Out Now: KIDNAPPED BY THE PIRATE-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today, I’m not sharing a spooky book, but it definitely falls into the “different” category. It’s a “bodice-ripping” harrowing tale of man love on the high seas from a fave author Keira Andrews. KIDNAPPED BY THE PIRATE brought me right back to Harlequin Romanceland, a place I enjoyed in my teens… Her swarthy captain won my heart, and that of his scared, virgin captive, Nathaniel.

Scroll down to read Chapter 1 of the book, my review, and enter to win a backlist book for Keira Andrews in the giveaway!
About the book:
Will a virgin captive surrender to this pirate’s sinful touch?
Nathaniel Bainbridge is used to hiding, whether it’s concealing his struggles with reading or his forbidden desire for men. Under the thumb of his controlling father, the governor of Primrose Isle, he’s sailing to the fledging colony, where he’ll surrender to a respectable marriage for his family’s financial gain. Then pirates strike and he’s kidnapped for ransom by the Sea Hawk, a legendary villain of the New World.

Bitter and jaded, Hawk harbors futile dreams of leaving the sea for a quiet life, but men like him don’t deserve peace. He has a score to settle with Nathaniel’s father—the very man whose treachery forced him into piracy—and he’s sure Nathaniel is just as contemptible.

Yet as days pass in close quarters, Nathaniel’s feisty spirit and alluring innocence beguile and bewitch. Although Hawk knows he must keep his distance, the desire to teach Nathaniel the pleasure men can share grows uncontrollable. It’s not as though Hawk would ever feel anything for him besides lust…

Nathaniel realizes the fearsome Sea Hawk’s reputation is largely invented, and he sees the lonely man beneath the myth, willingly surrendering to his captor body and soul. As a pirate’s prisoner, he is finally free to be his true self. The crew has been promised the ransom Nathaniel will bring, yet as danger mounts and the time nears to give him up, Hawk’s biggest battle could be with his own heart.

How about a delicious taste?

1710 

If pirates were to be the bloody, savage end of Nathaniel Bainbridge, he wished they’d get on with it.

The windswept deck was damp beneath his bare feet, prompting thoughts of the dewy grass of home. What he wouldn’t give for the freedom to run across the fields of Hollington Estate, wind rushing in his ears over the steady thump of his heart, the world falling away in his wake.

Instead he was confined by an endless, restless sea taunting him with its wildness. In England, he’d heard countless tales of villainous pirates and their dastardly deeds. People spoke as if the ocean teemed with the brigands, but the voyage had been mile after mile of…nothing.

Nathaniel shook his head at his foolishness. Not that he actually wanted pirates to attack their ship and massacre them. If only he could move, he would keep boredom at bay.

He gripped the railing, longing for dirt beneath his nails, scratches on his palms from tree bark as he climbed and explored, wonderfully aching muscles from hours in the lake. If he could only run a simple mile. Hardly any distance at all, but trapped on the ship, that much clear land would be a marvel.

He wiped sea spray from his eyes. If only the ability to run and jump and swim was worth anything at all in his world instead of being childish folly he was supposed to have outgrown. Men did not climb trees or swim for hours, and certainly they didn’t run for the sheer pleasure of it the way he had at Hollington.

Of course, the estate wasn’t theirs anymore, sold off to pay debts, so even if he made his way back to Kent one day, he would never return to those rolling hills. Its verdant trees and round, tranquil lake would now be home to another family.

No, for the foreseeable future, home would be Primrose Isle, a new colony his father desperately wanted to see flourish. Walter Bainbridge had found his fortunes in England not the least bit fortunate, and as a governor in the New World had the thing he loved most dearly: power.

Nathaniel’s future bride waited there. Elizabeth Davenport stood to inherit quite a fortune, and for the colony—and Walter—to thrive, alliances had to be made. So Nathaniel would do the only useful thing he could and marry.

He brushed a fresh spray of briny seawater from his face as he stared out at the endless night, keeping a firm hold on the rail. His untucked shirt flapped in the breeze, the lower fastenings on his breeches unbuckled under his knees.

In the dark, there was no one to comment on his state of undress, and he supposed the crew didn’t care a whit anyway. His trimmed hair curled at the ends in the dampness, and he tucked a lock behind his ear. It had been his little act of rebellion to cut it much shorter than most gentlemen. He certainly wouldn’t be wearing dreaded wigs, either, if he could help it.

Clouds conspired to hide the stars and razor-thin crescent of moon. He shivered in the late September night’s chill; he really should have worn his hated shoes and jacket.

At least the wind was no longer the bitter cold of the mid-Atlantic as they neared the West Indies. He shifted back and forth on his feet, lifting them like a racehorse stamping at the starting line.

The Proud William was fairly large, a merchant ship carrying a cargo of salt fish and forged metal tools to the colonies. But when he’d attempted even a light trot around the main deck, the crew had reacted with consternation at best, hostility at worst.

Running was his very favorite activity and the thing he excelled at most in life—much to his father’s disgust. Swimming in the lake in summertime, cutting through the placid water with sure, even strokes, was a joy as well.

To be surrounded now by endless water but unable to dive in and soothe his cramped muscles was the worst torture. He’d asked the captain if he could at least climb the mast or sail rigging and had been flatly refused.

So he stood by the starboard rail and sometimes paced, careful to stay out of the crew’s way. At least he had been told their progress was swift, and that after a month’s voyage—thirty-one days and some thirteen hours since they left England, to be exact—they would reach the island in a fortnight if the wind held.

He was informed that some ships took several months to reach the colonies. Ships could leave London the same day and arrive weeks or more apart. Such was the way of the sea.

Staring out at the nothingness, he stopped his restless shifting and squinted. The weak sliver of moon had valiantly escaped the clouds for a moment, and Nathaniel thought he spotted a strange kind of movement. The night took on shape before becoming uniform once more.

Perhaps it had been a great ocean creature surfacing—a whale or giant squid, or some kind of mysterious monster.

He chuckled. Earlier that evening, Susanna had read aloud fables from one of the old leather-bound tomes they’d brought from home, and his imagination was clearly running wild.

She’d always been the far more indulgent of his two older sisters, and he knew she’d packed books he’d favor, although she certainly had a taste for adventurous tales rather than the sentimental stories ladies were supposed to read. They’d both enjoyed the diary of a naval captain who’d served on several ships of the line and described life aboard in vivid detail.

