Friends Band Together THE RIDDLES OF MULBERRY ISLAND–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today, I’m sharing a review for a new YA historical mystery with LGBTQ romantic elements from new-to-me author Huston Piner. THE RIDDLES OF MULBERRY ISLAND features a teen with two good friends who help him figure out the eerie lights and strange sights on abandoned Mulberry Island.

Scroll down for your chance to win a $10 GC, catch the excerpt and pick up a copy for yourself.
About the book:
While out fishing one bright summer day, fifteen-year-old Tommy Oakley is startled to spy what appears to be a giant fish surfacing in the inlet near Mulberry Island. Confused and a little fearful, he returns to Bayside, the tiny village where he lives, and recruits Wendy to help him solve the mystery.

A few nights later, Tommy goes camping with his best friend John, and they’re alarmed to see ghostly lights floating above the water and movement inside the island’s abandoned mansion.

Everyone in Bayside knows the island is uninhabited, but they also think it’s haunted, so Tommy and John are more than ready to stay away. But the strong-willed Wendy convinces the reluctant boys to investigate the source of the lights, thereby setting in motion a harrowing adventure that has them dodging bullets and running for their lives, all the while struggling to sort out their conflicted feelings for one another.

One thing is certain—if they survive the summer at all, things will never be the same between them again.

How about a little taste?

The Great Bird and the Big Fish
Summer 1952

Tommy Oakley dashed through the woods, stumbling over roots and ducking low-hanging branches. He knew they might get in trouble snooping around Mulberry Island, but he hadn’t bargained on this. Now all he could do was hope he was going in the right direction and that John and Wendy would be ready to sail as soon as he got there.

He swerved around thorny bushes and jumped over spiny brambles, gulping air, desperate to get away from his pursuer. It wasn’t easy. For every branch he ducked or squeezed past, two or more scratched him and tore at his sweat-drenched clothes. And all the while, his pursuer’s cursing and stumbling grew louder behind him. Somehow, the man was getting closer.

He’s still gaining on me? Doesn’t he ever get tired?

A glimpse of marsh confirmed Tommy was going in the right direction and would soon get to the safety of the boat. The thorny bushes were giving way to more open ground, and he was finding it easier to run in a straight line. But that also meant the man chasing him would find it easier too.

Up ahead, he spotted the area where they had hidden the dinghy. Just a little more and he’d get away. Panting, he tried to find the strength for a final burst of speed.

Bang!

The shot seemed to echo all around him.

Tommy gasped and froze in his tracks, listening, as fear of capture gave way to a more deadly alarm.

From somewhere came the loud click of a rifle being cocked.

As if fired from a gun himself, Tommy took off running in a complete panic.

The second bang was so loud it was deafening.

Then the whole world fell silent.

Tommy fell to the ground.

A branch gashed into his forehead, and he collapsed onto a bed of fallen leaves.

Blood oozed from his wounds.

He saw a fading image of the great bird.

And then darkness took him.

*

One month earlier

Tommy was sitting in his boat on a beautiful sunny afternoon, the handle of his pole loosely resting in his hand, his mind wandering. It was the first time his father had ever allowed him to go out fishing by himself.

As various thoughts crept across his mind, he happened to glance up, and there it was, soaring on the edge of the heavens.

The great bird stretched its wings and floated in wide swirling spirals. As Tommy watched it, a light breeze floated over him. The briny air filled his lungs, and he sighed, pushing sandy brown locks out of his eyes.

It had been a perfect day.

Well, almost perfect. He’d wanted it to be special, one to remember—and normally, he would have invited his friends John Webster and Wendy Harris to come along. The trouble was, lately, John and Wendy always seemed to be getting on each other’s nerves. And if Tommy only invited one of them, it would hurt the other one’s feelings. So, he’d snuck out by himself and spent the whole day fishing and thinking while the hours drifted by like the water all around him.

He glanced at his watch. It was four thirty.

“Keep an eye on the time,” his father had said.

“You be sure to get home early for supper,” his mother had added.

They always treated him like a child.

He looked up again at the great bird.

Probably on the prowl for a rat or fish or something.

He imagined having wings and sailing through the air. He’d soar and dive across the sky like he did underwater when he was swimming. He’d float up high like the great bird. He’d be free.

He smiled at the thought. Then, as he lowered his gaze, something caught his eye. It emerged in the inlet between Mulberry Island and the peninsula.

Tommy blinked and leaned forward, squinting into the distance. It looked like some kind of fish, but it was huge—it had to be for him to see it from all the way out in the middle of the bay.

For a moment, it sat there, and then, in the same unexpected way it had surfaced, the giant fish made a slow descent, vanishing below the surface.

Wow. That was incredible! But what was it—a whale? It would be very odd if it was. They never came this far inside the sound. And this fish had a large dorsal fin that looked more like some kind of weird top hat than a fin. He’d never heard of a whale that looked like that.

It was so strange, and all the more so because of where it was. But then again, everything strange seemed to be connected to Mulberry Island somehow.

“They’ll never believe it.” They never do anyway.

Tommy’s parents never took him seriously. His teacher said he had a “vivid imagination.” But as far as his family—and most of the people in Bayside, the tiny village where they lived—were concerned, he was either absentminded or just plain dumb.

It’s not fair. Mom and Pop treat me like a child.

It was like this boat. It had been a thirteenth birthday present, but he’d never even been allowed to use it on his own before today.

“Come on, Pop,” he’d pleaded over a year ago. “It’s embarrassing. I’m almost fourteen. It’s been nearly a year since you gave me the thing. I mean, why even call it mine?” Here he was begging for permission to do something his friends had been allowed to do for at least a year, if not longer.

