Finding Love MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M paranormal romance from Josh Lanyon. MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT is the first book in the Bedknobs and Broomsticks series, and I absolutely couldn’t resist it for that fact alone. I loved that children’s story as a kid!

About the book:
A gay high-society wedding. A stolen book of spells. A love-threatening lie. Can a witch avoid a murder rap without revealing the supernatural truth?

Cosmo Saville guiltily hides a paranormal secret from his soon-to-be husband. Thanks to a powerful love spell, uncertainty threatens his nuptial magic. But when he’s arrested for allegedly killing a longtime rival, he could spend his honeymoon behind bars…

Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith never believed in love until Cosmo came along. Falling head over heels for the elegant antiques dealer is an enchantment he never wants to break. So when all fingers point to Cosmo’s guilt, John races to prove his fiancé’s innocence before they take their vows.

As Cosmo hunts for the real killer among the arcane aristocracy, John warns him to leave it to the police. But with an unseen enemy threatening to expose Cosmo’s true nature, the couple’s blissful future could shatter like a broken charm.

Can Cosmo find the lost grimoire, clear his name, and keep John’s love alive, or will black magic “rune” their wedding bells?

Mainly by Moonlight is the first book in the sexy Bedknobs and Broomsticks romantic gay mystery series. If you like spellbinding suspense, steamy fun, and a dash of paranormal, then you’ll love Josh Lanyon’s charming tale.

My Review:
Even though he hasn’t practiced his magic in a couple of years Cosmo Saville is a powerful witch. Duc of Westlands and second behind his mother in the succession line to the Abracadantes craft tradition, Cosmo’s just not that into all the traditions. It’s easier for him to blend into the non-magic world if he doesn’t use his magic for everyday tasks, and he’s mostly successful with the exception of portal traveling–that’s just plain practical magic, so he can avoid traffic and what-not. Cosmo owns an antique shop in San Francisco and he discovers a grisly murder of a competitor in his field–who’d revealed he’d found an ancient grimoire. Cosmos barely escapes the scene, but is definitely under suspicion.

He inadvertantly encounters Police Commissioner John Galbraith as they duel for the top bid on an antique bed with craft markings. John, an avowed non-believer in all magical arts, wants it as a whimsical gift for his younger half-sister Jinx, who fashions herself a “witch,” though Cosmo can detect no craft within her. John is rather rude to Cosmo, and his friend thinks it a lark to put a love enchantment on them. Soon, they run into one another more and more frequently, and each time the tension is more of the sexual than avaricious kind. It’s not long before they both fall head over heels, and that’s when Cosmo learn the truth about the love spell–only John’s already proposed and the wedding is mere weeks away. Cosmo hasn’t even told John about his abilities in witchcraft–how can he possibly explain about the love spell?

Also, it seems that John’s intervention is the only thing keeping Cosmo from being arrested for murder–so, will he throw Cosmo to the wolves if he thinks Cosmo enchanted him? For all the complicated twists, there’s a lightness, and a hope to the story. Both Cosmo and John never thought they would fall in love, and yet their hearts and minds are so in tune. Their sexual chemistry is another kind of magic, though, and it’s bound these men tighter than their impending marriage vows.

This is by turns taut and whimsical. The mystery is meant to develop over at least three stories, so we get some immediate resolution to Cosmo’s current problems but new issues are on the horizon to keep the major plot arcs in motion. John’s mother, to whom he is very close, is a bigoted, magic-hating woman, and her antics upset Cosmo and his mother. Cosmo’s mother is unhappy about this marriage, because it means Cosmo is further distancing himself from the “craft” realm. Keeping all the magic antics from John’s consciousness is difficult, and upsetting to Cosmo, especially when there’s a witch seeking revenge casting spells at Cosmo. I like the storyline, and the characters. It’s fun start to a series, with mismatched lovers who may just turn out to be star-crossed.

Interested? You can find MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Josh Lanyon is the author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance.

Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan’s annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place). The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male Male Couple in the 2nd Annual contest held by the 20,000+ Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist (twice for Gay Mystery), an Edgar nominee and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.

