A MelanieM Review : The Jackal’s House (Lancaster’s Luck #2) by Anna Butler

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Sequel to The Gilded Scarab

Lancaster’s Luck: Book II

Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy….

Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.

Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god, Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?

Let me say right from the start The Jackal’s House by Anna Butler is just outstanding entertainment and a grand read!  If you love suspense, mystery, romance, and a story full of intrigue and great world building, well, this is the one for you.

There are several things I’d like to dispense with immediately.  Yes, The Jackal’s House is a sequel to The Gilded Scarab, the first Lancaster’s Luck story, however, I don’t feel it’s necessary to read that one in order to get the full enjoyment out of this tale.  Anna Butler gives you the details you need (enough to make you want to read that one) and then moves you into the events unfolding here.  Rafe and Ned are  a newly established couple (as much as they can be in this universe) and are still working out exactly what that means to their lives in all their complicated aspects.

The next is that this is a steampunk world which envisions a universe using a different type of energy and having more elements in their scientific table.  There is a comprehensive glossary in the back of the story just in case you need it.  You might want to look it over first, but I didn’t really find it necessary.  Why?  Because the vivid descriptions which create such marvelously complete pictures in your mind give this author’s world vision flight!  Just like the magnificent  machine that will carry Rafe, Ned, Harry, Molly and the lot all the way to Aegypt.   Butler makes this world hum and glow with aether!  Even if you never thought you’d like a steampunk story before, trust me, you’ll love this one.

Why?  Because of all the incredible layers.  It’s not just the romance, which is touching, real, and believable.  I loved Rafe and Ned, pulling towards one another against everything,  including the politics of the day.  No it’s their families, the  whole complicated political structure Butler has created with tightly involved families (reflecting the English houses where politics and family could not be separated), and the hierarchy in which  Ned and Rafe are both caught up in.

In The Jackal’s House, the characterization is superb, the  plots tights and deeply layered and the suspense off the charts.   And the love and romance matches it all.     I want so much more!

So grab up The Jackal’s House (Lancaster’s Luck #2) by Anna Butler and prepare to fall deeply in love.  I suspect you’ll find yourself heading back to pick up The Gilded Scarab like I will.  If our luck holds, there will be more of the Lancasters and Ned and Rafe.  And scarabs of course.   They seem to go hand in hand.

Cover Design: Reese Dante  is just terrific.  Works with all the elements of the storyline and character.

Sales Link

 Amazon US | Amazon UK

Dreamspinner Press ebook  |  Dreamspinner Press paperback

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspinner Press, 310 pages
Published October 30th 2017
Original TitleThe Jackal’s House
ISBN139781635339444
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLancaster’s Luck #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Familiar Angel by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was certainly a departure from what I normally read and most definitely a departure from stories I’ve read from Amy Lane, one of my favorite authors.  The main reason it’s a departure is that it’s fantasy-based and that’s not my favorite genre; there’s also a historical element, a lot of world-building, and a huge family dynamic with relationships out of the norm—it’s a family of the heart rather than a family of origin—so even understanding all those intertwining relationships took some time and concentration to get me into the rhythm of the story.  Was it a romance?  Well, there’s an MM romance within the book but I would hesitate to recommend this one to someone looking strictly for an MM romance because it’s only about 20% of the story, and actually, once the angel is in corporeal form, it’s only about 10%. 

But I digress.  Here’s the background:  A sorceress and a demon—Emma and Leonard—are ill-fated lovers and while being pursued/hunted, they take the time for the sorceress to prepare a spell to humanize the demon and to get them away from their pursuers. During the incantation, she looks across the clearing and sees three young boys who are running for their lives from Big Cass, a whoremaster, rapist, brothel-keeper.  She includes the boys—Harry, Edward, and Francis—in the spell and when the dust settles, the demon is now human, and she’s still alive but has given some of her power away to change the three boys to her familiars who are now able to assume cat form.  All have become immortal, though they will age very slowly over time. To the boys, the important thing is that they will be together and they’ve escaped Big Cass.  Then they discover both the safety they feel and the fun they can have in their cat forms and remain in those forms more often than not over the first year or so after they’ve been changed.

