Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Knew Him by Erastes

"It's not just his body, although I sound like
 the worst of hedonists, but he can capture
 stillness whilst radiating more energy
than most men can when running.
Don't ask me to explain it. He glows."
Harry George Alexander Bircham: Not necessarily an infamous name in the annals of gay fictional characters…yet. But readers of Erastes’ newest historical novel should prepare themselves for many pages of suspenseful intrigue as the miscreant Bircham, a man of Wildean excesses and humours, will do anything it takes to bend Fate to his will. And that sinister will is to keep the affections and attentions of another young English lad. If accidents, if murder, are necessary, then Bircham is just the villain. Or anti-hero, as he is quite the early twentieth century charmer.
It all begins with Harry, an oh-so-British young man thoroughly infatuated with his long-time roommate and sexual partner Charles as they plan a summer trip to Paris. Unfortunately, Charles is summoned home by his widowed mother and Harry accompanies him. Once at the country home, an announcement serves as the catalyst that unleashes our charming, lethal villain. And between tea, tennis, dinner and drinks, a Shakespearean-style tale unfolds.

I Knew Him by Erastes is a cleverly written historical thriller with fabulous between-wars British atmosphere. The thriller part comes from a sharp, quick-witted narrative and cold intent instead of physical violence that serves to magnify the shocking conclusion. Characters rule in this tale, but none more than Erastes' narrator Harry whose ingenious mind and allure enfold the reader into a plot that builds gradually but relentlessly. I Knew Him is a strangely fun read. Erastes' writing skills are at full force as is evident by the tight plot execution and her creation of Harry's character. Highly recommended.
"It annoyed me that screen villains had to be unattractive, and that only the hero was allowed to be handsome."


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4) by Kristan Higgins

Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé's wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero.

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…
Emmaline, Manningsport's only female cop, needs a date to her ex-fiancé's wedding because she is still hurt by the way he dumped her. Jack Holland needs to get out of town and agrees to go to the wedding with Em because after having saved three out of four teenagers from an accident he is traumatized. Additionally as a result of all the publicity, his ex-wife is back in town hoping for a reconciliation.

I liked the couple in this romance. Em is a cop and a bit of a tomboy and Jack is a gorgeous man, but not superficial or vain about his looks, on the contrary, he's unaffected and sweet. Both characters were hurt in past relationships by selfish people and still bare deep scars. They work through those past conflicts as their own romance evolves.

A developing relationship between Jack and Em is interrupted by two over-long sections, the first covers Em's relationship with her parents and ex-boyfriend, and the second gives details about Jack's engagement, marriage and divorce from his ex-wife. Sandwiched between those two is the wedding section where Jack and Em get to know each other and a real attraction is born. Additionally, Higgins works her magic with funny, outrageous scenes, some riddled with lies, great dialog, and some hot sex thrown in for good measure. It is unfortunate that those overlong sections detailing background stories take away some of the momentum driving the romance forward in the wedding scenes, and that those three distinct sections give this romance a bit of a disjointed feel.

As always when reading a Higgins romance secondary characters impact the story, some of them popular characters already featured in this series. This time, however, a few of the new characters introduced are memorable for their actions: Em's ex-boyfriend for his struggle with obesity and overcompensation as a result of losing the weight, Em's parents' inadequacies and struggles to understand her, and her sister's sweetness and understanding.

Although the romance is interrupted, overall In Your Dreams is a very good romance read with a likable couple, some interesting secondary characters, and a few of those thoroughly embarrassing and/or funny moments we expect from Higgins. I particularly like Em and Jack. Em as an independent woman who doesn't need rescuing, and Jack as a caring, sweet man who takes his time, but in the end is just looking for true happiness.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Blue Heron #4
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin/HQN/ September 30, 2014
Source: eARC Little Bird Publicity
Grade: B-

Series:
The Best Man, #1
The Perfect Match, #2
Waiting on You, #3
In Your Dreams, #4

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristan Higgins is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been translated into 21 languages and received numerous starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and Romantic Times. Her books have been listed as Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, National Public Radio, Library Journal and Amazon.

