a complex love story between a ne’er do well child and man of honor who wants to save his ancestral home and tenants from ruin. I’ve enjoyed HIPSTER BROTHEL and from this writing team, so I jumped at the chance to read this one.

Scroll down for a HUGE excerpt and get in on the swag and books giveaway.
blacksheep-coverAbout the book:
“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”

Cornwall, 1785
Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.
Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.
No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.
When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.

Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.

But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.

How about a big look at this book…

The sun was high up in the sky by the time the desynchronized orchestra left Julian’s skull. There wasn’t enough space to properly lie down anywhere in the carriage, but he managed to obtain a comfortable position by resting his legs up the wooden wall while his upper body occupied one of the benches. He still felt like the filling of an enormous rattle as the carriage bent in all possible directions on the uneven road leading away from the coast.

Horace didn’t even make an attempt to hold back his disapproval, but after delivering several biting comments and a lengthy speech about duty, he at last leaned against the side of the carriage in the seat across from Julian and closed his eyes. It was difficult to say whether he was truly in need of a nap or if it was Julian’s face that he didn’t wish to look at.

With his headache out of the way yet not quite well enough to read, Julian opened the curtains in hope of amusing himself with the views, but so far, he merely got to see the side of a narrow gully—all dirt and grass.

He couldn’t understand why Father was being so implacable about having his youngest son marry a title. Couldn’t it wait a fortnight so that Julian could finish that new novel he came up with last night? This one could truly be the breakthrough Julian had been waiting for, the one that would make the Reece family known for more than fabric trade.

Inspiration was a moment in time when Julian’s friend Martin emerged from the darkness of an alley behind the tavern. In that very second he had not resembled himself but a man made of bronze, dreamlike and yet of substance, with strong hands that could crush Julian if they wanted. The novel would start with a similar encounter somewhere in the narrow back alleys, just off the Colosseum. Haunted by the ghost of an ancient gladiator, the protagonist would be believed to be slowly descending into madness, when in reality his awareness of the supernatural would become a vehicle for truth.

Julian was not yet certain of the exact message he wished to convey, but the events would be presented from several points of view, through letters written by the protagonist, his friends, and an official of some sort who’d represent the stale world order.

He’d already had several beautifully evocative ideas for metaphors describing the gladiator himself, but they became somewhat blurry after a night of cards and drink.

Oh, if only he could travel to Rome to let the atmosphere of the city soak him all the way to the bone—without a wife fighting for his attention and pulling him away from work because of feminine fancies.

He looked out of the window with growing disdain. Who in their right mind traveled on Sunday, and so early at that? Julian would have much preferred listening to a sermon at church to spending the day in what was effectively a hearse carrying one of the brightest literary talents just waiting to be discovered.

Now that Julian was feeling better, he was upset with himself about not asking for a day’s delay on religious grounds. He’d never been as devout about prayer as he was about his art, but if the Christian faith could postpone his commitment to a woman he never met, he would gladly kneel and pray. And Miss White wasn’t even a woman but a girl of fifteen, quite pretty in the portrait Julian had been shown, and a viscount’s only daughter at that, but surely as hungry for her intended’s attention as the bawdy house wench who’d become sweet on Julian some years ago.

Back then, he still visited Madame Canard’s establishment to do what everyone else did when they visited a school of Venus. These days, Julian had neither the overwhelming desire nor patience to handle a cunt, no matter how lovely the lady it was attached to. He still enjoyed having a drink with the harlots, and no card table within twenty miles was as lively as the one at Madame Canard’s, but at twenty-five he’d much rather handle needs of the flesh in solitude.

Sweet perfume made his nose itch, the act itself made him unpleasantly sticky—with his sweat and hers—and while he would not dare to ask, it was his suspicion that the friends who usually accompanied him to the brothel were only whoring so much because of pride and bravado. It was a sign of status to be able to afford women and decent wine daily, and so fucking and gambling was the thing you did as a social activity.

Julian’s eyes darted to Horace, who slept with his head thrown back and leaning against the side of the carriage. His wide-open mouth was asking for a distasteful prank, but Julian was far too upset to think of amusing himself at Horace’s expense. So far, the day’s joke was on him.