Although the cabin Nathaniel and Susanna shared was tiny, at least they had privacy. He really should rejoin her in their cabin to sleep and end another interminable day, but the walls closed in on him, and it felt like a prison. Susanna’s thunderous snores didn’t help matters, but he couldn’t begrudge her anything.

For the hundredth time, he wondered what his life on Primrose Isle would be like. The colony was only a few years old, and there had been whispers of struggles with agriculture and trade, rumors of corruption and settlers packing up already.

He’d be forced to work for his father or at some other respectable job procured for him, like Susanna’s husband, Bart. Handsome Bart was thirty and penniless, but of good breeding and an agreeable disposition. He and Susanna had insisted on each other, waiting several years until both their fathers gave in and agreed to the match.

Bart seemed happy enough to do Father’s bidding, including leaving early for Primrose Isle some months ago, not knowing at the time Susanna was with child. When Walter Bainbridge made a demand, it was met. Sometimes Nathaniel marveled that a man he had rarely seen since childhood could loom so large.

Susanna and Bart had hated to be parted, but she was needed to oversee the packing up of the estate and auction of the more valuable items. Certainly it couldn’t have been left to Nathaniel, who wouldn’t have known where to begin given he’d spent as much time outside away from the ornate house as he could.

Nathaniel had considered refusing when he and Susanna were summoned. But what would he do? Where would he live? His marriage to Elizabeth had been agreed upon by their fathers, and should he fail in his duty, Walter would disown him. He’d have nothing, not even a roof over his head.

Bile rose in his throat. No, that would not do. So onward to Primrose Isle he went, to marry as his father saw fit. All he knew of Elizabeth Davenport was that she’d lived with her wealthy family for some years in Jamaica before her father joined forces with Walter to establish a shipping company on Primrose.

Well, he also knew her writing was unfailingly neat, and from Susanna’s recounting of the letter, that Elizabeth enjoyed needlework and greatly looked forward to sharing her life with him.

He’d received her letter just before leaving England and had burned it in the grate in his room. At least the voyage was a worthy excuse for not responding. And as much as he’d wished to stay in England, he couldn’t allow dear Susanna to sail the perilous Atlantic alone.

Although with how smooth their journey had been, completely lacking in beasts of the deep or even a gale of note, he apparently hadn’t needed to fret. Still, it was done.

He’d accepted years ago that he was feeble-minded, and although he knew he should be grateful for the opportunity to hold a position of at least some stature on the new colony, he dreaded the notion of truly being under his father’s thumb once more.

It had been blissful having his father overseas for years. He supposed he should feel remorse for such churlish thoughts, but there was so much else to consume his stores of guilt.

So much else indeed.

He turned away from the rail, resigning himself to another long night in the swaying hammock. Susanna was of course sleeping in the cot in the only cabin their father could afford now that he’d squandered so much money.

The cry from above pierced the night, and Nathaniel jumped a mile.

“Sails!”

In the flurry of activity and shouts, he pressed himself to the ship’s side as the crew emerged from the hull like ants. Nathaniel squinted into the darkness, turning to and fro and seeing nothing.

Then he spotted it—the hulk of a ship emerging from the night, not a single light flickering upon it, drawn to The Proud William like a moth to flame. With a sickening twist of his stomach, he realized he had indeed spotted a monster, and it was upon them.

He raced down to the cabin, bursting inside. Chestnut curls unpinned and tumbling over her shoulders, Susanna bolted up on the cot, her book thudding to the floor. One hand pressed to her round belly, she cried out, “What is it?”

“I think it’s pirates.” He could hardly believe the words as he uttered them. Had he wished them into existence by grumbling over boredom? Oh, what a fool he was.

The blood drained from Susanna’s sweet, round face. “Pirates?”

“I don’t know what else it could be.” He threw open a trunk and dug for his sheathed dagger, cursing himself for not raising the alarm sooner. His mind raced, thoughts jumbled as he grasped the hilt of the weapon and tossed the leather scabbard aside.

The thunder of the crew’s footsteps shook the ceiling, dust motes shaking loose and shouts filling the air. Susanna looked down at her nightgown, despairing.

“There’s no time for petticoats or any of that nonsense.” She threw her flowing green gown over her head, her voice muffled by it. “My God, it really is pirates, isn’t it? Oh, I think I’m stuck.”

Nathaniel helped tug the material down over her swollen belly. She emerged from the folds of soft fabric and peered up at the ceiling, as if she could see through the hull. Footsteps scuffled and thumps reverberated, tense voices shouting commands too distant to make out clearly.

Susanna whispered, “No gunshots. Must be too many. The crew isn’t fighting them. Help me pin this shut.” She had stopped wearing her corset, adopting what was apparently a new French style while she was with child.

After he’d pinned the material enough that the robe-like gown would stay put, drawing a prick of blood from his fingertip in his haste, Nathaniel yanked on his stockings and refastened his breeches below his knees before jamming his feet into his buckled shoes. He wouldn’t face these brigands in a state of undress.

He tucked the dagger into the back of his trousers and whipped on his sleeveless waistcoat, fingers clumsy on the buttons. But there was no time for his cravat or jacket. Raised voices already echoed down the corridor. He spun about, belatedly hoping to find something to bar the door.

Susanna had apparently had the same thought. “The trunks aren’t heavy enough. Besides, it will only anger them. It’s no use.”

“Get behind me.” He urged her to the back of the cabin, which was barely wider than the breadth of one’s outstretched arms.

“Be sure to mind your tongue,” she said. “You know how thoughts can sometimes go right from your head and out your mouth without pausing for assessment.”

He huffed. “What exactly do you think I’m going to say to pirates?”

“Shh!” She slapped his shoulder. They waited, listening.

More pounding footsteps, and shouts that possessed an undeniably feral quality. The hair on Nathaniel’s body stood on end, his mouth going dry. Perhaps the pirates would pass them by. Perhaps they’d plunder the cargo and be done with it. Perhaps—

The door burst open, almost flying off its hinges, and Nathaniel barely held in his yelp. His heart drummed so loudly he was certain the two invaders could hear. One of them brushed matted hair from his eyes. They both wore ripped and stained trousers as baggy as their shirts, and their boots were worn out.