Kristan lives with her heroic and tolerant firefighter husband and two snarky and entertaining teenagers in her hometown in Connecticut. For more information about her books visit Kristan Higgins here.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Frozen by Meljean Brook


I've felt the onslaught of arousal, the sudden tightening of my body, that delicious shudder when a man's tongue penetrates my lips and takes possession of my mouth.
I've never been kissed as if he needed it. As if he'd die without it. 
Frozen is a stand-alone paranormal romance novella initially developed by Meljean Brook as a free on-line read. [This story includes a premise that some readers might find problematic or triggering]

The setting is contemporary with both male and female protagonists initially meeting through their jobs as civil engineers working on the same project for different construction companies. Deep attraction leads to an all-consuming kiss, but afterwards Erik Gulbrandr walks away with an apology. For a year and a half as they work together, Olivia Martin believes that Erik's cold regard signals disinterest and tries to forget that for a moment she felt that Erik was "the one." But when Olivia is asked to stop at Erik's isolated home to deliver paperwork, they find themselves snowbound during the winter solstice and everything changes. Olivia discovers that Erik is living under a terrible curse that includes her and in the end may destroy them both.

As a paranormal romance Frozen is filled with heavy sexual tension and secret longing. It offers danger and violence to the protagonists from outside sources, triggering those protective responses we have come to expect from alpha males. However, although Erik is icy-cool and sexy, he is not the typical alpha male who allows his "other" side to take control without a fight, and Olivia is depicted as a smart woman. The romance is a different story altogether. For most of the story Olivia is guided by that first moment of rejection just as Erik is tormented by the curse's compulsion and can't see past it to Olivia's real feelings. They don't communicate and as a result misunderstandings cause unnecessary pain for them both.

Brook utilizes a spattering of Norse mythology -- descendants of Odin's sons, Fenrir the Wolf and the Ironwood Witch -- to create a cursed family with the oldest son inheriting the curse and carrying it down the line, skipping some generations, but never going away until Ragnarok. Exposition is over utilized to establish world-building in some sections, i.e., Olivia's over extended thought process after alone-time research and conversations with Erik. However, Olivia's first point of view narrative works well for most of the story particularly at first when back flashes first clue in the reader on the protagonists backstory and later as Brook uses it to show the depth of feelings between the characters, to keep the reader immersed in the action scenes, as well as in all those wonderful lusty scenes that we all expect from a Meljean Brook paranormal romance.

Without giving away too many spoilers, I believe that the focus behind this novella is to establish consent within the perimeters of a paranormal romance by giving the female a choice that is initially taken away from both protagonists through "magical" means. Meljean Brook's paranormal romance novels are well-known for complex world-building and steamy couples. My expectations of Frozen were of a hot, steamy romance and good world-building with a narrower focus due to length -- they were met.

Category: Paranormal Romance/Novella
Release date: September 20, 2014
Source: eARC received from Author for an honest review
Grade: B-

FROZEN will be available in your favorite bookstores now at a special introductory price of 99¢. It is anticipated that a print version will be available shortly afterward.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TBR Review: The Winter Lodge (Lakeshore Chronicles #2) by Susan Wiggs


On the longest night of the year, Jenny Majesky loses everything in a devastating house fire. But among the ashes she finds an unusual treasure hidden amid her grandfather's belongings, one that starts her on a search for the truth, and on a path toward a life that she never imagined. The Winter Lodge, a remote cabin owned by her half sister on the shores of Willow Lake, becomes a safe refuge for Jenny, where she and local police chief Rourke McKnight try to sort out the mysteries revealed by the fire. But when a blizzard traps them together, Jenny, accustomed to the safe predictability of running the family bakery, suddenly doesn't feel so secure. For even as Rourke shelters her from the storm outside, she knows her heart is at risk. Now, following her dreams might mean walking away from her one chance at love.
My choice for the September TBR Challenge read is based on my mood. I felt like getting lost in a small town romance and found this book in my Kindle. I began reading the Lakeshore Chronicles by Susan Wiggs years ago after picking up some of the books at a local pharmacy that to this day carries a limited amount of romance books. Anyway, I read a few of them out of sequence and skipped The Winter Lodge. Once I realized this was the second book of the series, I purchased the Kindle edition where it has been lingering for years.