“What a joke,” he had muttered under his breath.

“Yeah, Pop,” his brother Jacob had said. “Give the kid a break. He’ll be okay.”

Tommy would have been grateful for the moral support, but then Jacob had tousled his hair and added, “Won’t you, little guy?”

It was something Tommy positively despised. At twenty years old, Jacob wasn’t a bad guy, and he often sided with Tommy. But he had the uncanny knack of treating him like a silly but lovable little puppy, which irritated him to no end.

But it didn’t matter anyway. In the Oakley house, a “no” was a “no.” His fourteenth birthday came and went, the school year started, and winter passed into spring. Finally, it was the beginning of his last summer before high school and tenth grade. He had just turned fifteen.

They were all listening to the radio, and the news had just finished with a report about President Eisenhower’s remarks on the war in Korea. Tommy took the opportunity to ask his father one more time, only to be told no yet again, and he had despaired of ever being treated like anything more than a child.

Then, last night, his father had surprised him and said if he wanted, he could go out in his boat without adult supervision in the morning. At first, Tommy had thought he was joking, but his father assured him he was serious.

Of course, there had been a few “ifs” to go along with this bestowal of generosity: He could go if the weather was promising, if he made sure to return before suppertime, and if his mother didn’t need him for chores. That last “if” was almost a deal breaker. Tommy’s mother was famous for making up excuses to keep him under her wing—something the other boys at school often teased him about.

But somehow, he’d managed to get away. And despite not having John and Wendy with him, it had been the best day of his life.

And then he’d seen that big fish.

My Review:
It’s the summer of 1952 and Tommy Oakley is 15, preparing to enter the 10th grade at a big-ish high school. He’s best friends with John Webster who is also 15. They live in Bayside, what sounded like a coastal Virginia (my guess, because it’s never stated) community which has few residents and fewer opportunities. Most of Bayside’s residents are fishermen, and life had been prosperous back when the Mulberry’s ran the fishery, but they closed it down long ago and only their Great House remains. Wendy Harris is also a resident of Bayside, though she’s a year older and already in the high school. Wendy likes Tommy and John likes Tommy and Tommy’s tired of their bickering.

Tommy got a boat for his 13th birthday, but his parents didn’t trust him to captain it until this summer, when he turned 15. He’s out in the boat alone, fishing and sailing, when he sees what appears to be a giant fish in the inlet between abandoned Mulberry Island and the peninsula on which Bayside sits. He knows John and Wendy won’t believe him, but he confesses his vision to them. Wendy wants to explore, to see if there is anything to it. She’s clearly smitten with Tommy, and he’s a bit shy of her advances.

Tommy and John plan a sail and a camp-out to go shrimping, and they see lights in the Great House–and they know it wasn’t the caretaker, old Mr. Hess, because he shows up later. Who’s in the mansion? And, does this have anything to do with the giant fish? John doesn’t want to investigate, because he’s afraid it will lead to trouble and get Tommy hurt. And, there is no one in the world that John cares for more than Tommy. (I’m going to pause here and mention that John is regularly beaten and emotionally abused by his father, and his mother doesn’t speak up about it because she’d likely be beaten in his stead.)

This is a mystery and adventure with just a little bit of romance. Tommy and Wendy and John make a quarrelsome triad in friendship, but there seems to be a connection between Tommy and John that John is beginning to explore. With the elements of danger, and the riskiness of the situations, John is the bold one, taking deeper risks to ensure Tommy’s safety–because he feels like Tommy is the only person in his life who truly cares for him.

I can honestly say this is an engaging, and thoughtful YA LGBTQ read. The bad guys are not immediately apparent and the stakes get ever higher as the action plays out. We have mercenaries, and insane men planning insane plots, and a hurricane blowing in. Tommy and company don’t know who to trust, but Wendy is ever-forceful in asserting what their trio should do–and how to do it. This causes conflict with John, who wants to back out completely, but he won’t leave Tommy to fend for himself. In the end, there are some unlikely heroes and some really spectacular fireworks–which thankfully take out the bad guys’ big plans. I liked the pacing, and the storytelling, and was especially grateful to see how the fathers of Bayside finally do what’s right and ensure John has a loving home and the care he deserves.

The blurb didn’t prepare me for either the slightly historical setting, or the descriptions of physical abuse and overt emotional/verbal abuse John suffers. His connection to Tommy is what eventually saves him. Tommy’s father won’t stand for Mr. Webster’s abuse of his John–or Tommy–when slurs get flung. Beyond this, the adventure and mystery are engaging, as are the glimpses of physical love between Tommy and John.

Interested? You can find THE RIDDLES OF MULBERRY ISLAND on Goodreads, NineStar Press Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 GC to NineStar Press. Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Huston Piner always wanted to be a writer but realized from an early age that learning to read would have to take precedence. A voracious reader, he loves nothing more than a well-told story, a glass of red, and music playing in the background. His writings focus on ordinary gay teenagers and young adults struggling with their orientation in the face of cultural prejudice and the evolving influence of LGBTQA+ rights on society. He and his partner live in a house ruled by three domineering cats in the mid-Atlantic region.

Catch up with Huston on his website Facebook and twitter.

Nearly Ruined by the SECRET AT SKULL HOUSE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M cozy mystery from Josh Lanyon. SECRET AT SKULL HOUSE is the second book in the Secrets and Scrabble series, and I couldn’t wait to read it! Like MURDER AT PIRATE’S COVE, Ellery Page, bumbling bookseller and outsider in a small town is caught is another tough situation when his former lover goes missing and Ellerys’s the prime suspect. I’ve also enjoyed MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT and I BURIED A WITCH if you’re interested in magical realism M/M odd-couple romance from this author.