The long-haired man’s beady gaze raked them up and down, and he asked his squat companion, “You ever fuck a bitch with pup?”

Nathaniel’s stomach swooped. How do they know? Susanna was hidden behind him. He lifted his chin, forcing strength to his words. “You shan’t lay so much as one filthy finger on my sister.”

Ignoring him, the squat man leered, baring snaggled, yellow teeth. He answered his friend’s question. “Good and juicy, I tell you.”

Behind him, Susanna dug her fingers into Nathaniel’s shoulder. Heart in his throat, he yanked the dagger from the waist of his breeches, brandishing it toward the pirates. “Stay back!”

The two blinked at Nathaniel, then each other, before bursting into raucous laughter. The long-haired man said, “Oh no, we’re done for, Deeks!”

Heavy footfalls sounded in the corridor, brazen and commanding. Spines snapping straight, the pirates stepped aside as a man filled the doorway, shoulders almost brushing the frame. He was tall enough to duck slightly as he entered, and his sharp gaze swept the cabin, which had never seemed quite so small.

He wore black from head to gold-tipped toes—open-collared shirt, trousers tucked into knee-high boots, and a long leather coat that flared out behind him. A pistol was tucked into his wide belt, and a cutlass winked from his hip. Gold gleamed on the belt buckle, matching the small square earring in his left ear, rings on his fingers, and the tips of those black boots.

The ends of a red sash dangled over his hip, the only splash of color aside from the gold. He had to be twice Nathaniel’s age, his face weather-worn, a scar jagging across his left temple. His dark hair was cut fairly close to his head, a surprise since Nathaniel had expected all pirates to have long, unruly hair like the animals they were.

His trimmed beard shadowed his strong jaw. In the low light, the color of his narrowed eyes was impossible to ascertain, but Nathaniel imagined they must be as black as the pirate’s soul.

He might have been the very devil himself.

Nathaniel’s palm sweated around the handle of the dagger, and he hated the tremors in his outstretched arm. His throat was painfully dry, and he croaked, “We—we don’t have anything of value. No gold or jewels worth your effort.”

Susanna added, “Even my wedding ring is plated.”

Tully, one of the Proud William’s young crew, had entered the cabin. The man—the pirate captain, undoubtedly—glanced to him. Tully nodded. “’Tis true. Only clothin’ and trinkets in their trunks.” He sniffed dismissively, tossing his reddish hair. “Nothin’ hidden anywhere in here we could find since we left London.”

Nathaniel had thought better of the crew, but saw now how naïve he’d been. It must have been Tully who had informed the pirates that Susanna was with child. “What a coward you are, Tully.”

He snorted. “As soon as I got a good look at the flag, I knew we were done for. Everyone knows the Sea Hawk will gut you from stem to stern once you’re in his talons. I ain’t dying for cargo I don’t give a fuck about and a captain who treats us like garbage.”

“Your destination is Primrose Isle?” The pirate—this Sea Hawk—demanded, his tone low and calm.

“Yes,” Nathaniel answered. “It’s a new colony.”

Tully nodded. “Her husband’s there. We’re to drop them off with their father. The old man’s the guvnor or some such thing.”

At this, the Sea Hawk seemed to jolt, but a moment later the ripple had vanished and he was still again, fearsome and dispassionate. Nathaniel thought he must have imagined the hiccup.

Yet a gleam entered the captain’s devilish eyes, and dread slithered through Nathaniel. The Sea Hawk loomed nearer and demanded, in the same deliberate but undeniable manner, “Your name, boy.”

Heart hammering, all he could manage was, “Uh…”

“This one’s called Bainbridge,” Tully offered.

“Bainbridge,” the captain repeated, barely a whisper now. “As in Walter Bainbridge?”

Fingers going numb around the dagger, Nathaniel nodded. He’d have bruises where Susanna clung to him, her sharp exhalations ghosting over the nape of his neck. There was no sense denying it. “Our father.”

“You’re the son Walter Bainbridge killed his wife to achieve?” The captain’s focus sent chills down Nathaniel’s spine.

He couldn’t hide his wince, and had to nod. His mother had never even held him before the rest of her lifeblood drained away. Susanna had been but six, spying through the keyhole, and she’d confessed it all after Nathaniel’s endless badgering when he was a lad.

Strange how he could experience the aching, hollow absence of a touch he’d never had, even after eighteen years.

The captain’s eyes glinted. Good God, the man was enormous. Nathaniel was tall enough, five feet and seven inches or so, but this monster towered well over six feet. It was all Nathaniel could do to hold his ground and not stagger back against Susanna. The tip of his blade quivered mere inches from the villain’s black heart.

The Sea Hawk gazed down at them as though they were prey he was most eager to consume. “Your father is a liar. Corrupt. An evildoer in silk stockings and a curled wig.”

Nathaniel swallowed hard, hand shaking. Could he lunge and push the dagger into this vile man’s heart? Not that he had much love for his father, but who was a pirate to talk of evildoers?

The Sea Hawk’s eyes glowed with hatred. “Your father cheated me. He was tasked with justice, with fairness. Instead he conspired to steal from me. He branded me a pirate when I was a privateer.”

“Aren’t they the same thing?” Nathaniel blurted. As the Sea Hawk’s nostrils flared, Susanna dug her nails into Nathaniel’s shoulder.

“No, they fucking are not,” the pirate gritted out. “Privateers are licensed. Legal. Privateers follow rules. Laws. Just as your father was supposed to as a judge in the Court of Admiralty in Jamaica. Your father tried to strip me and my men of everything we’d worked and suffered for. We escaped him, but in the years that have followed, he has never paid the price.”

Dread consumed Nathaniel. His father’s greed and avarice would once again bring suffering. If not for Walter’s mounting debts, Nathaniel and Susanna would still be safe at home, waiting until she had her babe before making the journey. Hollington wouldn’t have had to be sold at all, and now they faced God knew what at the mercy of pirates.

Oh Lord. Please spare Susanna and her child! 

Bile rose in his throat at the thought of any harm coming to his sister, terror clammy on his skin. Sweat slipped down Nathaniel’s spine. “I…” He racked his brain for something—anything—to say, some means of escape. His dagger shook, and he licked his dry lips. “I’m sorry.” He had to fix this.

A slow, ghastly smile curled the devil’s lips. “You will be.”