These romances are set around the small town Avalon, and all are somehow connected to Camp Kanoga and the Bellamy family. Camp Kanoga is portrayed as an old fashioned place where kids and teens went during the summer to learn camping skills and shared life-changing experiences. There is a strong Peyton Place atmosphere to these books with secrets, betrayals, star-crossed lovers suffering because of class conscious families, and children affected by divorce, physical abuse, neglect, poverty and alcoholic parents. Teenage pregnancy is also an issue tied to Camp Kanoga. Jenny Majesky is the result of one such (secret) teenage pregnancy.

The romance in this particular installment is a bit of a mixed bag for me. As in the first book of this series, Summer at Willow Lake, Wiggs uses back flashes to develop the entire story. The couple, Jenny Majeski, a townie, and Rourke McKnight, a wealthy camper, are extremely likable people. They are the focus of the story, however, this is a triangle with Jenny and Rourke loving each other since childhood, but with Rourke believing he is undeserving of her because of childhood abuse and baggage. Jenny is aware of all of this, but dates Rourke's best friend Joey, going as far as becoming engaged to him. Of course this is a recipe for disaster.

Rourke and Jenny were traumatized children from dysfunctional families, and grow up to be dysfunctional adults. Neither can verbalize true feelings for each other without feeling guilt or undeserving until almost the end of the book -- particularly Rourke. It's like they are frozen in time and have a tough time growing up until a mystery is solved and both are set free. Sex is kept behind closed doors, which Wiggs handles very well by infusing the relationship with passionate sexual tension and yearning.

I enjoy how Wiggs works the family dynamics in this series and love the gorgeous descriptions of Avalon and Camp Kanoga. But what I will remember about The Winter Lodge are all the fantastic recipes Wiggs incorporates as part of Jenny Majesky's family history as owners of the Majesky bakery. I drooled, craved breads and sweets throughout most of this read.
Grade: B-

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I want to share a recipe from the book. Here is the shortest, easiest one I could find in the bunch, but there are some fantastic recipes for bread, and Kolaches, Chess Pie, and Irish Cream Cake. I highlighted all of them!

HAPPY CAKE

1 pound cake flour (3 cups)
1 pound eggs (about six)
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (don't substitute)
1 pound (about 2-1/4 cups) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking power

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour Bundt or tube pan. Beat butter until light and gradually add sugar, vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, add buttermilk. Sift together all the dry ingredients and add slowly. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until a thin blade or toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cook 15 to 20 minutes in pan. Then gently remove it, and serve at room temperature with fresh fruit or lemon curd. Makes 12 generous servings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mini: The Winter Long (October Daye, #8) by Seanan McGuire


Last year I read the entire Toby Daye series (Books 1 to 7). I wasn't blown away with the beginning of the series, but somehow both the series and Toby grew on me and I devoured all the books consecutively.

Guess what? Surprise! So far, for me, The Winter Long is the best urban fantasy read of the year. I am really impressed with how beautifully Seanan McGuire weaved threads throughout the series, even bringing in the smallest of details, and wrapping them up in this book, while creating new ones. There are answers that go back to the first book -- remember when Toby was turned into a fish? Expect answers to those events and more.

There are also some terrible betrayals leading to heartbreak for Toby. However, loyal friends do step up to the plate as Toby battles an old powerful frenemy and seeks answers to a personal history that gets more complex by the minute. She gets some much needed answers, but McGuire simultaneously creates new threads by raising new questions and dropping clues to maintain the reader speculating and waiting for more adventures. Toby still ends up bloody and broken, she is still the hero jumping to the rescue, but in The Winter Long she slows down long enough to finally pay attention.

This installment has just enough action, mystery, revelations, and the right pacing to keep the flow going to the beautiful surprise at the end. Great execution. I love this installment.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: The Bears of Winter ed. Jerry L. Wheeler

What can you expect? Bears, Bears, & more Bears . . . Muscle-bound beauties, sexy Daddies, adorable cubs and strong bears experiencing life, adventures, and enjoying each other in stories featuring rough play, erotic moments, the consumption of orgasmic feasts, everyday life issues or those all-important connections. Bears hibernating in past, present, and future winter settings ranging from the North Pole to Antarctica, isolated cabins in mountain ranges to ski resorts, and on to far away planets.

