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!

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.
wantedagentleman_tourbanner_1
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.

Love’s Value: More Than RAG AND BONE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new magical M/M romance from the historical Charm of Magpies world conjured by KJ Charles. RAG AND BONE marks the beginning of a new series and features an interracial couple who’ve got some true dilemmas. As you know I simply loved A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION, THINK OF ENGLAND, and THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL, so I knew I’d love this historical, magical romance.

Rag and Bone (Rag and Bone, #1)About the book:
It’s amazing what people throw away…
Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.

Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.

But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicking Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.

This story is set in the world of the Charm of Magpies series.

Warning: Contains a warlock who needs to go straight (but isn’t), a waste-man running out of patience, blood magic, bad-tempered justiciars, and a pen with a mind of its own.

My Review:
Crispin is a disgraced warlock attempting rehabilitation. He had no idea when he was recruited, as a child, by a blood magician that he was doing anything illegal. It was only when his mentor and caretaker was found guilty of murder that Crispin’s involvement became known. He’s been offered several mentors to re-train him in acceptable use of magic–and has failed all attempts, his magic–graphimancy–simply doesn’t work like other types. Using his forbidden bone pen (fashioned from one of his own finger bones!) Crispin can draw with his own blood and make magic happen. It’s a bit harrowing, and highly frowned upon.

Ned and Crispin met when Ned assisted in the capture of Crispin’s murderous mentor. They have maintained a clandestine love over the past several months, despite Ned’s aversion to magic. He is “flit” able to hear magic, and he also despises this ability. As Crispin takes on yet another mentor, Ned’s getting embroiled in a magical plot–jar sellers, like his neighbor, are being killed in extraordinary ways. Ned can hear the use of magic, and Crispin breaks his oath to save Ned and his rag shop for certain destruction. As the story unfolds Ned and Crispin learn that a great danger is being unleashed, and it’s up to them to save London…

It’s a fantastic mystery, and a sweet romance. This book is the first in a spin-off series from the Charm of Magpies, and fully enjoyable on its own–though I will admit to rushing back and buying up the Charm of Magpie books. I’ve not read a book by this author that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed, so it’s not a big gamble.

Interested? You can find RAG AND BONE on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

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!

Redefining A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION–A Review

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a fantastic historical M/M romance from KJ Charles. You’ll remember that I’ve loved THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL and THINK OF ENGLAND. A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION is the third book in a series, and I’m now determined to go get the others, as I adore this world and the gentlemen who inhabit it.

A Gentleman's Position (Society of Gentlemen, #3)About the book:

Power, privilege, and the rigid rules of class leave two hearts yearning for connection in the sizzling new Society of Gentlemen novel from K. J. Charles.
 
Among his eccentric though strictly principled group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant on whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. Yet when Richard has a problem, he turns to his valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius—and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. If there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is never to dally with servants. But when David is close enough to touch, the rules of class collide with the basest sort of animal instinct: overpowering lust.

For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.

My Review:

This is the third book in a series, but can be enjoyed as a standalone. Honestly, though, I’m only more eager to read the preceding books, now.

5 Stars for this historical M/M romance set in 1820s London.

Lord Richard Vane is the go-to man of his collection of wealthy friends of a certain (homosexual) persuasion. And, his personal valet, David Cyprian, is Richard’s go-to man, the one who will soil his hands with the sundry business of keeping “proper” gentlemen from social and legal peril. David is more than a valet, he is Richard’s closest confidant and the man to whom he is attracted beyond bearing, and one man that Richard will never pursue because doing so is 1.) beneath his station 2.) too wrought with the power-imbalance. A man should never dally with his housestaff. Not a good man, anyway, and Richard is nothing if not the perfect gentleman.

David has lost his heart to Richard over his nearly five years of service. There is nothing David will not do for Richard, and he takes great pride in caring for all of his intimate details, attiring Richard in such a way as to make him the envy of all his peers, and David a sought-after valet. Not that David is willing to leave Richard’s service, well, not until that fateful kiss, that danged incendiary moment that David cannot forget and that Richard refuses to address.

The ensuing quarrel puts Richard in a place he has been before, on the outs with the man he held dearest, for the simple problem of not knowing how to deal with his love’s needs. Because, yes, Richard unequivocally loves David, and wants him back. He tries to arrange things so that he can keep David close, though not directly his servant, and this is unsuitable, as well. It seems all is lost, to Richard anyway, when his mates come calling. There is a predicament–likely stemming from the plots of previous books–that could cause the death of two of his friends’ partners, and a great deal of embarrassment for not only Richard’s friends, but also himself. There are few ways to handle this situation, and none of them suited to the gentry. No, a go-to man must be employed, and David is the best of them. If only Richard’s obtuseness hadn’t sent him packing.