In the years past, he’d been mocked by his father and siblings over not taking on a profession that they deemed worthy of a gentleman, but with the family being very prosperous, Julian saw no reason to divert his focus from his one true calling.

Despite frequent threats, he’d hoped that Father—having four willing sons and three daughters—wouldn’t push Julian into marriage, but it seemed a lost cause. Soon it would be a wife nagging Julian to stop wasting his time following intellectual pursuits and instead turn his attention to practical matters. As the head of his own family, maybe he’d even be pushed to join the family trade, one step farther from traveling abroad to meet the great artists of the continent.

The carriage started a steep climb up a hill, and Julian cursed, pushing the soles of his boots against the wall to keep his body from rolling off the narrow bench. How long would it take for them to reach London at this pace? It was over two hundred miles away, so a week perhaps? The last time Julian had made the journey, he was so intoxicated most days that he couldn’t properly count them.

But out of nowhere, as the slope of the hill became gentler, the ugly dirt and grass that had been Julian’s only source of entertainment for the last half an hour were replaced by lush greenery of tree tops. He grinned and glanced at Horace, but the fat sod was too busy snoring to notice the change in scenery.

A wicked plan was starting to take shape in Julian’s head, and he quietly removed his feet from the side of the carriage and lowered them to the floor. Pulling himself upright was easy enough after that, and he stalled, eyes transfixed on the permanently flushed face of his brother that was an unappetizing contrast with the white wig he wore, and made him look like a man many years his senior. Julian might be less inclined to business, less sedate than his siblings, but at the very least he had good taste and flair most of Julian’s family lacked, buried deep in the stern world of pretense and money.

Horace didn’t even stir. The old pig was fast asleep, and if that wasn’t Julian’s chance to save his life, he didn’t know what was. Careful not to make any sound, Julian gathered his valise and the coat he’d earlier taken off because of the heat, stilling when the carriage came to a halt. His eyes immediately darted to Horace, but his brother only smacked his lips in his sleep. Hunt could have stopped to relieve himself. What an opportunity this was!

Julian could feel his heartbeat in his throat when he softly pressed on the door handle. Still distinctly aware of his brother being close enough for their knees to touch, were Julian not careful enough. He opened the carriage and left it in a soft stride before closing the door with care.

A warm breeze combed through his hair, wiping away the unpleasant wetness of sweat, and his lungs filled with fresh air, but he didn’t get to enjoy it.

The shining muzzle of a pistol was grinning at him from inches away.

Despite the warm weather, Julian’s whole body was shaken by a chill when his gaze met a pair of eyes so dark they might as well have been lacquered coals. The man had a tricorn hat pulled low over his forehead, and a black scarf obscuring the lower half of his face.

This can’t be happening.

“Don’t try to scream, or I will blow your brains out.” The man squinted and lowered his gun to Julian’s pupil. “Through the eye.”

Julian opened his mouth as his throat closed, robbing him of breath. He wanted to look back, suddenly wishing Horace weren’t such an easy sleeper, but Hunt was nowhere to be seen either. Heat washed over Julian’s body, making him stiffen as if he were made of clay. Had this man hurt their coachman? If so, where was the body?

“What do you want?” Julian whispered, resting his hand on the door handle when his knees softened.

“These.” A hand in a leather glove gripped Julian’s sweaty fingers and slipped off his rings. “And all your other valuables.” The man didn’t even blink, his voice dark as if dragged through tar.

Julian stared, and his mind finally came up with the answer for what this was. “You’re a highwayman…”

“And you’re cork-brained to travel on a Sunday when the roads are empty.” The man’s gaze drifted away to Horace for a split second, but he must have judged him as no threat, and when Horace snored from inside the carriage, the highwayman chuckled quietly.

Julian’s lungs emptied, and a silly grin emerged on his face, encouraged by the highwayman’s amusement. “Ah, I should have gone to church after all.”

The smile died on his lips when the robber poked Julian’s temple with his gun.

“Your valuables,” he urged.

Julian clenched his teeth when they threatened to clatter. He needed to keep calm. His father believed his friends to be villains, so he could handle one. “I’ve been taken out of the tavern this morning with nothing but the clothes on my back. I lost everything at the tables. You should try my older brother. He’s Father’s heir. He should have a healthy sum on him.”