Josh is married and lives in Southern California. Catch up with Josh’s new on her website, Facebook or twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Wrapped Up in IRON & VELVET–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently re-released contemporary F/F paranormal mystery/romance from Alexis Hall. IRON & VELVET is the first book in the Kate Kane Paranormal Investigator series, and I was really intrigued. I’ve only read M/M romance from this author before, including FOR REAL, LOOKING FOR GROUP, and WAITING FOR THE FLOOD and PANSIES. This mostly-girl showdown is smart, sassy and little bit sexy.

About the book:
I like my women like I like my whiskey: more than is good for me.

Name’s Kane, Kate Kane. I’m a paranormal private investigator, which is like a normal private investigator except—and stop me if you’re having trouble following this—more paranormal. This business comes with a few basic rules: don’t start drinking before noon, don’t get your partner killed, don’t sleep with the woman who killed him.

Last year I broke all of them.

The only rule I didn’t break was the one that said don’t work for vampires. But then a dead werewolf showed up outside the Soho shag palace of Julian Saint-Germain—a bloodsucking flibbertigibbet who’s spent the last eight centuries presiding over an ever-growing empire of booze, sex and hemoglobin.

I shouldn’t have taken the job. The last thing I needed was to get caught in a supernatural smackdown between a werewolf pack and a vampire prince. Even if the vampire prince was dangerously my type. But what can I say? I was broke, I’m a sucker for a pretty face and I gave up on making good decisions a long time ago.

My Review:
Kate Kane is a take-no-shit PI who totally drinks whisky for breakfast. Her specialty is in paranormal cases, and she’s particularly suited to this being half-Fae. Her mum is the Queen of the Wild Hunt and Kate can draw on her mother’s strength and power when necessary. She’s had a bad year, what with her ex-girlfriend murdering her investigation partner and then getting locked up for it. She’s desperate for a little cash, though, which is why she agrees to investigate the suspiscious death of a young werewolf at the Velvet, a vampire-owned hedonism bar.

Julian St. Germain is one of the four vampire princes–despite being female. She was once a nun on a mission to kill paranormal creatures, but a lot happens in 800 years. While Julian is strong, ancient and powerful, she also doesn’t want to risk a war breaking out all over London between the vampires and werewolf clans, and Kate seems like a sexy morsel who could solve the mystery and satisfy Julian’s…appetites. While Kate normally stays away from bedding vampires–and clients–there’s an undeniable pull between them. Also, Kate is definitely a master at bad decisions.

This is a fun and engaging read with a lush paranormal subculture set into London’s urbanity. I loved the class between the contemporary and the historical physical spaces here, which plays a counterpoint to Kate and Julian’s deepening attraction. There are so many intriguing characters, from the female werewolf alpha, who is a lingerie model who wouldn’t kick Kate out of bed for eating chips, to a genderqueer vamp ready to wreak havoc in stiletto heels, or a female golem who just wants to be useful, but not in a sexual way. Plus, the intricate politics of the different paranormal entities is vast and shrouded in arcane traditions only immortal beings could remember.

A second murder and a direct attack on Julian leads Kate, plus an unlikely collection of vamps, werewolves, and mages, into the bowels of London. They also probe Julian’s ancient history to find what could be stalking her. Wow, was the culprit not pretty. The pacing was brisk and Kate’s deadpan narration was spare and self-deprecating. I think I nearly wet myself coming across one of Kate’s million epitaphs–she mentally composes one each time she’s in deep crap with little chance of survival–so, like 7 a day while on the case. They are almost like tiny refrains, bringing humor in at the darkest moments.

The resolution brings some tragedy, but Kate survives to fight again, and she’ll need Julian’s protection if she’s going to make it any longer in this world. After all, Kate’s a “Beloved daughter,” and doesn’t particularly care to be “Sorely missed.” There’s a dash of sexytimes here and there, while Kate and Julian learn about one another, and try to figure out who could be hunting Julian. It felt like enough, and I didn’t want the romance to slow down the investigation, so I’m glad it didn’t.