My Review:
I truly adored this gritty, yet tender, historical pirate romance.

Nathaniel Bainbridge is the only son of Walter Bainbridge, governor of Primrose Isle in the British West Indies. He’s eighteen and unable to read–what we would call a dyslexic. He was well-schooled in order to hide this deficiency, and he’s unwilling to reveal his other shame: he is attracted to men. It’s 1710, and the penalty for sodomy is death. Besides, Nathaniel’s suffered enough of his father’s physical and verbal beatings to last a lifetime. When his father’s fortunes turn and the ancestral home is sold to settle debts, Nathaniel and his pregnant sister, Susanna, are forced to sail to Primrose Isle where Walter and Susanna’s husband await them. Oh, and the wealthy planter’s daughter, Elizabeth, whom Nathaniel is expected to marry forthwith so Walter can use her dowry to finance his colony-building schemes. Nathaniel almost wishes he could be lost at sea.

And then…pirate attack.

The Sea Hawk, a large, fearsome pirate captain, waylays their vessel. When he hears that Walter Bainbridge’s son is aboard, he knows he’s about to get his revenge. Ten years before Governor Bainbridge revoked Hawk’s privateer status, seizing his vessel, cargo and branding him a pirate. It was all a scheme to enrich himself, and Hawk was rescued by his crew just before he’d have been hanged. Never forgetting the cost he and his men took, the Sea Hawk has simmered on his anger, and now plans to ransom this “Plum” (Nathaniel) back to the governor…if only he knew how dire the Bainbridge finances were. Nathaniel is afraid his father won’t want him back anyway, no matter the cost, which in this case is steep. He’s going to spend the next four weeks aboard The Damned Manta, Sea Hawk’s ship, a prisoner in the captains’ quarters–so no one dares to spoil their prize.

Nathaniel is terrified of his situation, and intrigued by Captain Hawk. He’s a stunning man, for being a bit older–near his forties. Nathaniel notices the hitch in his steps, caused by aching bone and muscle, and he’s taken by Hawk’s at times tender treatment of him. Nathaniel inadvertently pleases Hawk, by not being too whiny and showing mettle. He’s a fast learner, despite his disability, and Hawk even admires Nathaniel’s resilience. In such close quarters, it’s inevitable that they find some common ground, and it happens to be in their preference for men. Hawk has free rein on his own desires, though he never takes his crew to bunk–he prefers to keep things anonymous in ports. That said, wouldn’t it be juicy to despoil Walter Bainbridge’s heir? And Nathaniel, afraid he’ll die soon, either in a wreck, in battle against other pirates or the Navy, or killed when his father doesn’t pay the ransom, does NOT want to die untouched.

Nathaniel’s desire, once tapped, becomes a bone-deep need that Hawk struggles not to respond to. Intimacy build, though the good will of the crew is dependent upon ransoming Nathaniel. Can Hawk let go of the only lover he’s adored since he was a lad himself? Could he kill his “Plum” if the ransom isn’t paid? There is a lot of soul-searching and sexual exploration happening here, and it was sweet to be inside both Nathaniel’s and Hawk’s POV. They have quite the dilemma, with conflicting duties and desires. Both men are sympathetic, and interesting on their own. The ending is intense, and unexpected, by the character’s admission. How could they find happiness in this world where criminals can’t disappear and men can’t love each other freely? Their crimes are capital, but their plans are homely: to find a place where Hawk could drop his pirate captain persona, fish, and live with Nathaniel in peace. Is it possible? Tragedy might abound, but so does love. And Nathaniel is unwilling to let his lunatic father destroy Hawk for the sake of his own pride. Expect sexytimes, heroic measures, a crew-charming lad, a gruff pirate who wants to settle down, and battles with man and nature. The sexytimes were sweet, even when they are rough.

Interested? You can find KIDNAPPED BY THE PIRATE on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK).

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from Keira Andrews.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Replacing AN UNSUITABLE HEIR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for the final episode in historical M/M mystery/romance series from KJ Charles. AN UNSUITABLE HEIR is the third book in her Victorian Sins in the City series, and should be read after AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION and AN UNNATURAL VICE. Third book, third pair of seemingly mismatched lovers who are on the run from, or hunt for, a murderous scoundrel.

About the book:
A private detective finds passion, danger, and the love of a lifetime when he hunts down a lost earl in Victorian London.
On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.

Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.

But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this historical M/M romance set in Victorian-era London. This is the third 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. The second book, AN UNNATURAL VICE continues the investigation of whomever killed one of Clem’s lodgers, Reverend Lugtrout, and also Clem’s half-brother, Edmund, then the earl. Lawyer and journalist Nathanial Roy is working hard for Clem to ensure he doesn’t get put out of his lodging house by his uncle, an mean elderly man who is claiming the title as Edmund had no legal offspring. But spiritualist Justin Lazarus met Edmund’s secret wife, and knows a son was born. They spend most of their book on the run from London’s killer fog, and a real-live killer, while they hunt down the rightful Earl of Moreton.

We already know the identity of the apparent earl by the end of the second book, and he’s not what anyone expected. Pen, and his twin Greta, christened Repentance and Regret after being born in a religious sect where their mother took refuge when her scoundrel of a husband married her, had his merry way, and discarded her at the age of 16, are now performers. And Pen likes it that way. He and Greta have a good life where Pen can allow some room for his…unusual and generally unacceptable behavior.

See, Pen is gender dysmorphic. He’s not happy in men’s clothes all the time, and he’s also not happy in women’s clothes either. He has long, lush hair, and often paints his face to match that of Greta–and not only for their performances. There are days he can’t bear to look as his naked form, and his broad, strong hands–tools of his trade–horrify him in their masculinity. In the musical hall, he can dress in ways that are counter to society’s dictates and pass it off as a lark, or the eccentricity of a performer. And he likes it too much to give up for some stuffy title. There’s no way he could mask his nature for the twenty–or fifty–years he’d need to as an earl. And the idea of marrying a woman to sire an heir? *Pen shudders*

Mark Braglewicz was born to a Polish anarchist, and endured life with only one arm. He’s an enquiry agent, what you might call a private investigator in today’s terms. His dear friends Clem and Nathaniel need his help tracking down the missing twins, and there’s no shortage of death and destruction that follows this search. Already three men are dead, and two properties were either burned or vandalized. It’s actually not hard for Mark to find Pen, nor is it hard to woo him. Pen hasn’t found a man before who had such flexibility in his desires. Mark finds Pen’s gender-bending appeals to him far too much, and he’s in a bad spot. He’s falling for Pen, but the murderer is still on the loose. It’s with no other choice than to save his friends and protect Pen from the murderer that he reveals Pen to be the rightful Earl of Moreton.