The highwayman gripped the front of Julian’s waistcoat and pulled him forward so hard Julian stumbled straight into the man’s arms. He was much taller than Julian, with wide shoulders that were so strong their size couldn’t be just padding. His clothes smelled of leather and horse sweat, and Julian found himself staring into the eyes above the black scarf.

Before he could say a word, the man turned him around, and pressed the gun to the side of his head.

“Go on, wake up your brother.”

Julian breathed in and out, stiff with discomfort at the warm body pressed against his back as if the highwayman was seeking warmth. The gun provided some relief against heated skin. Its presence made Julian’s blood speed through his veins. It wouldn’t go off. Murder wasn’t in the robber’s interest, but if that was the case, then where the hell was Hunt?

Then an idea illuminated Julian’s mind. “I have a proposition, Mister—”

The highwayman stilled. He’d be lying. Of course. “Noir,” he said in the end. “What kind of proposition can you have, pretty boy? With no money in your pockets.”

Something about Noir’s tone sent a hot shiver through Julian’s ribcage, but he ignored the condescending words and slowly looked back into the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. “I don’t have much on me, but you must know my father. He’s William Reece, the cloth merchant. You could take me and ask for ransom. We could split it between us like two gentlemen,” he whispered and gave Noir a polite nod. Appealing to the highwayman’s self-importance should do the trick. His kind were known for a love of opulence and status they didn’t deserve.

He must have managed to surprise the thief, because Noir’s grip on him faltered. “How much could I ask for a son who hates his father?”

Julian exhaled in relief when he felt Noir’s aggression turn away from him. “A lot. He needs me. I’m worth more than you can imagine,” he said with a small smile.

Noir stole another glance at Horace sleeping in the back of the carriage, and his gloved hand slid to Julian’s neck, squeezing around his nape in a way that had Julian rising to his toes. “You better be. You scream, or try to run, and I will kill you.”

My Review:
it’s 1865 Cornwall, and Julian is a wastrel who doesn’t want to get married, and especially not to a young, wealthy girl. He fancies himself a writer, but mostly he spends his allowance in gambling parlours and houses of ill-repute, though he’s not a big fan of intimacies with anyone–including women.

When his carriage to London for the wedding he doesn’t want is stopped by a highwayman, Julian convinces his would-be thief to take him as a hostage for ransom. Unfortunately, ransoming Julian to his exasperated father doesn’t go to plan.

Sir Evan Penhart inherited his ancestral home, Tredele, but none of the funds to care for it, or the servants who’d been there their entire lives. He’s really bitter over it, but he’s doing his duty the only way he can–with insufficient tenant fees available, he’s decided to steal from a few wealthy travelers in order to finance the necessary repairs to Tredele and wages. Julian’s offer for ransom seems like his dream-come-true, but it’s not. It’s a nightmare. Evan had one lover in his life, and watched him die for the crime of sodomy. Since then he kept himself isolated in his home–so much so that Julian’s only heard of Evan as the “ghost” of Tredele. Yet, Evan’s unable to hold his attraction to Julian at bay.

I’m just going to say–there’s a scene of dubious consent, though I think it’s handled really, really well. Julian’s never imagined being with a man, and is almost innocent about the opportunities–though he’s not unfamiliar with the risks. Which, to be clear, is death. Evan has a stalkery constable who’s ever eager to catch him in the “act” of sodomy so he can arrest and execute him. While Julian is his hostage, it’s a dicey situation. Though, when Julian’s plot is foiled, they are able to restart their acquaintance, in a whole new way.

There is a deep and strong affection growing between Julian and Evan, but it moves by fits and starts. It felt very realistic, to me, due to the dangerous and tricky times. The plot has intricate turns, and huge changes in store for both Julian and Sir Evan. It’s a really long book, but I loved the wild and crazy ride. Julian and Evan don’t fall for each other right away–it takes time for them to build trust, and friendship, and then sexytimes. By the end, these guys are so freakin’ in love they are willing to sacrifice everything to keep the other safe–and harm is in the offing. There are some very brutal moments, and the homophobia of the time is in line with other historicals (non-fiction and fiction) I’ve read.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, so I won’t. It’s not like any other historical romance I’ve read, and that was refreshing. Getting toward the end, I had to read far too late so I would get through the end and out the other side. Expect a whole lot of peril, and a very rough ride for Julian and Evan before they end up surviving and moving on into their HEA.