About the book:
Ellery Page is back–and in hot water again!

Unlike everyone else in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he’s purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.

Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up–especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn’t all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?

Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson’s first–and only–suspect.

My Review:
Screenwriter Ellery Page is finally settling into Pirate’s Cove, and maybe making headway with Police Chief Jack Carson. The scare of the murder that happened in his own bookshop, Crow’s Nest, is perhaps behind him. Maybe. But, now he has a new nemesis in town: his old college lover and renown horror writer, Brandon Abbott. Brandon has purchased the Skull House, a famed pirate domicile with a history of violence and murder. Twenty years ago, a local man was murdered there, and the prime suspect disappeared.

The townsfolk of Pirate’s Cove have been super tight-lipped over that unsolved crime, and Brandon’s appearance has everyone on edge. Brandon’s horror fiction usually pulls true crime and mixes it with the supernatural. Still, those old wounds run deep, and it’s not long before Brandon goes missing. And, Ellery is the number one suspect…again. They had planned to meet that night, and Ellery even drove out to Skull House to investigate–though Chief Carson made a stop there, too, at Ellery’s request.

Ellery’s character keeps getting smeared through the local paper, and bigger news agencies are taking note. Ellery is sure that Brandon was sniffing after that unsolved murder, and when the spotlight falls on Ellery he isn’t happy for the scrutiny. This mystery is filled with characters–from the ‘dear gramps mayor’ trying to silence the investigation, to the Ellery’s bookshop employee–who publicly vows Brandon will sincerely regret buying Skull House. I thoroughly enjoyed Ellery’s sheer mortification when the Skalliwags theater troupe puts on a staging of one of his “serious” plays–and it garners rave reviews as a comedy! Oh, Ellery is the guy who never wins, no matter how hard he tries. Determined to clear his name, Ellery usually ends up in worse trouble. Still, his self-deprecation and hubris is touching. Expect Ellery and Chief Carson to explore options and make waves in this sleepy town. I like how things are progressing regarding Ellery deepening his acquaintance with Chief Carson, even if we do not have any definitive growth in the romance area. Fingers crossed they find love, because Ellery really deserves it after all the crap he’s endured.

I flew through this story, much like the first book in this series, and I recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries, especially those starring LGBTQ characters.

Interested? You can find SECRET AT SKULL HOUSE on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. 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!

Reputations at Risk A ROYAL KISS AND TELL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new royal historical romance from Julia London. A ROYAL KISS & TELL is the second book in the A Royal Wedding series and I was excited to read on in the series. Catch my review for THE PRINCESS PLAN to get a sense for that engaging story. A ROYAL KISS & TELL surely puts its characters into tough situations. Prince Leopold’s reputation is ruined trying to save sexual slaves from England’s finest lords–and Caroline’s both the instigator and the fixer for Leo’s cause.

About the book:
Every prince has his secrets. And she’s determined to unravel his…
Every dashing young man in London’s ton is vying for Lady Caroline Hawke’s hand—except one. Handsome, delectable roué Prince Leopold of Alucia can’t quite remember who Caroline is, and the insult is not to be tolerated. So, Caroline does what any clever, resourceful lady of means would do to make sure a prince remembers her: sees that amusingly risqué morsels about Leo’s reputation are printed in a ladies’ gossip gazette…all the while secretly setting her cap for the rakish royal.

Someone has been painting Leo as a blackguard, but who? Socially, it could ruin him. More important, it jeopardizes his investigation into a contemptible scheme that reaches the highest levels of government in London. Now, Leo needs Lady Caroline’s help to regain access to society. But this charming prince is about to discover that enlisting the deceptively sweet and sexy Lady Caroline might just cost him his heart, his soul and both their reputations…

My Review:
This is the second book in a historical romance series, and can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Lady Caroline Hawke is in Alucia enjoying the celebrations of her dearest friend Eliza Tricklebank marrying her love, Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia. Caroline is a celebrated English lady, invited to the poshest of salons and all the right balls. She lives with her brother and guardian, Beckett, who is a duke. Caroline takes great offense to the notion that Prince Seb’s younger brother Prince Leopold does not remember making their acquaintance–and she makes an official nuisance of herself in the courts of Alucia acting far too familiar and breaking all the rules of protocol. Leo, if he did find her attractive, is thoroughly turned off by her boorish breaks in decorum.

Leo, himself, is a man of little accomplishment. He’s spent years in England attending Cambridge and drinking his days away. As the “spare,” his father doesn’t bother educating in matters of state, he’s led an indulgent life. There are some intigues of the Alucian court–especially with concerns over its bordering nation Wesloria and the possibility for conflict–but Leo has had very little interest in any of this–and even less had been shared with him regarding the politics of the situation. Still, he’s inexplicably approached by an Alucian insurgent who tells him that Weslorian girls are being sold into sexual slavery in London to gain favors for those who seek to stage a coup de etat against Leo’s father, King Karl and unite Alucia and Wesloria under Karl’s younger half-brother’s rule. King Karl, seeking to unite factions in his favor, has just announced that Leo is betrothed to the daughter of a wealthy Weslorian industrialist–who has been implicated by his informant to be a cog in the sexual slave network. Leo has the summer to return to London, find five missing Weslorian slave girls, and potential stop his marriage to a girl who makes no secret of preferring the captain of her guard.