Interested? You can find IRON & VELVET on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

Catch up with him on his website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

New Beginnings? LOCK NUT–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly released contemporary M/M mystery romance from JL Merrow. LOCK NUT is the fifth book in the Plumber’s Mate series and I hope it isn’t the last. I adored PRESSURE HEAD, RELIEF VALVE and BLOW DOWN. For those who haven’t picked up these books, they feature a plumber with a knack for finding water and lost/hidden items–including dead or missing people, and his former bully who’s now his fiance. It’s set in England, and has some absolutely awesome vernacular.

About the book:
Still waters run deadly.
Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.

The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.

Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

My Review:
Tom Paretsky–maybe he is Polish–is a plumber with a unique knack for finding what’s hidden, including dead bodies. His fiance, Phil Morrison, is a private investigator, so it’s a handy skill to have. In this story Tom and Phil are planning their wedding, but it’s not going well, especially when Tom’s face gets put on the telly as a suspect in a murder.

Tom’s committed to finding the true killer before another death gets put on his head. And Phil’s determined to make it to the altar–with Tom intact. Though moving in together hasn’t been without issues. Tom’s a little territorial, and he’s slow to adapt to big changes. Like finding out about his paternity issues and building his familial relationships. Phil knows Tom needs nudging, even when Phil goes a bit far.

As with the other books in the series, the sexytimes are on the down-low but Tom’s raw wit keeps the pace cracking along and we know how very much he adores Phil. That’s totally reciprocated, too, even though Tom has self-esteem issues. Tom’s efforts to track down the killer are more personal this time. He’s making friends with the kooky family of the grieving widow, knowing that she’s the prime suspect. I did like all the misdirection, even if I had picked out the killer in the beginning. The harrowing bits have the appropriate amount of tension, and enough suspense to make me wonder if we’d hear those wedding bells pealing, or not. I loved how it ended, and I really hope to see more of these books in the future.

Interested? You can find LOCK NUT on Goodreads, <a href=”Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Pop on over to my pal Joyfully Jay and leave a comment to be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Needing a RELIEF VALVE-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M mystery romance from JL Merrow. RELIEF VALVE is the second book in the Plumber’s Mate series and a fave of mine. I adored book 1, PRESSURE HEAD, and book 4, BLOW DOWN, which I read out of order. For those who haven’t picked up these books, they feature a is a plumber with a knack for finding water and lost/hidden items–including dead or missing people. It’s set in England, and has some absolutely awesome vernacular. The book came out several years back, but is being re-released by a new publisher.

About the book:
If you dig up the past, be prepared for some dirt to stick.
The relationship between Tom Paretski, a cheeky plumber with a gift for finding hidden things, and PI Phil Morrison may only be a few weeks old, but already it’s under attack. Tom’s friends and family are convinced the former bully isn’t good enough for him, and they’re not shy about saying so.

Then Tom’s prickly older sister, Cherry, is poisoned at her own engagement party. Tom’s left reeling and not knowing who to suspect. Could it be her new fiancé, Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and a taste for taxidermy? Or someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister? Meanwhile, Tom’s honorary auntie’s left him a gag gift from beyond the grave that could be more significant than anyone knows.

Phil’s fighting against the clock to solve the case before somebody ends up dead. And with the poisoner hiding a dark secret, Phil’s terrified Tom could have been the target all along.

My Review:
Tom Paretsky–maybe he’s not Polish–is a plumber with a unique knack for finding what’s hidden, including dead bodies. He’s got a trick hip after spending nearly a year in traction when a lorry hit him back in secondary school. The fact that he ran into the street to avoid schoolmate Phil Morrison and his gang of bullies isn’t a fact Tom’s family isn’t loathe to forget. Not even when Tom and Phil have now become an item…of sorts.