The family establishes itself in California and when the boys later hear of a group of young people being sold into slavery, they determine they are going to rescue them. Thus starts a hundred year plus journey during which the family specializes in finding, rescuing, and redirecting young women and men being trafficked.  Over time, Harry and the angel, Suriel, who is Heaven’s angel doomed to suffer for those bound against their will, become very close. In fact, almost from the beginning, Harry loves Suriel and Suriel loves Harry, so much so that he comes down from Heaven a few times over the years to save Harry’s life.  Each time, he suffers more when he returns to Heaven.  It’s a price he pays for helping Harry—a price he gladly pays. 

I’m not sure I’m doing justice to the world the author built here as it was complex so somewhat confusing to me, but I liked the fact that in the latter parts of the story, the characters recounted some of their adventures so it helped to put their view of the world and the events that brought them together into perspective. 

I wish there had been more time for Harry and Suriel on page. Though the depth of their love for one another was clear at the end, their earlier years together were told as flashbacks, and in some cases, assumptions, so the strength of their bond was not as apparent as it was in the last chapters.  And maybe Harry wasn’t quite as lovable a human as I would like.  I’m not sure. He spent a lot of time in his head and looking out for his brothers—a typical oldest child.  There is a nice setup for both brothers to have their stories: Edward, the middle brother, is apparently in love with a demon who has helped them off and on through the years; and Francis, the youngest brother is in love with the child born to Emma and Leonard who is now at college age and about to be sent off to Oxford.  I found it odd that though none of the rest of them are aging, the child of the sorceress and former demon grew and aged at a human pace up to this point.  Will that continue or will his progress slow so that he can keep pace with his lover, Francis, the youngest of the familiars who at this point is immortal?   Hmm, inquiring minds want to know. 

Overall, though, I did enjoy this story from the fertile imagination of Amy Lane. I do recommend it to those who enjoy angels and demons and the world they live in and to those who want to get in on the ground floor of what could turn out to be a long-term, engaging, and intriguing MM romance series.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  It works for the character and storyline.

Sales Links;  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635339468
Edition Language English

An Ali Review: Kill Game (Seven of Spades #1) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Homicide detective Levi Abrams is barely holding his life together. He’s reeling from the fallout of a fatal shooting, and his relationship with his boyfriend is crumbling. The last thing he’s prepared for is a serial killer stalking the streets of Las Vegas. Or how he keeps getting thrown into the path of annoyingly charming bounty hunter Dominic Russo.

Dominic likes his life free of complications. That means no tangling with cops—especially prickly, uptight detectives. But when he stumbles across one of the Seven of Spades’s horrifying crime scenes, he can’t let go, despite Levi’s warnings to stay away.

The Seven of Spades is ruthless and always two moves ahead. Worst of all, they’ve taken a dangerously personal interest in Levi and Dominic. Forced to trust each other, the two men race to discover the killer’s identity, revealing hidden truths along the way and sparking a bond neither man expected. But that may not be enough to protect them.

This killer likes to play games, and the deck is not stacked in Levi and Dominic’s favor.
I thought this was really good.  I haven’t been this excited about a new series in a long time.  In fact, if the rest of the series was done I would have binge read the entire thing.  When the story starts we meet both Dominic and Levi.  They know each other through their jobs but they don’t know each other well.  When a serial killer starts hunting prey in their city they end up crossing paths in a more detailed way.  The two men both feel the chemistry between them but there is a lot going on in both of their lives and getting together is a complicated things.
As the book proceeds the two MC’s get drawn together repeatedly due to the circumstances of the case.  I loved how the author handled these two getting together.  It’s a slow burn and it’s obvious she’s going to take her time building their relationship and I for one am really excited about that.  I love ongoing series where the main characters have time to build a solid foundation and where the author takes the reader along and lets us see all the steps along the way. 
I liked both Levi and Dominic and I thought they were both well done and thoroughly fleshed out.  They came across as realistic people with realistic problems.  Both have some issues they’re going through and the author shows us their vulnerabilities and flaws.  Despite that, or maybe because of that, I immediately connected with them both.  There are a host of side characters (friends, family, co-workers) that we both interesting and added to the overall plot.
The author did a good job on the mystery aspect of the case.  I thought it was entertaining and pretty fast paced.  I have some theories about who the killer is and I’m eager to get to the next installments of the series to see if I’m right or not.  The murders were sufficiently creepy but not too gruesome or dark. 
So, again, this was really good and is going to go on my “best of” list this year.  It looks like there will be 5 books total in this series and I can’t wait to read them all.
The cover was done by G.D Leigh and I think it’s fantastic.  It fits the creepy vibe of a book about a serial killer.  I think it’s super eye catching and attractive.  When you get to the end of this book you can see the covers for the rest of the books in the series and they are all great.  They are distinctive and they match well.  You’ll have no trouble seeing that they are a matched set.
Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 297 pages
Published October 23rd 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleKill Game
ISBN139781626496194
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSeven of Spades #1 settingLas Vegas, Nevada (United States)
Nevada (United States)