Leo and Caroline return to London, and their paths continue to intersect, not the least because Leo and Beckett have become fast friends. Leo steps in when Caroline is deeply ill, assisting Beckett get a doctor and bringing tokens to cheer brother and sister. Part of his attentiveness stems from the fact that the contact his informant gave is a maid in Beckett’s London home. And, when Caroline thinks she sees Leo messing about with their maid, well, she does let the rumor out to her friend, Hollis, Eliza’s sister and the editor of Honeycutt’s Gazette for Fashionable Ladies–a gossip rag that starts spreading Leo’s less-than-genteel exploits in the homes of esteemed Lords–who have themselves a Weslorian slave Leo hopes to return home.

Everyone in London thinks Prince Leo a depraved and degenerate man, helped along by all the gossip of Caroline’s friends, and his social status dries on the vine. Invitations are rescinded and he has no way of finding the remaining girls. Caroline is desolate because her heart had definitely turned toward the prince since his help with her sickness. She regrets her gossiping, and can’t understand why Leo would cavort with maids and prostitutes when he has plenty of access to quality women. When agents of the Crown turn up on Caroline’s door, she finally demands that Leo–who has indeed become a friend in these times–tell her the truth of his shenanigans. And, that turns the tide–getting Caroline in board with the rescue effort. The romance, which had been simmering begins a slow boil. It’s a long time before Caroline and Prince Leo admit their love, and even longer before they do more than kiss.

The story really revolves around the intrigue of English, Alucian and Weslorian courts. The romance is slow to develop and adversarial from the outset. Both Leo and Caroline have a lot of soul-searching to complete to turn them from vapid caricatures of the upper echelons into richer, complex characters. They do this work, first Leo and then Caroline, and the compassionate and passionate people they become are people I enjoyed reading about. If you enjoy historical romances, and royalty romances, this might be a book for your list.

Interested? You can find A ROYAL KISS & TELL on Goodreads, Harlequin Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

And don’t forget to check out THE PRINCESS PLAN on Goodreads, Harlequin Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo.

About the Author:
Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than two dozen romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming.

Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.

Catch up with Julia on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Positively Scandalous THE PRINCESS PLAN–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a royal historical romance from Julia London. THE PRINCESS PLAN is the first book in the A Royal Wedding series and was a fun and entertaining romp.

About the book:
Princes have pomp and glory—not crushes on commoners.
Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.

My Review:
At age 28, Eliza Tricklebank is the eldest and spinster daughter of an honorable justice of the Queen’s Bench in Her Majesty’s Service in the year of our Lord 1845. Her father is a doting man, and rather dependent on Eliza to read his missives to him as he’s nearly blind. Eliza’s younger sister Hollis is widowed, and publishes her late husband’s broadsheet rechristened from a political magazine into Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies, which is an upscale gossip rag. Connections to some higher society folk brings plenty of tidbits for the paper, but none so much as Eliza manages to stumble into.

While at a masquerade ball in honor of Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia, Eliza encounters his highness in a service corridor. She is well on her way to drunk on rum punch–her first time ever tasting it–and offers the parched man beside her a taste of her drink. He thinks she’s offering up more than that–and she’s slightly offended, but not so much. He’s just a tall, foreign masked man in the moment and it’s not until later that she’s stepped on by Sebastian making his getaway that she realizes who’d attempted to seduce her in that hall.

Her scandalous accounting to Hollis is nothing compared to the big news the next morning: the personal secretary of the prince was MURDERED that night! Sebastian is frustrated that the English law enforcement can’t help him find the killer, and he thinks (with good reason) he’s a huge target for assassins from a neighboring country working in London. Sebastian, who is in London to establish trade treaties and find an advantageous English wife, remembers the odd and brash woman who introduced her own self at the ball the night of the murder. Clues in Honeycutt’s Gazette point him to Judge Tricklebank to whom he immediately goes in search of answers. There he finds Eliza, who will not stand for his rude and upsetting behavior–which he’s only more incensed about. Sebastian is not a man who hears “no” very often, and his ire at being upbraided on his manners soon tempers into an inexplicable attraction for Eliza. Her quick wit, fearlessness, and hidden beauty are enough to tempt him, but when she goes beyond all reason and expectation to help Sebastian discover the killer, and the traitors in his midst, he’s in a full-out swoon.

Only, Sebastian, for all his power, can’t marry any woman he fancies; he must marry a titled lady, something Eliza lacks. That said, he’s not a lazy man, and his ability to see a plan to its end might just catch the woman of his dreams–a princess fit to lead beside him.

This is a fun romp with some dangerous twists and scandalous curves. Eliza isn’t a fair maiden, and she’s not looking for a rescue. Sebastian is a man in need of help, and he’s not going to get it by throwing his weight around. London is not his domain, and for all his power he’s utterly helpless in his pursuit of justice. The recurrent theme of not underestimating the fairer sex really drives this home as Eliza continually challenges Sebastian and rises above his expectations. She’s a fun character, with a low filter and a BS meter set a zero. I loved the banter and the flirtations, which build from the first meeting. The vignettes from the Gazette serve as interludes of humor and plot motion, filling in gaps in a quick and snappy way–continually poking fun at the sexist and classist notions of the era. Though set in 1850s London, the sensibility is clearly American Individualist as Eliza flouts conventions of society time and again, in ways that would be 100% boorish in another character. She’s educated and intelligent and unwilling to give up her independence, which is a hindrance to the period romance.

This isn’t a chaste story, but it’s not super steamy. Expect a slow burn and a ton of sass. Eliza may not want to be a married woman, but she doesn’t mind making use of Sebastian’s athletic body and sexual frustration. In their quest for truth, Eliza eventually accepts that she’s falling hard for Sebastian, and she’ll be sad to see him marry a pretty, vapid heiress with the right social connections.