That said, Tom’s determine to change his family’s minds, and insists on bringing Phil to his sister Cherry’s engagement party. When Cherry is poisoned there, well, it’s good that Phil was available to help out on the case. This mystery/romance is charming and harrowing by turns. Tom wants to help figure out who might behind the attack, and Phil makes it his first priority; Phil isn’t sure that Cherry was the target. Tom having inherited some undisclosed property seems to make him worth bumping off, is Phil’s thought. I have a special fondness for amateur sleuth stories, and I love Tom. He’s such a fun narrator, and he’s always getting himself into a scrape. His reaction to Cherry’s fiance–whoo boy! Greg is a big man, gregarious and creepily friendly–as well as a canon for Church of England. Tom’s quietly horrified about Greg’s taxidermy hobby, and not sure if Greg is entirely straight–which leads to some inappropriately hilarious situations while Cherry recovers. And Phil’s not amused. Though he does take a friendly shine to Tom’s bestie Gary’s diminutive fiance–a former adult film star turned veg-trader in the nearby market.

While they figure out where their relationship is going, Phil and Tom work on both Cherry’s case, and on finding the “hidden” inheritance from Tom’s surrogate aunt. This last part threatens to tear apart Tom’s family even more so than Tom’s choice of boyfriend, or Cherry’s poisoning. The pace is as brisk as Tom’s rambling chatter. If you dig Brit blokes going on doing ordinary/extraordinary amateur sleuthing, well, this might be a book for you. I’ve devoured them all at this point…and would read another dozen more.

Interested? You can find RELIEF VALVE on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Bad Juju in WICKED CHARM–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release day review and giveaway for a contemporary YA mystery/romance from Amber Hart. WICKED CHARM is an interesting read about two kids finding a connection, and the killer who might be trying to cut them loose.

Catch my review and enter the gift-blast giveaway down below.
About the book:
Nothing good comes from living in the Devil’s swamp.
Willow Bell thinks moving to the Okefenokee area isn’t half bad, but nothing prepares her for what awaits in the shadows of the bog.
Girls are showing up dead in the swamp. And she could be next.
Everyone warns Willow to stay away from Beau Cadwell―the bad boy at the top of their suspect list as the serial killer tormenting the small town.
But beneath his wicked, depthless eyes, there’s something else that draws Willow to him.
When yet another girl he knew dies, though, Willow questions whether she can trust her instincts…or if they’re leading to her own death.

How about a little taste?

Though Gran’s land is mostly wet, there’s solidness, too. My eyes trace the long path that cuts the property between Gran and Mr. Cadwell in half. I’m expecting to see nature—the kinds of birds Dad and Mom study, snakes, grass, and forever sky—the same things I’ve seen every morning since moving here with Dad and Mom to help Gran, who’s ailing but doesn’t like to admit it.

I get halfway down the path with my stare before my eyes snag on something. A serving spoon falls from my hand with a clatter into the sink.

“Who,” I whisper, “is that?”

Across the way stands a boy. He’s staring at me, wearing a twisted grin like he knows me. The wind ruffles his depths-of-the-ocean black hair. He’s wearing a dark shirt and dark jeans, and I cannot tear my eyes from his.

Gran hobbles over and looks out the window. “What is he doing so close to our side?”

“You know him?” I ask.

I can’t stop staring out the old weathered screen.

“Hell right, I do. Grandson of the evil next door. Trouble in living form. Someone oughta hand that boy a Bible. Change his life forever and ever, amen.”

Gran curses a lot. “Hell” is her favorite word.

“Hell, you’d better look away first,” Gran says. “B’fore he snares you for good.”

I wonder if she’s right. I want to look away first. Okay, that’s a lie. I don’t want to look away at all.

“Mother!” Dad’s voice enters the room a moment before he does. “Did I just hear you cursing around Willow again?”

I rip my eyes away—though it’s hard—to see Dad clad in shorts and a T-shirt, ready for another day of observation. He and Mom are ornithologists, scientists who study birds. Mom follows Dad into the kitchen and takes a seat at the table; her strawberry-blond hair is braided and slipped through the adjustable hole in her hat. Dad’s hair is like Gran’s and mine, his eyes, too. Mom’s eyes are blue, and I’m secretly glad mine are not. I enjoy being like Gran.