Pen is furious at the betrayal. And he’s not happy with the process of investigation. As his great-uncle and cousin dispute the situation, Pen and Greta are sent to pass the time at the family seat in the country. With their new “relations.” It’s uncomfortable, and unnerving, for Pen to be scrutinized so. Clem and his half-cousin Tim, also make the journey and they are good companions. Greta seems so happy on her walks with Tim, and Pen can’t escape his title, though he desperately wants to do so. Once the lawyers finish their investigation, he’ll be sealed into the title forever. And, man, is he mad with Mark for this burden!

Though, it wasn’t Mark’s fault. It was his rotten father’s fault. If Pen is destined to be this earl, then he’s going to make things right within this whole dysfunctional family, by golly! Well, if he lives that long. It’s clear the danger didn’t remain behind in London, and Pen’s fears that he’s being stalked are only assuaged when Mark turns up at the country estate to search for a possible killer among the house staff and visitors. And, Mark’s able to win back his beloved Pen.

The mystery was, as in the previous books, slowly revealed and had a great twist. The open love between Mark and Pen is tender and thoughtful. I could see why both men were so conflicted. If Pen is a earl, Mark has no hope of sharing any sort of love, clandestine or not, with him. But, the story ends happy–and realistically so. Pen is a quick thinker, and when his chance appears to make his life as he sees fit, he grasps that lifeline with both his strong hands and runs like the devil chased him. This is a fantastic mystery-romance series with just the right amount of intrigue and affection and a beautifully-rendered historical setting.

Interested? You can find AN UNNATURAL VICE on GoodreadsLoveswept 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 Loveswept.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Historically Sexy HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand “spanking” new historical BDSM mystery/romance from Sorcha Mowbray. HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS is the first book in a new Lustful Lords series and features an unexpected earl and the danger he faces, as well as his late-brother’s fiance, whom he is expected to marry–now that he’s inherited the title.

About the book:
His brother’s untimely death leaves him with an Earldom and a fiancée. Too bad he wants neither of them…
Theodora Lawton has no need of a husband. As an independent woman, she wants to own property, make investments and be the master of her destiny. Unfortunately, her father signed her life away in a marriage contract to the future Earl of Stonemere. But then the cad upped and died, leaving her fate in the hands of his brother, one of the renowned Lustful Lords.

Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere, is far more prepared to be a soldier than a peer. Deeply scarred by his last tour of duty, he knows he will never be a proper, upstanding pillar of the empire. Balanced on the edge of madness, he finds respite by keeping a tight rein on his life, both in and out of the bedroom. His brother’s death has left him with responsibilities he never wanted and isn’t prepared to handle in the respectable manner expected of a peer.

Further complicating his new life is an unwanted fiancée who comes with his equally unwanted title. Saddled with a hand-me-down countess, he soon discovers the woman is a force unto herself. As he grapples with the burden of his new responsibilities, he discovers someone wants him dead. The question is, can he stay alive long enough to figure out who’s trying to kill him while he tries to tame his headstrong wife?

How about a little taste?

London, May 1860

Stone heard the butler intone his name and title loudly enough for all of London to hear, let alone the population of the Devonses’ ballroom. Had anyone suggested three years ago he would bear the family title, Earl of Stonemere, never mind be contemplating his future nuptials, he would certainly have laughed. True, he never actually laughed anymore, but he certainly would have found such a claim incredulous.

It was no longer an amusing matter.

Having survived the receiving line, he eased through the crowded ballroom. Every few feet, he stopped to speak with one acquaintance or another. Not so long ago, these same people would have been running for the hills and hiding their daughters. But fate, a fickle mistress to say the least, had other plans.

Moving with a quickness born of desperation, he barely acknowledged the next three men as the heat from the crowd paired with the stench of perfumes and body odor to choke him. After his service in India, crowded entertainments such as a ball had grown difficult to endure. The press of bodies and the loud murmur of conversation punctuated by the occasional shrill laugh smothered him, too similar to the roar of battle and the cries of the dying.

Moving past a swarm of silk skirts, he spotted a dark, hidden alcove, an oasis from the overwhelming onslaught, both real and imagined. If he could shut it down quickly enough, he wouldn’t embarrass himself. If he failed, all of London would learn just how broken he was.

He was an earl. Not a soldier. Never again a soldier.

Once the cool darkness enveloped him, he opened his mouth and drew a breath. His pounding pulse eased as the vise around his chest released and his damp skin dried. After another quarter hour spent tucked away, he believed he could manage the crowd long enough to find his betrothed.

As any good officer would, he had a strategy. Find her, claim his dances, and then await each one either on the balcony or on the dance floor, if required. Even the cardrooms at these soirees bordered on disabling.

He reached for the drapes to his hideaway, but hesitated as two women tittered in the immediate vicinity.

“Why, Gladys, I heard his name announced earlier. I’m certain Matilda invited Stonemere despite all the gossip.”

“I simply cannot imagine what she was thinking,” the one called Gladys said.

“Can’t you? Having one of the Lustful Lords in attendance at your ball? I daresay everyone who is anyone will wish to be able to say they were here. It’s all so deliciously scandalous and yet possible now the unmitigated rake is off the market.” Gladys’s friend sighed with a bit more drama than anyone in their right mind or otherwise would deem necessary.

“Well, one should hope that man can contain himself what with all these poor young virgins parading around. It would serve Matilda right if he debauched each and every one of them while here under her auspices.”

“Oh, do be sensible, Gladys. He could perhaps ruin four or five in one night, but all of them?”

Past ready to find his fiancée and escape his hidey-hole, he stepped out next to the ladies in question, turned to them, and bowed over each of their hands. The shock on their faces far outweighed any notion of good manners on his part. “Why, ladies, you both give me far more credit than I deserve. Even in my heyday of debauchery, I could only service three ladies in a single evening.”