Good thing that’s not how it ends! I really enjoyed it, and look forward to the sequel coming out later this month.

Interested? You can find THE PRINCESS PLAN on Goodreads, Harlequin Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than two dozen romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming.

Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.

Catch up with Julia on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Terrifying Visions: THIRD EYE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a M/M realistic surpernatural thriller with a dash of romance from mega-writer Rick R. Reed. THIRD EYE features a single dad whose unexpected head injury brings unwanted insight into grisy crimes in his Pennsylvania small-town. I have read and reviewed a bunch of Rick R. Reed titles for Joyfully Jay, so I jumped at the chance to share a review here.

Scroll down to catch my review and enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway below!
About the book:
Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and a lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn’t sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls’ parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the “third eye.”

Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between them. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

How about a little taste?

She was only thirteen. It wasn’t fair she now lay, bound, waiting for death. Before, there had been struggling: clawing and fighting, scratching their faces, pulling at their hair, batting at whatever part she could reach. Her breath had come in choking spasms, adrenaline pumping, burning, anteing up the hysteria so much she thought her air would be blocked. Then had come the dread that made her lose most of her fight, when her terror-addled brain had begun to accept her fate was to die here, in this tiny, hot room, with the only witness to her demise the sparkling eyes of her killers and the maddening, crooked whirl of a ceiling fan long past its prime and wobbling, doing nothing more than blowing the overheated, moist air around the room. The dread had risen up, a nausea twisting her gut and making her afraid she would vomit. And then had come the numbness, a dull tingling throughout her body that precluded movement, stripping her of coherent thought.

They stood above her. Faces she had trusted, faces she had seen before, around her neighborhood. The man she and her friends had had a crush on. He used to drive by her little house on Ohio Street in his old red Mustang, looking the picture of youth, confidence, masculinity. His hair was dark, cut bristle-brush short, and his face always clean-shaven. Thin lips bordered rows of perfect white teeth, and when he had smiled at her, only hours ago, she had lit up. A tingling had started in her toes and had worked its way up until the color rose to her cheeks. At her young age, the interest of a man in his twenties was inconceivable, although it had been something she had hoped for since the first day she had seen him, back at the onset of summer, when the sun had turned white-hot, burning up the grass and making illusory waves rise from the hot, cracked sidewalks.

He had pulled to the curb and sat there, car idling. She sat in the front yard, sorting through Barbie clothes: ball gowns and swimming suits, miniskirts and stretch pants. He didn’t say anything, not right away. She had looked at him once, then looked away, certain his interest could never be in her. Suddenly she felt ridiculous with her metal trunk, her Barbie dolls, and all the outfits she had once been so proud to collect. Swiftly, she returned the clothes to their case and slammed it shut.

She leaned back, resting on her palms, and lifted her face to the sun. Its heat beat down relentlessly, making the skin on her face feel tight.

She felt his eyes on her still. She opened her own eyes a crack and regarded him peripherally. He really was looking at her! The adorable little smile that caused a dimple to rise in his right cheek deepened in the sun’s play of shadow and light. She leaned back more, left hand reaching out to surreptitiously move the Barbie trunk farther away. In this posture, here on the withered and brown grass, she felt that her breasts, little more than two tiny bumps an unkind boy at school had once referred to as her anthills, looked larger. She could be eighteen, couldn’t she? With the right makeup and her hair pulled up….

But now her long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, clipped with a pink plastic barrette. She wore a pair of cutoff shorts and an oversized South Park T-shirt belonging to her older brother. He would have killed her had he known she was wearing it. But he was away at the Y’s summer camp and would never know the difference.

The idling of the car was like an animal purring.

And then the sun disappeared, and she sat in darkness. Beneath her closed lids, she sensed someone standing over her.

Why hadn’t she heard the slam of the car door? Her eyelids fluttered, but she did not open them. It would be just like her mother to come outside now and stand above her, hands on hips, and ask her what she thought she was doing.

“Lucy?”

Finally, she opened her eyes and blinked at the brightness of the August day. He was smiling. So unlike the other guys in Fawcettville, he was dressed in pressed black slacks and a collarless white shirt, buttoned to his neck.

“How did you know my name?”

“Oh, I make it my business to know the names of all the pretty young ladies around here.”

Lucy felt the heat rise to her face once more. She grinned and could not think of a single word to say.

“Playing Barbie?”

She shoved the case farther away, until it was completely out of her grasp. The case lay in the white heat, glinting, looking, she hoped, as if it had nothing to do with her.

“What? Oh…no, no. These are my little sister’s. She always makes such a mess of things, and I was just organizing for her.”

“What a good sister.”

“Yeah, well…”

The two said nothing for a while, and Lucy began to grow uncomfortable under his gaze. She shifted her long, tanned legs in front of her, crossing them at the ankle.

“I was driving by and saw you sitting there, and I had to tell you”—he hunkered down beside her—“what a lovely sight you are. It made me stop just to have a better look.”

She laughed and thought she sounded way too much like the thirteen-year-old she was. “Thank you,” she whispered, wondering where her voice had gone.

“No, thank you, for being here, for making the heat of this day a little more pleasant.”

Oh, stop! she wanted to cry out but whispered again, “Thank you.”

He leaned closer, enough for her to feel his breath near her ear. In spite of the day’s heat, his nearness caused gooseflesh to rise on her arms, her spine to tingle.