Interested? You can find THE BLACK SHEEP AND THE ROTTEN APPLE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win book swag and books!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Authors:
K.A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite being over thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

Catch up with this duo on their website, Facebook, Twitter (run by Kat), Agnes Merikan’s Twitter, Goodreads or Pinterest.

IndiGo

Spies Like Them-REVOLUTIONARY TEMPTATION–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for an historical M/M romance out today from Sylvia Violet. REVOLUTIONARY TEMPTATION (hopefully!) kicks off a clandestine romances series between a Continental officer and the dandy who risks his life for freedom. As a standalone it’s a good one, but I hope we get future adventures with these men…

Don’t forget to drop down and enter the $15 Amazon GC giveaway below!
revolutionary-temptation-400About the book:
1777 New York City
The American colonists are fighting for their independence, but the battlefield is not the only place to wage war. When General Washington’s head of intelligence asks Captain Jack West to spy on the British in New York, Jack agrees, despite reservations about this ungentlemanly pursuit.

Jack’s contact in the city recruits bookshop owner Elias Ashfield, an impeccably dressed sensualist who flaunts his desire for both men and women and seeks a place in high society. Jack longs for a simple life guided by clear principles. Eli is a risk-taker who knows how to get what he wants. And he wants Jack in his bed.

Events in Jack’s past have made him fearful of acting on his secret craving for a man’s touch, but Eli intrigues Jack as much as he infuriates him. As Jack and Eli search for the information the rebel army needs, they realize there’s more between them than mere lust. But finding a way to be together may prove more difficult than defeating the British Empire.

My Review:
This is an historical M/M romance set in 1777 New York.

Continental Army Captain Jack West has survived a musket ball to the leg, but he’s still nursing the injury and not completely fit for campaign duty. He’s been sent to New York to work as a spy, as shameful and undignified position. He stays with the widow of a wealthy Loyalist, Mrs. Constance Stephens who has no love for England, or her dead husband. She quarters many British troops in her mansion, and hosts many parties for the Redcoats, with the objective of gleaning information she can pass to General Washington’s troops. While she knows Jack objects to this unseemly work, she trains him splendidly–and that’s for everyone’s benefit.

Building a network of spies is Constance’s main objective, and she recruits hidden patriot and broadsheet writer Eli Ashfield to her cause, as well. Eli’s the nephew of a prominent Loyalist, and runs one of the few bookshops still operating in British-occupied New York. Eli’s allegiance is to himself first, and he’s a practiced seducer, as well as having cobbled together a side-business in smuggling tea, sugar and whatever sundries can’t be legally imported through the blockade. Mercenary to the core, Eli needs to build his fortune now so he will be well-off when the war ends, whatever side wins. There is no way he’ll trust his scheming uncle to provide for him ever again. Falling for Jack is a glitch he wasn’t expecting.

As this trio work the parlour parties, they gain information necessary to help thwart British success–and Jack and Eli fall hard for each other. Jack’s afraid, understandably, because he’s seen the carnage discovery brings. He won’t risk Eli being killed, and yet, they still find time for trysts over the weeks and months they spend in this clandestine endeavor. The peril mounts when Jack is called back to the army, and Eli’s frustration over Jack leaving makes him particularly careless.

This book is written as a standalone, but it’s clearly able to be spun into more volumes, which I do hope happens. I really enjoy historical romance, and this is the first Revolutionary-era M/M book I’ve read; so that was refreshing. I liked how the lovestory developed, with Jack being so resolute in his protection of Eli that he ends up hurting him, deeply. There’s a big skirmish and dramatic rescue in the offing, with Eli and Jack being more committed to their efforts at ending the war as fast as possible–so they might find peace and happiness together one find day. An admirable aim for these two lonely, lovely, men. I’m intrigued by Constance, and how she’s going to keep her information-stream flowing, now that she’s unmasked a bit of her operation to the enemy. Strong women are always faves for me, and I love how she wound these gallant men right around her fingers.

