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!

Discovering AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION–A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Sifting Through the DARKNESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently published M/M contemporary police romance from Kate Sherwood. DARKNESS is the third book in her Common Law series, and was a fab follow up to LONG SHADOWS and EMBERS. This small-town epic is tense and filled with intrigue between local law enforcement, federal agents, friends, neighbors and criminals.

About the book:
A murdered prostitute. An obvious suspect. Clear evidence. For once, Jericho Crewe has a straightforward crime to investigate, and Wade Granger isn’t involved.

It all seems so simple, but Jericho’s instincts won’t let him rest. As he investigates, he finds troubling suggestions that the murder is a part of something larger and more sinister. But working within the boundaries of the law may keep him from finding the truth. If Jericho doesn’t break the rules, an innocent man may rot in jail while a killer remains free to strike again.

Inevitably, it all comes back to Wade. Because who else knows as much about breaking rules? And who else knows Jericho the way Wade does—not wisely, but far, far too well?

My Review:
This is the third book in a series and best enjoyed when read in order.

Jericho Crewe is still working as Undersheriff in his small border hometown of Mosely, Montana. It’s only been a few months since his return and everything’s been mostly a mess. His father’s murder is still unsolved, though Jericho isn’t losing too much sleep over taht fact. He held no love for his abusive, criminal, estranged father. Learning he has two half-siblings has been a trip, and tangling with his shady step-mother and even shadier ex-boyfriend, Wade Granger, has been an exercise in minefield transit.

This time, however, Jericho’s unwilling to hide his relationship with Wade from those who matter–and he’s tired of worrying that the Feds who have a constant tap on Wade’s phone lines will out him. Besides, his boss knows all about Jericho and Wade’s complicated history.

The police work in this book doesn’t involve Wade or smuggling. A local prostitute has been murdered, and all the evidence–a whole lot of it in fact–seems to point toward a local brain-damaged man. Will Archer went to high school with Jericho and Wade. He was injured in a car wreck and has been largely non-verbal since. How this gentle man could be responsible for the violence at the crime scene Jericho can’t fathom. And, the investigation leads to an outsider to town, a man who seems particularly interested in the case, and peculiarly aware of the details not released.

I really liked how Jericho worked through the angles of this case, and how he kept looking for the truth, even though it was super hard to find. It was also an interesting look at small town justice, and how dedicated some law enforcement officers are to doing their job right–people beyond Jericho, btw. It always strikes me that Jericho has such a sense of right v. wrong, and yet is startlingly in love with Wade Granger, the (alleged) definition of a career criminal. This book really does draw their romance into the open, and causes issues for Jericho and his job–though he’s getting worn out as an undersheriff and is open to exploring his career opportunities yet again.

I’m anxious to pick up the fourth book in this series and see how Jericho reconciles his open love for Wade, and his life in Mosely.

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

About the Author:
Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

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