This is a fascinating book. As I mentioned I had not read the earlier stories in the series, a deficiency I plan to rectify. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, with two men from such different worlds falling for one another, and how rigidly they kept their roles, when their deepest desires could have been quenched by some proper tumbling. (Or, improper tumbling, which I will reveal DOES happen and is delicious!!) The problems of the Ricardians (Richard’s set of friends) are all very dire, and David takes the weight of them on his narrow but sturdy shoulders. The villain of this piece is a man that is generally detestable, power-mad and brutal, and his comeuppance is well-planned and brilliantly executed by a man who is not simply a servant, but a red-headed bastard to boot. It was a fantastic coup and one more reason Richard loves him with his whole gigantic heart.

The book ends with the assurance of love and partnership, inasmuch as it can be managed by a gentleman and his go-to man in such times. I adored it, and hope they pass many years in private togetherness.

Interested? You can find A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. 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!

What happened to 2015?!

book meme 6So…wow! The year’s end already? I’m a bit stunned, but also grateful. Some years whoosh by like a snowplow burying me under, but this year I’ve had the opportunity to read some really fun books, travel and interact with fantastic authors and review-types, like myself, and enjoy many moments along the way.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I also write, and I’m at the point of sending out a manuscript to agents coming next week. Fingers crossed that I’ll have the chance to promote some of my own fiction one day soon!

Book meme 3For the blog, I’ve gotten some great stats. Nearly 13,000 pages views this year. Not bad for a relatively unknown chick who drones on and on about books. If you’ve signed up to get my posts emailed, you’re in good company–140 of you special folks right now. Thanks for joining me on this madcap escapade! Lots of people are finding my reviews, and reading them/sharing them. I appreciate that so much, because it’s not easy reading and writing content to support the blog. It takes hours and hours each day, in fact. My hubs will attest he’d much rather I gave (most of) it up, so I could just sit and veg out watching TV with him…crossing his fingers that that might ever happen. TV is not really my thing.

book meme 5

Goodreads tells me I read 375 books this year, but it’s been more. I didn’t log all my reads, though there are few that didn’t get reviews there. I have had a great time working with Joyfully Jay Reviews, picking up some excellent reads through their platform and generally interacting with those lovely folks. Authors have reached out to me and I’ve reached back, supporting their fiction in the best way I can. That’s a wonderfully rewarding experience, emotionally, and helps my pocketbook from getting TOO frayed. Yes, there are books that I do buy, and I cherish all my books–whether they were purchased or gifted for my review.

As this is a year’s end recap, it’s apt to highlight some books/series that got into my brain in the past 12 months.

Best read of the year:
No question it was CARRY THE OCEAN by Heidi Cullinan. This book touched my soul and left it altered for the better. Having suffered depression in my life, and having close friends/family with kids on the Autism Spectrum, this plain-spoken M/M romance between a brilliant autistic man and his depressive neighbor was spectacular.

Best YA read:
NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST by Eric Lindstrom. Touching tale of an orphaned blind girl who learns to “see” everyone she knows in the best light–even herself.

Best YA series:
I’ve really enjoyed reading the Backstage Pass series of contemporary YA romances between the members of the boy band Seconds To Juliet and the smart, worthwhile girls the boys all fall for. There are five books in the series, and I think I reviewed 4 of them…
Abby and the Cute One, Mia and the Bad Boy, Anya and the Shy Guy, Daisy and the Front Man.

Book Meme-1Best Adrenaline Rush:
KICK AT THE DARKNESS by Keira Andrews, a zombie apocalypse M/M romance kept me glued to my iPad long into the night, and the next day.

Best SciFi series:
I’ve really enjoyed the AI world carved out by Susan Kaye Quinn’s Legacy Human series. It’s a bit dystopian, a bit tech and a bit romance. And I love all those bits! Looking forward to reading more of this in 2016. THE LEGACY HUMAN, THE DUALITY BRIDGE, STORIES OF SINGULARITY.

Best contemporary New Adult series:
Karen Stivali’s Moments in Time series is really a must read for me. This is a contemporary M/M romance which is emotional and sexy, at the same time. I’ve loved all four Moments books so far, and eagerly anticipate the next release. MOMENT OF IMPACT, MOMENT OF TRUTH, MOMENT OF CLARITY, and MOMENT OF SILENCE.
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Best Paranormal Romance:
THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL by KJ Charles rocked my world and set it right again. Historical M/M paranormal romance that kept me turning the page long after I went to bed.

Most Resilient Heroines: (Teen)
Ivy in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY by Amy Engel–She takes on her entire desolate town and finds the true love of her life. YA dystopian.

Lulu in MY BEST EVERYTHING by Sarah Tomp. West Virginian high school senior Lulu’s college fund has dried up, but she can’t bear to stay in her small town any longer. So, she enlists the help of Mason to make a fortune selling illegal moonshine. YA contemporary.