As the two ladies sputtered, he departed their corner. The temptation to turn and wink at the gossipers won out, which caused another round of tittering and sputtering from behind him. Of course, he was well aware of what proper Society called himself and his friends. But the Marquess of Flintshire, Earl of Brougham, Baron Lincolnshire, and Viscount Wolfington—as well as himself—held little regard for polite society. Each of them had learned the hard way that they had no place amongst their peers.

My Review:
This is not a tame historical. If you want that, I have lots to recommend. This, instead, is a lusty, sexy read with a pair of seemingly mismatched lovers who find quite some common ground in the bedchamber–and out of it.

It’s 1860s London, and the newly minted Earl of Stonemere, Achilles Denton (called Stone for the entirety of the book), is loathe to assume his inherited title and responsibilities. He’s a war veteran who suffers night terrors, and also the leader of a social group known as the Lustful Lords–Stone and his four chums who enjoy a good kinky orgy at The Market, a brothel. Stone doesn’t want to give up his carefree ways, but his mother insists that he take a wife and produce an heir. As he’s got no designs on anyone, he decides to marry his late-brother’s fiance, Lady Theodora Lawton, who seems demure and retiring, despite her age advanced age…of twenty-one.

Theo is nothing like what Stone would want, or so he thinks. A fiery spitfire of a woman who could match his lusty ways is nothing that he could have expected considering her excellent manners and superior breeding. ‘Theo’ is, in fact, superiorly headstrong, and doesn’t want a man meddling in her affairs–and she has affairs. She owns both a china factory and an orphanage which she purchased and manages with her own funds. And, she doesn’t want some overbearing man coming in and taking over, ruining her projects. Theo mourned the loss of her fiance, because they were good friends and she sensed he’d allow her leave to live her life as she saw fit, but Stone is another matter entirely. His reputation as a randy rake piques her interest, and the activities of her marriage bed bears no resemblance to the quiet compliance her mother advised. When Stone goes off “on business” two days into their honeymoon, Theo’s sure it’s because he’s after a lover and she’s not equal to the task of bedpartner. So she seeks assistance from the madame who rund The Market to school her in ways to seduce her husband properly.

Oh Theo! Stone is onto her, and it’s a fun bit of a romp that ends with Theo receiving her first, of many, spankings as Stone schools her himself, and quite lustfully. Expect a light bit of BDSM as Stone and Theo work the kinks into their marriage. The book begins with an orgy in The Market and includes public indecency, the (im)proper defiling of a countess, and loads and loads of…sated, happy endings. There’s a side plot of who keeps trying (and failing!) to kill Stone as he’s off on his daily errands. Being knocked into cart paths, and attacked by hooligans, Stone’s life is in certain jeopardy–and it’s down to Theo to make sure her lustful husband lives to greet their firstborn.

The tone of the book is erotic from the outset, and it’s a fun, sexy read. In many ways it’s an historical rom-com which includes elements of BDSM and some suspense. There’s no doubt I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, and I expect it will steam up my ereader in quite the same delicious fashion.

Interested? You can find HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS on Goodreads, Amazon (US, UK, CA and AU) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and GooglePlay.

About the Author:
Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She’s loves hearing from her readers.

Coming Soon: HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS Excerpt Reveal

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt for a new historical romance coming soon from Sorcha Mowbray. HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS is the first book in a new Lustful Lords series and features an unexpected earl and the intrigue he must face, as well as his late-brother’s fiance, whom he is expected to marry…

About the book:
His brother’s untimely death leaves him with an Earldom and a fiancée. Too bad he wants neither of them…
Theodora Lawton has no need of a husband. As an independent woman, she wants to own property, make investments and be the master of her destiny. Unfortunately, her father signed her life away in a marriage contract to the future Earl of Stonemere. But then the cad upped and died, leaving her fate in the hands of his brother, one of the renowned Lustful Lords.

Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere, is far more prepared to be a soldier than a peer. Deeply scarred by his last tour of duty, he knows he will never be a proper, upstanding pillar of the empire. Balanced on the edge of madness, he finds respite by keeping a tight rein on his life, both in and out of the bedroom. His brother’s death has left him with responsibilities he never wanted and isn’t prepared to handle in the respectable manner expected of a peer.

Further complicating his new life is an unwanted fiancée who comes with his equally unwanted title. Saddled with a hand-me-down countess, he soon discovers the woman is a force unto herself. As he grapples with the burden of his new responsibilities, he discovers someone wants him dead. The question is, can he stay alive long enough to figure out who’s trying to kill him while he tries to tame his headstrong wife?

How about a little taste?

London, May 1860

Stone heard the butler intone his name and title loudly enough for all of London to hear, let alone the population of the Devonses’ ballroom. Had anyone suggested three years ago he would bear the family title, Earl of Stonemere, never mind be contemplating his future nuptials, he would certainly have laughed. True, he never actually laughed anymore, but he certainly would have found such a claim incredulous.

It was no longer an amusing matter.

Having survived the receiving line, he eased through the crowded ballroom. Every few feet, he stopped to speak with one acquaintance or another. Not so long ago, these same people would have been running for the hills and hiding their daughters. But fate, a fickle mistress to say the least, had other plans.

Moving with a quickness born of desperation, he barely acknowledged the next three men as the heat from the crowd paired with the stench of perfumes and body odor to choke him. After his service in India, crowded entertainments such as a ball had grown difficult to endure. The press of bodies and the loud murmur of conversation punctuated by the occasional shrill laugh smothered him, too similar to the roar of battle and the cries of the dying.

Moving past a swarm of silk skirts, he spotted a dark, hidden alcove, an oasis from the overwhelming onslaught, both real and imagined. If he could shut it down quickly enough, he wouldn’t embarrass himself. If he failed, all of London would learn just how broken he was.

He was an earl. Not a soldier. Never again a soldier.

Once the cool darkness enveloped him, he opened his mouth and drew a breath. His pounding pulse eased as the vise around his chest released and his damp skin dried. After another quarter hour spent tucked away, he believed he could manage the crowd long enough to find his betrothed.

As any good officer would, he had a strategy. Find her, claim his dances, and then await each one either on the balcony or on the dance floor, if required. Even the cardrooms at these soirees bordered on disabling.

He reached for the drapes to his hideaway, but hesitated as two women tittered in the immediate vicinity.