Interested? You can find REVOLUTIONARY TEMPTATION on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $15 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Silvia Violet writes fun, sexy stories that will leave you smiling and satisfied. She has a thing for characters who are in need of comfort and enjoys helping them surrender to love even when they doubt it exists. Silvia’s stories include sizzling contemporaries, paranormals, and historicals. When she needs a break from listening to the voices in her head, she spends time baking, taking long walks, curling up with her favorite books, and spending time with her family.

Catch up with Sylvia on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or sign up for her Newsletter.
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Lonely Hearts Longing: WANTED, A GENTLEMAN–Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released historical M/M romance from KJ Charles. You know I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these other historical paranormal M/M romances RAG AND BONE, and THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL, so I couldn’t wait to get into a new series. WANTED, A GENTLEMAN kicks off a whole new non-paranormal storyline, and I really got into it.

Check out the $25 GC giveaway below, too!

wanted-a-gentlemanAbout the book:
WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:
the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:
a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring:
a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber

***

In the course of which are presented

Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

My Review:
This story is set in 1805 London, and is a historical M/M romance with no paranormal elements.

Theo Swann is a writer who runs a weekly marriage paper wherein he posts the ads of lonely people seeking affection, companionship, or marriage for better or worse. He also writes what we’d consider Regency romance under the pseudonym of Dorothea Swann. Theo’s barely eeking out a living in his humble printshop-slash-living quarters and is none-too-pleased when Martin St. Vincent, a free black man of some wealth raps upon his door to demand the identity of one of the lonely hearts featured in Theo’s paper.

Theo may find Martin attractive, but what does he care if coded messages from clandestine lovers are part of his paper. THey paid their money, and he ran their ad. Simple.

Martin makes it clear that this is in fact very complicated. He is an agent of a wealthy family–the family which owned him until his 18th birthday as it turns out–and the only daughter of this family seems to be planning an illegal elopement–as the messages indicate. Martin has been pressed, a bit, into helping if he can. And Theo’s not really interested in helping, unless he can profit from it. So, Martin offers him money, and Theo discovers the day of their departure from London. For a grand sum, Theo agrees to join Martin on the chase to Scotland, to save this underage silly chit from her ultimate ruination.

While Martin and Theo share a mutual interest–they both like men–Martin’s not keen on Theo much at first. Still, his intellect surprises him and the long, arduous journey is endearing. For about a day. That’s about how long it takes for Theo to blow this who caper sky-high and send Martin into fits trying to cajole his childhood friend from making the greatest mistake of her young life.

I’ll tell you right now, there’s a huge curveball to this plot. It seems like a romance, but it isn’t a traditional one. Nor is Theo who he portrays himself to be. While that threw me for a loop, I wasn’t averse to the plot shenanigan. It allowed to re-investigate Theo, who–to that point–seemed rather lackluster, in comparison to Martin’s stately and intriguing character. Martin is a thriving merchant, set up with an education and some seed money to begin his business from the very family that held his enslaved for fourteen years. The very people he’s crossing England at breakneck speed to assist in their domestic dilemma. Theo has trouble fathoming why Martin would lift a finger to help, and can’t see the profit in it. Martin is a man of honor, but even honor doesn’t bind him to help–and it’s an interesting situation for Martin to be in.

Theo, for his part, makes a lot of trouble, but also makes a lot of good. He’s a man in the worst sort of binds, and has no qualms trying to help himself out of them by any means necessary. He has neither time nor patience for a willful girl snookered by an obvious con-man; not when he’s being financially enslaved by his own flesh-and-blood. His assistance to Martin was always going to be mercenary, but falling for Martin wasn’t part of the plan. I really found the thematic juxtaposition between Martin’s enslavement, Theo’s financial situation and the girl’s elopement to be fascinating. In the time and place described, a girl’s only worth lay in her marriage prospects and this situation–a wretched elopement–would have damaged all hope for her family to ascend higher socially; so her position as property to be granted by her father’s whim rendered her into a theoretical “kind” of slave. As a fan of historical romance the whole elopement issue has always struck a chord with me, maybe it was because I’ve come from women who did elope–and their families didn’t approve.