Morgan La Fey in SWORD by Realm Lovejoy. Morgan kidnaps a prince, drags him through the swamps of Camelot and helps him find Excalibur–all to thwart a murder plot. And her execution? Wow. YA fantasy.
Book Meme 4
Best Action/Adventure:
I AM THE TRAITOR is the final installment in the Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff. You really need to strap in and read I AM THE WEAPON and I AM THE MISSION, first. You’ll thank me. YA contemporary.

Best Enemies to Lovers:
Historical
TO LOVE A TRAITOR by JL Merrow really flipped all my historical British M/M romance switches…
Christmas Romance
IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS by Keira Andrews took two battered hearts and shoved them into a car on a cross-country trek to make it home in time for Christmas. Swoon.

Best erotica:
The CAUGHT ON CAMERA series by Lily Harlem is spectacular M/M romance. Just loved all the sexy sexy bits, and the romance that developed between two new-to-porn stars on a filming trip was tender and lovely.

Best Menage:
M/F/M
THREE TWO ONE by JA Huss. Hot and chilling, by turns. This is a dark romance and not everyone makes it out alive.
M/M/M
SHARING A POND by Alex Whitehall. Frog Shifters. Pretty much knocked me out. Not the sexytimes, as those were satisfactory, but the emotional issues were excellent, and I’ve got a thing for frogs, I think.
Historical M/F/M:
THE MISTRESS AND HER MEN by Julia Talbot. A sassy widow and a daring nobleman–plus some BDSM? Yes, mistress!
Historical M/M/M:
RITE OF SUMMER by Tess Bowery was so loving and tender, and troubled.

Best Near Historical:
IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT by Judy Blume, historical fiction featuring her true-life experience of living in a town where three airplanes crashed within 59 days of each other. Harrowing!

Best Recovery Story:
CLEAN by Mia Kerick. This one gave me chills. M/M YA romance between two guys who’ve been down and out and almost didn’t make it.

book-meme-8Best Subculture:
Who knew the Amish would captivate me? I adored Keira Andrew’s M/M Amish Romances A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA, A CLEAN BREAK, and A WAY HOME. They really touched my heart.

Honestly, I could go on for blogs, and blogs. But I won’t; books to read, books to write after all! That said, I’m looking forward to sharing reviews for great books in the coming year and I hope you’ll enjoy reading along with me.

Feel free to send me your recommendations. Goodness knows, I’ll probably pick it up. (Fiction, and preferably romance-ish, though. I don’t review non-fiction, memoir or cookbooks.)

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!
Book Meme 2

 

Captivated by THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing another fantastic historical M/M romance from KJ Charles, this time with a heaping helping of the paranormal. THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL is a gorgeously told Victorian story about Robert Caldwell, a journalist, who contracts occultist Simon Fleximal to rid his crumbling ancestral home of the ghost of one of his outre ancestors. It starts out fast and hard, and it ends so dang tender! I couldn’t quit reading it. I adore how KJ writes her stalwart British men. They are so strong and proper, yet so vulnerable.

The Secret Casebook of Simon FeximalAbout the book:
A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor
Dear Henry,
I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

My Review:
This book is written as a series of tell-all vignettes confessing the TRUE nature of the partnership between renown occultist Simon Feximal and his journalist-cum-paranormalist Robert Caldwell. The setting is 1890s London and men are not allowed, legally, to have sexual relations with each other. (But boy-howdy, do they!)

They meet because Robert has a ghost inhabiting his ancestral home. He calls out Simon, who has the ability to communicate with spirits, by means of writings that etch across his skin, when he is in the presence of a ghost. It is horrifying and fascinating to Robert, and the manner of expulsion of his ancestral ghost is sexy-sexy. This was actually so fascinating to read. It could have gone campy, but it never did.

Each chapter is a case; all of them have some heat between Simon and Robert, mostly as a way for Simon to disgorge the coldness that saps him while communing with spirits. I honestly could not get enough of this couple. There could have been a hundred chapters and I’d have continued turning the pages. There are little threads woven in the stories which connect one to the next, but each is unique and interesting while building on the developing love story between these two men.

I won’t say this is tender, because it isn’t. There is tenderness at times, but often it’s harsh and necessary couplings. The desperation they both experience, amid life-and-death encounters kept me captivated. There is incredible tenderness in their small gestures–the ones which need to be hidden to protect them both. Political machinations, revenge plots, destruction, self-sacrifice–it’s all in here. The journal-style of the writing allows an intimate look into Robert’s side of the story and he’s just a dream of an MC. He so adores Simon that it’s impossible not to love Simon through Robert’s POV.

I adored the historical setting, and the old-style British grammar and spellings. I felt like I was there, as gorgeously and clearly as the settings were described. Nothing like a good ghost story–and this book is chock full of good ones.

Interested? You can find THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. 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 @kj_charles or on 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!