“Why, Gladys, I heard his name announced earlier. I’m certain Matilda invited Stonemere despite all the gossip.”

“I simply cannot imagine what she was thinking,” the one called Gladys said.

“Can’t you? Having one of the Lustful Lords in attendance at your ball? I daresay everyone who is anyone will wish to be able to say they were here. It’s all so deliciously scandalous and yet possible now the unmitigated rake is off the market.” Gladys’s friend sighed with a bit more drama than anyone in their right mind or otherwise would deem necessary.

“Well, one should hope that man can contain himself what with all these poor young virgins parading around. It would serve Matilda right if he debauched each and every one of them while here under her auspices.”

“Oh, do be sensible, Gladys. He could perhaps ruin four or five in one night, but all of them?”

Past ready to find his fiancée and escape his hidey-hole, he stepped out next to the ladies in question, turned to them, and bowed over each of their hands. The shock on their faces far outweighed any notion of good manners on his part. “Why, ladies, you both give me far more credit than I deserve. Even in my heyday of debauchery, I could only service three ladies in a single evening.”

As the two ladies sputtered, he departed their corner. The temptation to turn and wink at the gossipers won out, which caused another round of tittering and sputtering from behind him. Of course, he was well aware of what proper Society called himself and his friends. But the Marquess of Flintshire, Earl of Brougham, Baron Lincolnshire, and Viscount Wolfington—as well as himself—held little regard for polite society. Each of them had learned the hard way that they had no place amongst their peers.

This looks like a fun one! Look for a review from me in the coming weeks.

Interested? You can pre-order HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS on Amazon (US, UK, CA and AU) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and GooglePlay. The book releases Sept 20th.

About the Author:
Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She’s loves hearing from her readers.

Not Easy BECOMING ANDY HUNSINGER–Review & Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new near-historical M/M romance from Jere’ M. Fishback. BECOMING ANDY HUNSINGER is a coming-of-age story for a college student who’s inadvertently outed in 70s and hopes to find his true love without being shunned by his family. It’s a charming, and often bittersweet, story, and I really liked it.

Drop down to catch an interview, and excerpt and get in on the book giveaway, too!

About the book:
It’s 1976, and Anita Bryant’s homophobic “Save Our Children” crusade rages through Florida. When Andy Hunsinger, a closeted gay college student, joins in a demonstration protesting Bryant’s appearance in Tallahassee, his straight boy image is shattered when he is “outed” by a TV news reporter.

In the months following, Andy discovers just what it means to be openly gay in a society that condemns love between two men and wonders if his friendship with Travis, a devout Christian who’s fighting his own sexual urges, can develop into something deeper.

How about a little taste…

Chapter One
On my seventh birthday, my parents gave me a Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat.

I still have the book; it rests on the shelf above my desk, along with other Seuss works I’ve collected. Inside The Cat in the Hat’s cover, my mother wrote an inscription, using her precise penmanship.

“Happy Birthday, Andy. As you grow older, you’ll realize many truths dwell within these pages. Much love, Mom and Dad.”

Mom was right, of course. She most always was. My favorite line is this one:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

***

Loretta McPhail was a notorious Tallahassee slumlord. On a steamy afternoon, in August 1976, she spoke to me in her North Florida drawl: part magnolia, part crosscut saw.

“The rent’s one twenty-five. I’ll need first, last, and a security deposit, no exceptions.”

McPhail wore a short-sleeved shirtwaist dress, spectator pumps, and a straw hat with a green plastic windowpane sewn into the brim. Her skin was as pale as cake flour. A gray moustache grew on her wrinkled upper lip, and age spots peppered the backs of her hands. Her eyeglasses had lenses so thick her gaze looked buggy.

I’d heard McPhail held title to more than fifty properties in town, all of them cited multiple times for violation of local building codes. She owned rooming houses, single-family homes, and small apartment buildings, mostly in neighborhoods surrounding Florida State University’s campus. Like me, her tenants sought cheap rent; they didn’t care if the roof leaked or the furnace didn’t work.

The Franklin Street apartment I viewed with McPhail wasn’t much: a living room and kitchen, divided by a three-quarter wall; a bedroom with windows looking into the rear and side yards; and a bathroom with a wall-mounted sink, a shower stall, and a toilet with a broken seat. In each room, the plaster ceilings bore water marks. The carpet was a leopard skin of suspicious-looking stains, and the whole place stank of mildew and cat pee.

McPhail’s building was a two-storied, red-brick four-plex with casement windows that opened like book covers, a Panhandle style of architecture popular in the 1950s. Shingles on the pitched roof curled at their edges. Live oaks and longleaf pines shaded the crabgrass lawn, and skeletal azaleas clung to the building’s exterior.

In the kitchen, I peeked inside a rust-pitted Frigidaire. The previous tenant had left gifts: a half-empty ketchup bottle, another of pickle relish. A carton of orange juice with an expiration date three months past sat beside a tub of margarine.

Out in the stairwell, piano music tinkled—a jazzy number I didn’t recognize.

McPhail clucked her tongue and shook her head. “I’ve told Fergal—and I mean several times—to close his door when he plays, but he never does. I’m not sure why I put up with that boy.”

McPhail pulled a pack of Marlboros from a pocket in the skirt of her dress. After tapping out two cigarettes, she jammed them between her lips. She lit both with a brushed-chrome Zippo, then gave me one.

I puffed and tapped a toe, letting my gaze travel about the kitchen. I studied the chipped porcelain sink, scratched Formica countertops, and drippy faucet. Blackened food caked the range’s burner pans. The linoleum floor’s confetti motif had long ago disappeared in high-traffic areas. Okay, the place was a dump. But the rent was cheap, and campus was less than a mile away. I could ride my bike to classes and to my part-time job as caddy at the Capital City Country Club.

Still, I hesitated.

The past two years, I’d lived in my fraternity house with forty brothers. I took my meals there, too. If I rented McPhail’s apartment, I’d have to cook for myself. What would I eat? Where would I shop for food?

Other questions flooded my brain. Where would I wash my clothes? And how did a guy open a utilities account? The apartment wasn’t furnished. Where would I purchase a bed? What about a dinette and living room furniture?

And how much did such things cost? It all seemed so complicated.

