Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
It’s been almost 2 months since PI Niall Valentine and his occult shopkeeper boyfriend, Gus Goodwin, began their relationship over several mysteries and murders they solved together. Now all they wish to do is find time to spend together and get used to being a couple. Instead they find themselves once more pulled into magic, mystery, and murder.
Niall’s latest client, Angelina Talbot, is convinced that her new husband attempted to kill her. Florian Talbot appeared in their bedroom half-naked and covered in blood. Scared out of her mind, Angelina hit him with a lamp and ran away, convinced she had killed him. But his body never appeared and his family assumes he’s alive and well. Is Florian dead? And did she kill him? Angelina Talbot wants to know and she wants Niall to uncover the truth about her husband.
The Talbot family is full of eccentrics, devil worshippers, and downright criminals. It’s the Satanists that draw Gus into the investigation. No one and nothing is as it seems. As more people disappear and the body count rises, Niall and Gus are sure only of one thing….their love for each other. But will that be enough with a psychotic killer on the loose and kidnapping on the mind?
I fell in love with Gus Goodwin and Niall Valentine in the first The Wheel Mysteries story, Sparks & Drops (The Wheel Mysteries, #1). It felt fresh and captivating. And the element that really set it apart from other mysteries was the use of the Wiccan religion as a basis for the investigations and the character of Gus Goodwin. Susan Laine delves deep into the rituals, beliefs, and common misconceptions held about the Wiccan religion and uses that knowledge as story lines and the foundation for her series.
With her characters, Susan Laine offers the reader both sides of a familiar argument. Is magic and witchcraft real? Who are those people who not only believe in it but practice the Wiccan religion as others worship more recognized, commonly held religious beliefs such as Christianity and such? Coming down on the side of Wicca is Gus Goodwin, a practicing Wiccan. He runs The Four Corners, a shop devoted to Wiccan accouterments, books and such. How he gets to own that store happens in the first book. Gus is a devout practitioner and the rituals he observes are relayed in one absorbing scene after another.
On the other side of the argument is PI Niall Valentine. Thoughtful, open minded. Niall retains that acerbic, questioning attitude necessary for his profession and part of his persona. Niall may research the topic of Wicca, and become knowledgeable but that certainly doesn’t make him a believer. Together, they form a unified investigative front for the paranormal and supernatural mysteries that come their way. They make a terrific duo, on equal level with each other and they know it. How refreshing and adult.
Another thing I love about their relationship and storyline? No instant love. This is the second book and they are only a month and a half into figuring out their romance. They live apart, see each other when they can, and haven’t said the L word because it is much too soon. They are working on their emotions, and relationship dynamics. They also haven’t had anal sex because they can’t seem to find the time to make the preparations necessary for that type of sex. That realism works to connect us to Niall and Gus on a basic level and their hurried, full lives make them relatable as well.
The mysteries here are good ones. Yes, more than one. Once again, Gus and Niall bring in members from the local Wiccan society to help with their investigation which turns very dark early on. There are murders and one particular practitioner of the occult seem to have a role to play in the books to come. Sinister thy name is……nope, can’t give that one away. And yes, their relationship takes several more serious steps forward.
Susan Laine gives the reader so many wonderful elements to enjoy in this story. A romance just getting under way, several mysteries, a couple of murders, and a deeper insight into the Wiccan religion and its worshippers as a whole. I can’t recommend this story and series enough. It’s entertaining, sexy, and yes, fascinating too. If you’ve read the first story, you will want to pick this up immediately. But if this is a new series to you, start at Sparks & Drops to see how Niall and Gus meet and the romance starts. The Wheel continues to turn and more stories will come. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrech. I thought this was a great cover. Visually interesting and perfect for the story.
ebook, 192 pages
Published July 2nd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627988033 (ISBN13: 9781627988032)
seriesThe Wheel Mysteries #2
Books in The Wheel Mysteries in the order they were written and should be read:
Sparks & Drops (The Wheel Mysteries #1)
Devil’s Own (The Wheel Mysteries #2)