“Listen.” He glanced around the empty street with eyes like none she had ever seen: green, ringed with thick black lashes. And in his gaze was a conspiracy that included only the two of them. “My car has air-conditioning. I know this is out of the blue and all, but I wondered if you’d like to go for a ride with me.”

Lucy glanced back at her house. She wished suddenly she lived in a bigger house, in a better neighborhood. Here on this modest residential street close to the river, her small white clapboard house was surrounded by other houses very much like it, some of them covered in rusting aluminum siding. She pictured her mother inside, on a vinyl-covered kitchen chair, watching All My Children on a thirteen-inch portable TV on the Formica-topped kitchen table. Her mother, she knew, would never approve of what was transpiring here, right in her front yard.

He stood suddenly. “Okay, okay. I get the message.”

“Wait.” She sat up straighter. A pickup rumbled by and left in its wake a smell of exhaust and a rush of hot air.

He turned. “What? Need to get your mom’s permission?”

“Of course not!” Her voice came out higher than she would have liked, the whiny protest of a child. She stood. “I’d like to come with you. But I can’t stay out too long.” She was about to say “My mom will be worried” but realized how immature that would sound. “I’ve got some people I have to meet in a little while.”

He smiled. And the smile erased any nervousness she had about going with him. After all, she had seen him around the neighborhood dozens of times. He wasn’t exactly a stranger, not really.

“That’s fine, Lucy. I’ll have you back within an hour. I promise. I certainly wouldn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with you.” He winked, and she followed him to the waiting car.

My Review:
Cayce D’Amico is a mid-20s out gay man in a Fawcettville, Pennsylvania raising his son Luke. It’s a tiny town deteriorating in the wake of most of the industry drying up. In this community there aren’t any real dangers except kids falling into the swift moving Ohio River and drowning. One afternoon, while Cayce is making dinner, Luke wanders out of the yard. In fear of a coming storm, Cayce combs the neighborhood looking for the boy. And, in the woods near the edge of the street, Cayce is hit in the head by a branch when a sudden bolt of lightning strikes.

About the same time, two young and beautiful people are convincing 13 y/o Lucy to step off her front lawn into their Mustang in the same neighborhood. Lucy doesn’t make it home.

Waking in the hospital, Cayce is mystified by the insights he gets off the people in direct contact with him. And, when he is handed a newspaper that features his own accident also describes mission Lucy. The dread builds within as Cayce reads the story and “sees” poor Lucy in her last moments with her killers. He’s terrified and horrified when the visions don’t quit. Especially when a second Fawcettville girl goes missing.

This is a realistic thriller with the paranormal angle of Cayce’s newly-developed third sight. He clings to local reporter Dave Newton. Dave is an older man who’s faced his own demons and mostly has his head on right. The story point of view flips between many characters as we learn the grisly details even through the eyes of one of the killers. Cayce’s attempts to get rid of his visions lead his to confide in local law enforcement, Dave Newton and the victim’s families. For all his earnestness, he’s not taken seriously and he decides to keep his mouth shut. Until Lucy’s desperate mother pleads for a break in their case.

Cayce’s assistance shines a spotlight on his abilities and puts this the killers on his trail.

It’s an interesting and timely thriller, with good pacing and fully fleshed-out characters. We see the dark and seedy interior of Fawcettville families on the edge. We see the not-so-silent prejudice of Cayce’s own mother–who doesn’t think he’s a good father to Luke. Cayce, for his part, is a devoted dad and a lonely man. He doesn’t have a lot of folks in his corner, but he’s going to turn over Heaven and Earth when Luke becomes a target. Luckily, Dave Newton is right there by his side. I was turning the pages as fast as I could, so I would finish this story before bedtime. I HAD to finish this before bed because I couldn’t bear to try and sleep while the dark horror of the prose was rattling around in my brain. There was a tiny niggle for me regarding the timeline, where I thought there was some disconnect. Other than that, I was riveted. There is a dash of romance–attraction that’s fueled by the intense moments of shared terror. Dave accepts Cayce’s new gift as it is, and tries to be a helper to him in his hours of need.

There are real gruesome bits, and it’s not all about the murders and dead bodies. Cayce does save the day for some folks, and the epilogue makes it clear that there is a happily ever after for Cayce and Dave. As a person who doesn’t deal well with horror/thriller well, I am glad to say I slept well after the read.

Interested? You can find THIRD EYE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Catch up with Rick on his website, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

The Intrigue Commences I BURIED A WITCH–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M paranormal romance from Josh Lanyon. I BURIED A WITCH is the second book in her Bedknobs and Broomsticks series, and follows the travails of Cosmo Saville, a non-practicing witch who needs his magic to save himself from certain death…but doing so risks his new marriage to a magic-hating human. For the meet-cute love story, you’ll want to read MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT, first.

About the book:
Something old, something new, something borrowed…something blacker than the darkest night.

Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies—and some very black magic—are about to bring his fairytale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spellcasters—and the only person Cosmo can turn to—the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him—isn’t taking his phone calls.

The only magic Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch—a witch with something alarmingly like magical powers—is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him. John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.

Till Death do them Part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Commissioner Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy…

Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes true love’s flame?

I Buried a Witch is the second book in the smart and sexy Bedknobs and Broomsticks romantic gay mystery trilogy. If you like endearing characters, spell-binding conflict, and spooky, good fun, then you’ll love Josh Lanyon’s tale of a blue knight and his slightly wicked witch.

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 recently discovered a grisly murder of a competitor in his field. Cosmo was under suspicion, but his relationship with the San Francisco police commissioner–John Galbraith who is now his newlywed husband–halted the inquisition. Plus, the mad wife of the deceased tried to kill Cosmo at his wedding. So, she got locked up.