This collection flows beautifully with variety instead of sameness. It kicks off strongly beginning with the erotically enticing contemporary foodie piece "Don't Feed the Bear" by R.W. Clinger, Jeff Mann's vampire tale of domination and submission, control and surrender courtesy of a forceful but loving hunkalicious biker in "Snow on Scrabble Creek," and 'Nathan Burgoine's exquisitely executed speculative fiction piece "Psychometry of Snow."

Frank Muse's amusing "Little Suzie" with an erotic Santa – think snicker doodles and black leather jockstrap -- as the ultimate winter Daddy bear fantasy is followed by “Snowblind,” Jeffrey Ricker's creative science fiction tale set in a distant frozen planet, and Max Vos’ extremely heated “Mountain Bear,” a story set in the cold mountains of Tennessee featuring gay bashing southern style, as well as raw lovin' between a writer and a reclusive bear. Serving as a heavy contrast, Jay Neal's reflective poet/writer sets off in an adventure to research early Antarctica explorers and finds hot romance with a devious bear in "Miles, of the Antarctic."

Up next is Xavier Axelson's fabulous speculative fiction/horror tale detailing a bear's quest for justice in the chilling "Sleeping Bear," followed by the emotional roller coaster "Feast of January” by Roscoe Hudson with a wickedly funny beginning and romantic cookfest that quickly turns into a reflective piece about a past loss and grabbing that second chance at life. And Daniel M. Jaffe serves a different sort of romantic holiday treat as his Jewish sex angel finally finds the love of his life at Christmas time in "Romancing the Pole."

The reader is then transported to 1878 and big, hairy lumberjacks and ice harvesters toiling, bunking together, and tenderly caring for each other in "Truckee," one of Dale Chase’s deliciously raw, bearishly hot and gritty stories. It is a smooth transition to contemporary times and a fabulous bear erotic fiction piece by Lewis DeSimone who with his finely tuned insight into men needing hope or a way to move forward utilizes friendship and a new acquaintance to pave the way for that to happen in "The Bears of Winter." This grouping ends with the futuristic "Thaw" by Hank Edwards, a short story memorable for its excellent world-building, fantastic atmosphere, and a dystopian frozen earth that serves as the perfect setting for a dangerous cute-meet between two surviving bears.

In Phillip Williams' rough and tender erotic tale "World of Men," a young, isolated cub desperately wants to experience the world of men and gets his wishes (and then some) when a bear gives him a few lessons in desire. Everything shifts when a man faces reality when friends help him come to terms with his beloved partner's long illness in Charles Hopwood's truly touching "Cold Comfort." And, the anthology ends with a contemporary piece that relies on the character's fantasies and fixation on a bear for most of its eroticism. "The Balaclava" by Nathan Sims is a story that surprises the reader by ending just as it should for the character.

I usually read anthologies in slow motion -- one, maybe two stories at a time -- but with The Bears of Winter it was different. I read one story after another without stopping for a breath in between. It is true that I am a sucker for stories about bears and that in my estimation Jerry L. Wheeler is a fabulous editor, but in this case the proof is in the pudding. All 16 stories meet the required theme, hibernating bears in all sorts of winter landscapes, however, it is quality writing by the contributing authors and the variety and caliber of the stories chosen by Wheeler that keep this anthology fresh and engaging, driving the reader forward until the very end. Highly recommended. Enjoy.

Category: LGBT - Gay/Bear Erotic Fiction/Anthology
Publisher: Bear Bones Books
Release Date: Digital Ed. August 23, 2014 / Paperback: November 1, 2014
Grade: A-

Other anthologies ed. by Jerry L. Wheeler
Tented: Gay Erotic Tales Under the Big TopRiding the Rails The Dirty Diner: Gay Erotica on the MenuOn The Run: Tales of Gay Pursuit and Passion


Thursday, September 4, 2014

August 2014 Recap: Favorite Reads, Old & New

Summer is over and my reading was great! I did not read all the books on my list, but my hot streak held in August 2014 with lots of excellent books. I'm going to have a tough time choosing personal favorites. Frankly, I was not sure how to go about doing that -- so many of my choices exceeded expectations. My list is a combination of brand new and older releases, so I decided to just separate them this time around. Check them out:

AUGUST 2014 BOOKS READ: 14
Contemporary: 1 (Erotic Fiction)
Urban Fantasy: 2
Fantasy: 1
Mystery: 1
YA Fiction: 1
LGBT:  8 (Speculative Fiction: 1, Mystery: 3, Gay/MM Romance: 4)


Top Reads from old releases:
Broken by Megan Hart: A
The Dark Horse (Longmire #5) by Craig Johnson: A
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: A-
The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday: A-
Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows #1) by Charlie Cochrane: B+

Top Reads from New Releases:
The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley: B+
Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong: B+
Wilde Stories 2014 ed. Steve Berman: B+

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron: B
Think of England by K.J. Charles: B
The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black: B-
I enjoyed this book much more than expected. So subtle and quiet and beautiful. John and his baby. John and his horse-lord. Great mature romance and father-son story. I even understood where the mean ex was coming from. A pleasure. (M/M Romance)
Let It Ride (Pickup Men #2) by LC Chase: C+
I liked this second installment in the Pickup Men series by LC Chase. It was emotionally gratifying, both joyful and angsty, with a conflict that combines sexual exploration and learning to accept real love when it comes your way. (M/M Western/Romance)
If Wishes were Horses by Silvia Violet: D
This M/M Romance did not work for me. This is a case of insta-lust with feelings of quick love following, lacking the intimate moments or friendship to build up to that love.
Upcoming Review:
Home Fires Burning by Charlie Cochrane

Reread: Omens (Cainsville #1) by Kelley Armstrong

AUGUST 2014 OTHER REVIEWS & POSTS:
Books: August/September 2014 New Releases!
July 2014 Recap: Favorite Reads + Minis
Review: Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews
Review: The Girls at The Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine



Monday, September 1, 2014

Hilcia's Minis: YA Wallflowers & Dark Horses + LGBT Mysteries: Porcelain Dogs, Cambridge Fellows & Think of England

In August I craved mysteries and urban fantasy. Today, however, I begin my minis with the young adult fiction book chosen by my Internet Book Club. All of the books below are either highly recommended or recommended reads, and four out of the five are old releases with only one 2014 release in the bunch.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an excellent YA fiction read written in epistolary style. First published in 1999, this short coming-of-age novel is as pertinent today as it was during that time. Chbosky's narrator and main character is young fifteen-year-old Charlie whose personal isolation and awkward social skills are only rivaled by his brilliant mind. The story begins when Charlie is about to start high school and finishes at the end of his freshman year. During that one year, within 213 pages, Charlie undergoes quite a few changes, (character growth) and makes some good as well as some pretty disturbing discoveries about himself. Along the way, he makes some great friends like Patrick, Sam and a few others, but Charlie's family (parents and siblings) are also there in a meaningful way.

This is a smart read, not just a quick one. Chbosky packs in key young adult and family issues, some quite serious, in very few pages while keeping his characters young and fresh as they "discover" and process issues and ideas in their own unique way. While Charlie is the narrator through the letters he writes to "Dear Friend," all the main characters involved in Charlie's life are very well rendered. I was touched by a few them: Charlie, of course, Sam, Patrick and Brad, Charlie's teacher Bill (I wish all teachers were like that!), Charlie's sister and his parents. This is a highly recommended YA fiction read. If you've read it, then you know why. If you haven't, give it try. (1999, Pocket Books)
"In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys' jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if they are happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are."

"We accept the love we think we deserve."

"[e]ven if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them."
I read this book for my Internet Book Club. Thanks to Mariana, Lili, Maria, Christine, and Yinx for the recommendation and discussion.
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CONTEMPORARY WESTERN MYSTERY:
The Dark Horse (Walt Longmire #5) by Craig Johnson

I decided to go back and read books #5 through #7 of the Walt Longmire mystery series so I can catch up with some of the past installments I'm missing. The Dark Horse was first published in 2009. In this one a woman admits to shooting her husband six times after he burned down the barn while all her quarter horses were inside. Alive. But even with proof, a witness, and her confession, Walt doesn't believe she is guilty and sets out to prove it. The Dark Horse is my favorite book of the series so far. The mystery is fantastic and the action is even better. Good ole Walt just keeps surprising me with what he is willing to do to solve a mystery as well as for other people. What a fabulous character and what a great series. I'm picking up the other two books ASAP, and then I will be up to date. Highly recommended. (2009, Viking Adult - Kindle Ed.)