“It’s not good to curse around her; she’s only seventeen,” Dad continues.

In Florida, Dad and Mom studied birds so much that I hardly ever saw them. Here’s no different, but at least now I have Gran to keep me company.

“Doesn’t matter, and you know it,” Gran says. “A heart is a heart is a heart. A few words here and there won’t change that.”

My stare goes to the window again. The boy is gone.

“Quit looking for that boy, you hear?” Gran says, knowing.

“I’m not looking for him,” I reply. But I’m a lying liar.

“What boy?” Dad asks.

I join him and Mom at the table.

“No one,” my lying self answers.

“Stop thinking about him,” Gran says.

“I’m not!” I say, frustrated. But only because she knows me so well that I can’t hide myself from her.

Clearly Gran isn’t a fan. We drop it and eat our breakfast, Dad and Mom jabbering about some new species of bird they think they’ve discovered. Gran watching me like a hawk. And me wondering about the gorgeous black-souled, trouble-in-living-form grandson of the evil next door.

My Review:
Willow Bell has just come to like in the Okefenokee swamp with her aging grandmother and her parents–who are ornithologists and often gone on bird-watching excursions. Her grandma’s property has one close neighbor, Mr. Cadwell, who her Gran states is the Devil. He shares his home with his twin grandkids, Beau and Charlotte. Willow, Beau and Charlotte are all seniors in high school, and Willow notices Beau rather soon after her arrival. His fierce stare and attractiveness pull her in, though she gives good weight to her Gran’s warnings about Cadwells and how they will break a woman’s heart.

Beau has a big reputation as a heartbreaker, and it’s well-earned. Still, Willow isn’t too starry eyed. She may find Beau attractive, but she’s also a girl with a mission on her mind. She wants to explore her new surroundings and make new friends. Any interaction with Beau is long on exploring–outside of one’s own mind–and short on the physical. Beau is deeply private, and the rumors swill regarding his parents and their long absence–though that didn’t make much sense to me; its a small community. Nosy parkers abound. Still, he likes that Willow gives him the space to be real, and he confides in her some of his deepest secrets. Their bond is tested once the bodies of two girls turn up in the swamp. Two girls that Beau briefly dated. Is Beau involved? What about his friends, who seem a mite too jealous of Beau getting all the girls to swoon for him?

Willow is quick to defend Beau, but evidence points to someone close to him, and she’s not sure how to take it. Naturally, Beau defends his own, but the answer only comes to light when his family is threatened. It’s an interesting mystery/romance as Beau and Willow fight for their love against both Willow’s disapproving Gran, and the killer. I liked the action bits, and the context. The swamp is so well-described it’s almost another character in the book. These kids truly love their world, and are highly protective of the land and people who live there. That was interesting to experience, as a reader.

The end is a nice twist, with a killer that wasn’t the first suspect to mind. While Beau and Charlotte deal with their own personal tragedies, Willow’s there as a buffer, a friend, and more for Beau, just like she started.

Interested? You can find WICKED CHARM on Goodreads, Amazon (US, UK, CA, and AU) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and GooglePlay. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a gift bundle including a $10 Starbucks card, a signed copy of WICKED CHARM, and two ebooks.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Amber Hart resides on the Florida coastline with family and a plethora of animals she affectionately refers to as her urban farm. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand. She’s the author of Wicked Charm and the Before & After series for teen readers, and the Untamed series for adult readers. Visit her online at http://www.amberhartbooks.com

Catch up with Amber on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Cephalopod Coffeehouse January 2018: Coming to a PRESSURE HEAD

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Today I’m continuing my Enemies-to-Lovers theme with a contemporary M/M mystery romance from JL Merrow. PRESSURE HEAD is the first in the Plumber’s Mate series of truly fun mysteries that add a little romance. The main character is a plumber with a knack for finding water and lost/hidden items–including dead or missing people. It’s set in England, and has the absolute vernacular. The book came out several years back, but is being re-released by a new publisher.