And Cosmo’s rather sure she’s innocent…of murdering her husband, in any case.

Trying to get John and his colleagues to see his points, however, are driving a wedge between Cosmo and John. And, John’s already cooling off when he learns that Cosmo is a bona fide witch. Did he ensorcel John? Because John’s very much against witchcraft in all it’s forms. His half-sister Jinx “pretends” to be into the craft, and John indulges her “fancy” but the more Cosmo digs into that relationship, it seems that a witch acquaintance of Jinx’s might have information about the uncanny disappearances of several witches in the Bay area.

Unwilling to let go of his suspicions, Cosmo digs deeper into his own magical heritage. He’s been warned against marrying a mortal, so he should know better than to expect one to stick around when the magic hits the fire, but Cosmo really loves John and is deeply heartbroken when John takes some steps back. Is Cosmo’s investigation bringing the killer closer sealing his own fate, or setting fire to the only good relationship he’s ever had?

I loved the story telling here, and how John’s police instincts help him understand Cosmo’s craft abilities. The intertwining of the families, and friends, that is only just beginning for this new couple is fraught with extra complications of historical witch hunters and a murderer who is clearly still at work. I really liked the way Cosmo sticks to his guns regarding who he truly is, and how John takes the necessary time to reconcile himself to the situation. There are a few scenes of martial bliss to balance the strife that awaits. In the end, I’m pretty sure John will fall even harder for Cosmo, because who couldn’t, really.

The big conflict is coming, now that we know who’s on the hunt for witches. And Cosmo’s family has been shattered just enough to create extra havoc. With John and Jinx in the mix, plus some of Cosmo’s dearest witch friends gone missing the tension is high. I’m really looking forward to the final installment.

Interested? You can find MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple Books. 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!

Seeing Beyond the SHADOWS AND DREAMS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently re-released contemporary F/F paranormal mystery/romance from Alexis Hall. SHADOWS & DREAMS is the second book in the Kate Kane Paranormal Investigator series, and I am a fan! You should really read IRON & VELVET before this book, otherwise you will struggle to catch up with the plot.

About the book:
I like my women like I like my whiskey: liable to kill me.

The two parts of being a paranormal private investigator I could really do without are being forced to eat bananas by an animated statue with a potassium fixation, and being put on trial for murder by a self-appointed council of vampire oligarchs.

To be fair, I did kind of do it (the murder, not the bananas). But I was kind of saving my girlfriend, who is kind of one of them.

On top of this, I’ve also wound up with a primordial queen of the damned trying to strangle me in my dreams. And the conspiracy of undead wizards who tried to sacrifice me fifteen years ago has decided that now is the best possible time to give it another go.

Throw in the woman who left me for a tech start-up, the old girlfriend who I might sort of owe eternal mystical fealty to and a werewolf “it girl” who can’t decide if she wants to eat me in the good way or the bad way, and I’m beginning to think life would be easier if I made better choices. Then again, it’d be a whole lot less fun.

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 recently begun a relationship with Julian St. Germain, a M-Fing vampire Prince. When living, Julian was a pudding-eating lesbian nun on a vatican-sanctioned mission to murder vampires.

Kate saved Julian in the previous story, but it came at the expense of another vampire prince, and now the vampire council is deciding if Kate should be executed for this crime. It was unavoidable, and the vampire knew this going in–gave Kate the go-ahead in the moment, yet it’s her word against…well, a lot of vamps want her dead because this might weaken Julian.

Also, Kate’s ex-boyfriend Patrick, a simpering vamp, is afraid Kate will somehow-in-someway interfere with his new relationship with a girl who is, unfortunately, being targeted by the same cadre of power seekers that nearly killed Kate years before. So, saving the girl (and the world!) means maybe interfering with Patrick, a bit. And, he’s always good for a self-conscious laugh.

In the meantime, Kate’s dreams are being overrun by an undead entity, and packs of feral vamps seem to be swarming London. The dream-vamp is in charge of these newbie vamps, or is she? Kate needs the help of her ex-girlfriend, the Witch Queen of London, to make sense of it all–and she’s going to reach out to another ex to help execute a big mission…to stop her own execution.

Sound complicated? It is. Kate runs in strange circles, powered by bananas and whiskey, and she makes more messes than she cleans up. She has debts to the biggest power brokers in the paranormal world, and well, she’s going to have to pay up soon. Maybe with her life.

There’s a dash of sexytimes here and there, but these are more bittersweet as Julian maintains distance in order to make Kate less of a target for the vampire council. The addition of Kate’s pseudo-golem, Elise, is an excellent foil to Kate’s salty narration. I’m eager to read on and figure out who’s really pulling out all the stops to become the most powerful paranormal personage in all of the world… Lots of danger, suspense and intrigue as we delve ever-deeper into London’s secret paranormal societies.

Interested? You can find SHADOWS & DREAMS on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. 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!

Surviving the WINTER MASQUERADE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a gay magical realism story by Kevin Klehr. WINTER MASQUERADE features a man waking up in a fantasy world and the only way home is to acknowledge his life is endangered by his partner.

About the book:
Ferris wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted cruise ship sailing on a chocolate sea. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.

The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea with scones and jam.

Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.

With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.

My Review:
This fantasy/magical realism story was filled with twists and turns–and breaks with reality. Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland for adults.