There’s a little bit of sexytimes, a lot a bit of empathy, and a heroic ending that would outdo Mrs. Dorothea Swann’s imagination everyday and twice on Sunday. I really did like how this ended, with Martin and Theo finding an accord that is mutually satisfying with neither of them bound by duty, honor or poverty. They can simply be two men who admire each other, and figure out a way to build a future together.

Interested? You can find WANTED, A GENTLEMAN on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.
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If you want to get in on the $25 GC #Giveaway happening the blog tour, comment on the cool post over at PRISM BOOK ALLIANCE.

About the Author:
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on twitter, Facebook, join her Facebook group, or contact her here. She is represented by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency, and published by Samhain and Loveswept.

Cephalopod Coffeehouse June 2016: Tough Choices, POISON OR PROTECT?

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Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a new adult steampunk romance out from Gail Carriager. While I loved all the books in her YA Finishing School series, (Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracy, Waistcoats & Weaponry, Manners & Mutiny, ) I was totally excited to check out an adult read, see if the transition to an older audience would happen, or if it would feel too young… Reading POISON OR PROTECT, I was not disappointed!

Poison or Protect (Delightfully Deadly, #1)About the book:
Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?
Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Warning: Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from favorite characters, and the strategic application of leather gloves.

My Review:
This is the first book in a series, and features an accessory character from the Finishing School Young Adult book series who is all grown up now. It’s an adult romance, set in a 1870s England Steampunk world, rife with political intrigue, assassins, vampires, werewolves, and mechanicals.

Preshea Buss is a four-time widow, mostly by choice. Trained as an assassin in her Finishing School she accepted the favor of a high-ranking vampire, Lord Akeldama, who proceeded to get her ingratiated to men who needed dispatch. Well, not the last one. He was just old, and not very troublesome. Dubbed the “Mourning Star” by the tabloids, she’s never met a man who’d claim her heart. She’s been contracted to destroy the budding romance of a plain, but well-fortuned woman, Lady Violet, and her erstwhile, penniless suitor, Mr. Jackson, by Lady Violet’s father, the Duke of Snodgrove. It’s not really Preshea’s cup of Darjeeling, but the reward will enable her to ruin the one man who decimated her heart: her dastardly father. Plus, there are concerns the Duke is in grave danger of assassination. Preshea can protect the Duke while she manages Mr. Jackson…

Captain Gavin Ruthven is a recent retiree from Her Majesty’s service. The tall, broad Scotsman would normally never be interested in a wee lass like the Mourning Star, but they are thrown together for three weeks while he attends his longtime friend, Jack (Mr. Jackson) on his quest for Lady Violet’s hand. It’s a good cover for the captain’s other mission: ensure the Duke isn’t killed. Is the noted widow there for pleasure, or will she seal the duke’s death?

I was drawn to this author because of her quirky and fun YA steampunk books. While we are still in that world per se, this novella is fully adult, with zinging banter, scandalous repartee,  and steamy interludes. It’s not a kids book, by any means, and I really enjoyed this slow-burning romance. Preshea has never been touched with love. Abused as a child, and a married woman, she has no need for another man in her life. She’s well-settled due to her many inheritances, and Captain Ruthven–while attractive–initially appears the epitome of a lumbering brute. Yet, the more time they spend the more she is captivated and intrigued by his quiet nature and compassionate conversation. Gavin has little interest in the staid ladies of the ton, even if he were a catch. He’s done well financially, making a decent fortune in investments, but he needs a woman who would take him well-in-hand. In short, he’s a submissive, and he lives to pleasure women with his compliance, as well as his body.

Expect mischief and mayhem, and the employment of dirigibles to both assassination and seduction. As with previous books, the story is rollicking with a pace that sweeps the reader into falling for unlikely heroes. Gavin is perfectly edible, and Preshea is a lonely woman who never understood all that she’d missed growing up so isolated. Not only does she gain a lover, she makes dear friends. Poor Mr. Jackson, is, however, broken-hearted….for a time.

Interested? You can find POISON OR PROTECT on Goodreads and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and be sure to visit my fellow Coffeehouse reviewer, to see if they have a book you might fancy.