About the book:
Some things are better left hidden.
Tom Paretski’s not just a plumber with a dodgy hip courtesy of a schoolboy accident. He also has a sixth sense for finding hidden things. Called in by the police to help locate a body near Brock’s Hollow, he’s staggered to encounter Phil Morrison, his old school crush—and the closeted bully whose actions contributed to Tom’s accident.

Phil’s all grown up now, and Tom’s unwilling attraction to him is back with a vengeance. Phil’s now openly gay—and what’s more, he’s interested in Tom’s personal charms as well as his psychic talents. As a private investigator called in by the dead woman’s parents, Phil is sceptical about Tom’s unusual gift, but nevertheless quick to spot its potential to aid him in his work.

The further they go with the investigation, the less they can ignore their shared past, and the more the pressure and the heat build between them. But Tom isn’t certain he wants to know the secrets he’s helping to uncover, while there’s a murderer on the loose who won’t hesitate to kill again—and this uneasy couple is moving right into his sights.

My Review:
Tom Paretski is a plumber with an unfortunate name–his step-granddad was Polish, and customers continually marvel at Tom’s fluent English–and a family that’s still rather posh. Tom might have gone to uni if his schoolmate bullies hadn’t terrorized him into running into the street and getting hit by a lorry–resulting in eight months of surgeries and therapy and no time to study for his A-level exams. A decade later Tom’s philosophical about it; he’s had an inexplicable gift for finding water, which helps him on the leak trail. It’s also good for lost or hidden things. The more guilt associated with the secret hiding place, the stronger Tom can sense it, like a beacon of shame. And, his pal on the detective unit sometimes calls Tom in, on the down-low, if there’s a big search on.

It’s how he reunites with his chief childhood bully, Phil Morrison. Phil was a London cop, but now he’s returned to their hometown to set up a business in personal investigations. Phil doesn’t believe that Tom just stumbled across the body of the woman he’d been hired to find; he assumes Tom must have had inside information, info that could help his clients–the parents of the deceased girl and her devastated boyfriend–find peace and justice.

Tom isn’t best pleased to find Phil on his tail, or that he still, unwillingly, find Phil to be handsome. He wants to hate Phil for the part he played in Tom’s nightmarish bullying, and eventual injury. Phil though it was just boys-being-boys, but he’s sensitive enough to recognize that Tom’s understanding of the situation back then was very different from his own. And Phil admits a very serious level of respect for Tom, who was out and not-so-proud back at school. Phil suffered a lot of insecurity in those days, having been closeted himself, and a welfare family. Tom seemed smug, and posh, then, Phil thought, but only because Tom was afraid to get close to anyone and be pounded. Interesting that both men had a secret hankering back in school.

Now, however, Tom’s proved his valuable skill to Phil, and Phil’s taken to bringing him along in his investigations of the murder. It gets really dicey when they learn the victim had some issue within the church–where she volunteered in the budgets office. Lots of suspicions are being made about her boyfriend, a recovering addict, too. And it seems the only person with sufficient motive may have been the vicar, who’s hiding with his rather sordid past of wild sex parties.

The combinations of characters really bring this story to life. Tom’s casual English and affable nature win over some of the most recalcitrant of witnesses. I loved the banter, and Tom’s sharp wit. The enemies-to-comrades-to-lovers angle worked out well, with appropriate delay and catch-up. And outrage, on the part of Tom’s pals and family; they all have a poor opinion of Phil from that school days. It’s interesting how fastidious Phil is about his clothing, car and flat–that he makes a great effort to look the part of the successful man, to distance himself from his impoverished childhood. Meanwhile, Tom, who was raised in a middle class family, has a workingman’s profession. So there’s some interesting class themes explored, as well as redemption for both Tom and Phil, for their bad childhood behavior. Their romance is sweet and catches Tom by surprise, in a good way. Expect a little bit of sexytimes, when they finally get on the same page, I’ve read two other books in this series and highly recommend them all.

Interested? You can find PRESSURE HEAD on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and be sure to check out the reviews for my fellow Coffeehouse presenters this month:

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!