Ferris awakes on the Sea Queen, an ocean liner sailing a chocolate river. He’s unsure how he got there, and wonders what’s happened to his boyfriend, Harris. He seeks help from the first people he finds, a kindly musical trio made up of Olive, Cole and Scallywag–a child. They urge him to seek help from the Alchemist, but the Alchemist has been kidnapped to another dimension. So, Ferris’ brought to The Detective who’s aided by a talking, flying minihorse called Janus, and the Alchemist’s wife and mistress to help find Ferris’ way home.

They urge him to describe his home to see if he can retrace his journey. Each time Ferris tries to talk about Harris he is transported to another dimension where sweet Olive is trying to murder everyone aboard ship–notably Ferris. The Alchemist stands ready to defend Ferris, but Ferris must come to terms with the evil in his life before he can find his way home.

Through several iterations, Ferris begins to see the pattern–discussing Harris causes him terror, injury and pain. The persons in his Sea Queen journey all represent people in Ferris’ real life, friends and lovers he’s lost due to the abusive relationship he’s trapped in with Harris. Breaking through his self-isolating walls, through the fantasy comfort of the Sea Queen comrades, gives Ferris the impetus and strength to reach for the help he needs to escape–both the Sea Queen and his abuser.

It’s an imaginative way to relate the terror of domestic violence without being overt. Ferris is a good man, and he’s ashamed of the fearful and dire situation he’s allowed himself to fall prey to. His abuser has appropriately groomed Ferris, to remove those supports that would hinder his ability to control Ferris. The Winter Masquerade is a metaphor for removing the masks that hide our secret selves–and Ferris finally lays down his mask to his dear, but estranged, friends. It was then that Ferris began to remake himself into an independent man, one he could believe worthy of love.

It’s at times comical and confusing, in the way that Alice in Wonderland is both comical and confusing. It is only once Ferris returns to his real life roots that we begin to see and understand his real life problems. It takes time, but the resolution mentions Ferris finding the love of his life much later–when his heart’s finally healed and ready to accept that love.

Interested? You can find WINTER MASQUERADE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Kevin is the author of a number of books including the Actors and Angels series and the Nate and Cameron Collection.

The Actors and Angels series are three comedies about theatre in the Afterlife, where two friends explore their love for each other through several lifetimes with the help of a gay angel. The third in the series scored a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel. The Nate and Cameron collection are two novellas that delve into a relationship between a dreamer and a realist, where the latter is coming to terms with loving second best. The two stories, Nate and the New Yorker and Nate’s Last Tango, are also available in one paperback edition.

His dystopian novel, Social Media Central, explores a future where everyone is addicted to their screens and where murder is just a keystroke away.

And his new novella, Winter Masquerade, whimsically explains why Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.

Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own “Emerald City,” Sydney.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Surviving a MURDER AT PIRATE’S COVE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M cozy mystery from Josh Lanyon. MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT is the first book in the Secrets and Scrabble series, and I jumped in with both feet, even if it’s not a romance… I’ve also enjoyed MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT by Lanyon, which is a M/M paranormal romance, and will be posting about the sequel soon.

About the book:
Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!

Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller–and head of the unwelcoming-committee–Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.

Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.

My Review:
Screenwriter Ellery Page has inherited his great-greataunt’s mystery bookshop, the Crow’s Nest, and crumbling estate in idyllic Pirate’s Cove–where everything is a pun on the historical founders of the town. It’s a big change from NYC, where he was floundering after his boyfriend left–taking their mutual friends with him. What seems to be a great chance at a fresh start is really just a step away from misfortune, as the bookshop had hardly any customers, and his home, Captain’s Seat, which was maybe built form the timbers of an old pirate vessel, is very aptly called a death trap.

Ellery is making the best of it, and he’s frustrated by the persistence of a motivated buyer for the bookshop, Trevor Maples. Trevor has been land-grabbing all he could in Pirate’s Cove, hoping increased tourism might help him turn a profit. He’s also up for mayor, and his bullish ways haven’t made Trevor many friends in town. Ellery isn’t willing to kowtow to a bully, but he’s suspect number one when Trevor Maples ends up dead on the floor of the Crow’s Nest the very evening after Ellery was overheard to vehemently promise to never sell. And it looks like the murder weapon was the now-missing antique cutlass that hung over the shop’s door.

An outsider in the town, Ellery’s sure Police Chief Carson will make 1 + 1 = Ellery’s arrest, adn the local paper is surely hounding both Ellery and Carson over the fact that Ellery isn’t immediately taken into custody. Fact is, the chief has seen Ellery having a meal in a pub minutes before the body was found…by Ellery. And as the evidence keeps getting found…by Ellery…it seems ever more likely that Ellery is being set up as a patsy. Ellery’s unwilling to get railroaded, however, and starts investigating a bit on his own. Which only brings him more confrontation. Especially when the second murder happens.

This is a really intriguing cozy mystery, with just a HINT of a budding romance. Ellery and Chief Carson are developing quite a nice rapport, even if Ellery’s not sure the lawman bats for his team. Well, until more than halfway in. Carson is a good investigator, and he’s frustrated that Ellery keeps taking daring chances to help prove his own innocence, choices that put Ellery in harm’s way more than once. The town and townspeople are as fun and quirky as one might hope, staging their Pirate Days festival that brings few visitors, but lots of gags for the locals.

The end is satisfying, with the red herrings and dead ends all knotted up tightly. It’s the beginning of a series, which makes me nervous for more death in this quaint hamlet! But, it also seems to promise a little bit of romance for Ellery, who’s finally got his life on track. I adored Ellery and his deadpan narration, with his constant predicaments and hope for just keeping it all together. I’m all in for more of this, hoping we get some Scrabble to go with our secrets.

Interested? You can find MURDER AT PIRATE’S COVE on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. 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!

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!