Still…

Lack of privacy at the fraternity house would pose a problem for me this year. Over summer break—back home in Pensacola—I’d experienced my first sexual encounter with another male, a lanky serviceman named Jeff Dellinger, age twenty-four. Jeff was a second lieutenant from Eglin Air Force Base. I met him at a sand volleyball game behind a Pensacola Beach hotel, and he seemed friendly. I liked his dark hair, slim physique, and ready smile, but wasn’t expecting anything personal to happen between us.

After all, I was a “straight boy,” right?

We bought each other beers at the tiki bar, and then Jeff invited me up to his hotel room. Once we reached the room, Jeff prepared two vodka tonics. My drink struck like snake venom, and then my brain fuzzed. Jeff opened a bureau drawer; he produced a lethal-looking pistol fashioned from black metal. The pistol had a matte finish and a checked grip.

“Ever seen one of these?” Jeff asked.

I shook my head.

“It’s an M1911—official air-force issue. I’ve fired it dozens of times.

Jeff raised the gun to shoulder height. He closed one eye, focused his other on the pistol’s barrel sight. “Shooting’s almost…sensual.” Then he looked at me. “It’s like sex, if you know what I mean.”

I shrugged, not knowing what to say.

Jeff handed the pistol to me. It weighed more than I’d expected, between two and three pounds. I turned it this way and that, admiring its sleek contours. The grip felt cold against my palm and a shiver ran through me. I’d never fired a handgun, never thought to.

“Is it loaded?” I asked.

Jeff bobbed his chin. “One bullet’s in the firing chamber, seven more in the magazine; it’s a semiautomatic.”

After I handed Jeff the gun, he returned it to his bureau’s drawer while I sipped my drink, feeling woozier by the minute. Jeff sat next to me, on the room’s double bed. His knee nudged mine, our shoulders touched, and I smelled his coconut-scented sunscreen.

Jeff laid a hand on my thigh. Then he squeezed. “You don’t mind, do you?”

I looked down at his hand while my heart thumped. Go on, chickenshit. He wants you.

I gazed into Jeff’s dark eyes. “It’s fine.”

And that’s were I cut the offered excerpt, folks, because I keep it PG-13 here, and the next few lines are a sex scene. Plus, there’s lots of Andy reminiscing about sex with Jeff, too. Let’s just say that Andy opts to rent this crummy apartment so he can have the privacy he needs to be a sexually-active gay man in 1976.

And some thoughts on the story from author Jere’ M. Fishback:

Was there any particular part of this book that was difficult to write? If so, what made it so difficult?
There’s a scene where Andy decides to explore the world of BDSM, and winds up getting beaten and sexually assaulted by a man he shouldn’t have trusted. The scene was very disturbing to write, especially because Andy’s such a lovable guy who doesn’t deserve what happens to him.

How about the part of the story you had the most fun writing?
I especially enjoyed writing about Andy’s family’s acceptance of his sexual orientation, despite their conservative views on life. Andy’s extremely close to this parents and his younger brother, and it was fun to write about the day (Easter Sunday) when Andy comes out to his family at the dinner table. There are some pretty tense moments, especially when Andy talks alone with his younger brother, Jake, about homosexuality.

How did you come up with the title?
I went to school with a friend who has the last name Hunsinger, and I always thought it was a cool name, so I used it for my main character. I titled the book Becoming Andy Hunsinger because the book’s about Andy emotional and sexual evolution.

My Review:
Andy Hunsinger unequivocally recognizes that he’s gay the summer before his senior year at Florida State University. His hidden escapades with a closeted airman confirm this, and when he returns to school in August of 1976, he seeks a small apartment for himself knowing he can’t bring a man back to his room in the frathouse.

It’s not as difficult a transition as Andy first imagined. He likes decorating his space and teaching himself to cook. Now, however, he’s lonely. It’s not like there’s a lot of options for entertainment at this time. He finds a gay-friendly bar which he cruises and he sometimes has luck finding a one-night guy, but he truly desires a steady partner. He thinks he does, but when Andy joins a rally against bigoted Anita Bryant’s “Save The Children” crusade Andy gets “outed” on local television. He soon finds himself single again. But, he’s not entirely alone. He’s met lots of gay men who’ve come out in this time, and made allies who assist him in his life as he copes with the fall out of his public status. His job as a caddie at a prominent Tallahassee golf club is at risk, which would be a big financial blow for Andy. Meanwhile, he’s making new friends, and new allies by the day. Still, he worries about how his family will take the news. And, he wonders about a closeted friend, Travis, who’s struggling with his family’s decree that he remain celibate.

This is a really interesting book. It’s told in an almost memoir fashion which generally bothers me, but didn’t in this case. The cast of time is clear and the historic details are amazing. I grew up in the 70s/80s and could easily envision this story unfolding through the lens of my memories. There are times, because this felt memoir-y, when I was a little overwhelmed by asides and description, but then the author looped all that fab detail into a point I hadn’t expected, and it made great sense. I really liked how open, honest and caring Andy was, for all the isolation and personal despair he suffered. He was never too busy to help a friend, or too hurt to mend a relationship.

I loved the slow unfolding of his love story with Travis. These guys have had traumatic outings, and Andy embraced himself, with the help of his friends and family, while Travis had a much different experience. Andy’s no stranger to violence, and refuses to let another suffer if he has a means to help. We experience about 18 months of Andy’s life in the book, and it’s time well spent. He’s a character worth knowing, and his story is remarkable in its commonness; it’s approachable and interesting, with curves that come just when the reader thinks Andy’s finally got everything going in the right direction. The resolution is what I’d call a HFN, or Happy For Now ending, though it was upbeat enough that I felt confident Andy and Travis would be alright on the other side of the page. It’s not a strict romance, though. More a coming out/coming-of-age story that has romantic elements, and a quiet love story that only builds in the last quarter of the book. That said, I really enjoyed the story as a whole, and admired Andy as a man and a character throughout. I enjoyed his journey and recommend the book.

Interested? You can find BECOMING ANDY HUNSINGER on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a book of your choice from NineStar Press.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jere’ M. Fishback is a former journalist and trial lawyer who now writes fiction full time. He lives with his partner Greg on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When he’s not writing, Jere’ enjoys reading, playing his guitar, jogging, swimming laps, fishing, and watching sunsets from his deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Catch up with Jere’ on his website, Facebook, and Goodreads.

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!