***By the way, the end of the third season for the A&E Longmire television program was fantastic! I'm still breathless.
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LGBT GAY MYSTERIES/ROMANCE:
The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday

The Affair of the Porcelain Dog is the first book in a mystery duology by Jess Faraday that I picked up from the "books recommended" list in Goodreads. It is not a romance, it contains sexual involvements that lead to the mystery and action. Set in the crime-riddled streets of 1889 London, the main character Ira Adler is an orphan and former pickpocket, thief, and male prostitute from the mean East End streets, presently living in luxury under the patronage of powerful crime lord Cain Goddard as payment for an exclusive sexual relationship. Ira has become selfishly spoiled with luxury, but that begins to change after Cain asks him to steal the statue of a porcelain dog containing evidence that under the sodomy laws may send him and others, including Ira, to prison. Ira retrieves the porcelain dog only to loose it to another pickpocket, and the hunt begins in earnest leading to a friend's death, opium traders and more dangerous discoveries.

The setting, characters, atmosphere, action and plotting all come together to create an excellent historical mystery. I appreciate that the sodomy laws in place during that time are not taken lightly or dismissed by the Faraday, instead they play a crucial role in the mystery, drive how the characters' conduct their lives and the actions they take in order to survive. I could not stop reading this book and will pick up Turnbull House, Book #2, to find out what happens to Ira, his detecting partner and ex-client Dr. Tim Lazarus, and Cain. Highly recommended. (2011, Bold Strokes Books-Digital Format) 

Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows #1) by Charlie Cochrane

First published in 2008, this is the first book in an 8 book mystery/romance series by Charlie Cochrane. There is a great mystery in this introductory book to the series and addictive characters that I want to know better. Set in St. Bridges College, Cambridge in 1905, it all begins when the outgoing, good looking Jonty Stewart joins the teaching staff at the college and catches the attention of stodgy, but brilliant, Orlando Coppersmith. A man whose whole life is wrapped up in the school and mathematics. Their relationship slowly changes to intimacy and a forbidden romance. But the murders of young students interrupt their small world of personal discovery, and soon they are caught up in a dangerous position acting as the police's eyes and ears within the college where any one of their students could be the murderer.

The atmosphere in this book is just fantastic, and I fell in love with both Jonty and Orlando. Much tenderness goes into Orlando's seduction, and there is much more to Jonty's character than his outward outgoing, jolly personality. The gay themed mystery is well integrated with the developing relationship between the main characters. I already picked up Lessons in Desire, Book #2. Recommended. (2009, Samhain - Digital Format)

Think of England by K.J. Charles

"Lie back and think of England…"

This is another turn of the century mystery/romance. Set in England, 1904, the majority of the story takes place at a house party in a country home. Captain Archie Curtis lost fingers and friends to a military accident that he believes was the result of sabotage. The only reason he is at this country home is to find proof that the wealthy owner is responsible. He meets the guests and immediately dislikes foreigner Daniel da Silva, an obviously queer poet with the kind of effete mannerisms and sophisticated wit Archie always despised. But as Archie begins to investigate, he finds that Daniel is conducting his own investigation and they join forces. As the danger grows so does the sexual tension, particularly after Archie and Daniel find themselves in a compromising situation with blackmail and murder becoming a real possibility.

This book was recommended to me by Li from Me and My Books, and she was right. I really enjoyed this story for its turn of the century English atmosphere. Particularly Archie's stiff-upper-lip British attitude juxtaposed with the entertaining, tongue in cheek moments provided by Daniel. Oh, the horror! These great characters make a wonderful romantic couple, -- "Can I call on you?" *snort* -- and the mystery and action are a plus. The sodomy laws are taken into consideration, and Charles works through that in the building relationship as well as the mystery plot. I would want to see how she works with an established romance and the complications presented by those laws in a sequel. I would definitely read it. Recommended. (2014, Samhain - Digital Format)