The Seven of Spades series is best read in order of publication, which is as follows:

  1. Kill Game (October 23, 217)
  2. Trick Roller (January 29, 2018)
  3. Cash Plays (April 30, 2018)
  4. One-Eyed Royals (July 30, 2018)
  5. A Chip and a Chair (October 22, 2018)

Bru Baker on Getting to know Tate, Werewolf camp counselor and her release Camp H.O.W.L. (author guest blog)

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Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Release date: Nov. 1, 2017

Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Bru Baker here on her Camp H.O.W.L. tour.  Welcome, Bru.

 

Getting to know Tate, werewolf camp counselor by day, hermit by night

Hi, I’m Bru Baker, and I’m continuing my release tour for Camp H.O.W.L. here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Thanks for joining me, and thanks to Melanie, Stella, and the rest of the review crew here for having me here today.

I introduced everyone to brand  new werewolf (affectionately labeled fail!wolf in my  notes because he’s a late bloomer and in denial at first) Adrian yesterday on Love Bytes, so today I’m going to talk about Tate, the werewolf psychologist/camp counselor to troubled werewolf teens who Adrian ends up accidentally bonded to.

Tate went into psychology to help ensure that no wolfling had to deal with the same kinds of trauma and neglect he was raised in as part of a remote pack of werewolf supremacists who shunned human society and lived ruled by their baser instincts. It was no place for a reserved, thoughtful guy like Tate, and he escaped as soon as he was old enough to board a bus on his own and set out for college.

He’s been at Camp H.O.W.L. for years, and while he does have friends on the staff, Tate uses the camp as a crutch to help him avoid relationships. He spends his days surrounded by teenagers in the middle of the forest–it’s safe to say Tate isn’t known for putting himself out there with other adults. In the excerpt I’m sharing today, we see Tate trying to talk himself out of his attraction to Adrian, but his friend and mentor at the camp isn’t having any of it.

Blurb

Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast….

When Adrian Rothschild skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was, somehow, human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his Pack—scared, alone, and eight years late.

Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L. to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.

A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But is Adrian up to the challenge?

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 238 pages
Tags: Gay; M/M; werewolves; Dreamspun Beyond

Excerpt

 

 

He’d expected living with Adrian to be difficult, but it wasn’t. And that upset him more than the thought of sharing space with someone who inconvenienced him. Adrian didn’t inconvenience him. Not in the least. Tate liked having him there. They’d been living in each other’s pockets for two weeks, and by all rights Tate should be climbing the walls—but he wasn’t. He looked forward to coming back to the cabin and having someone there to talk to. The way their scents had mingled in the shared spaces was maddening, but also comforting. For the first time he could remember, the cabin felt cozy and welcoming.

They were on the same page almost across the board—when they liked to eat, what they did in their free time, balancing quiet time with time spent hanging out. Adrian had slipped into Tate’s daily routine seamlessly. He was the ideal roommate, which should have been a good thing.

It wasn’t. Not by a long shot. Because along with the inside jokes and comfortable companionship came smoldering looks and flirty banter that made Tate’s inner wolf sing—and the rest of him shy away.

“Tell me again how it annoys you that he puts the cap back on the toothpaste,” Kenya drawled, and Tate scowled at her from his place on the floor.

“Don’t make it sound childish,” he snapped, aware he was being incredibly juvenile even as he said it.

“It sounds to me like you’re just looking for reasons the two of you aren’t a good match,” she said, and he threw the balled-up sock he had in one hand at her.

She caught it deftly, unfurled it, and examined it. “I was looking for that one!” she said triumphantly, matching it to one in her basket and folding them together.

“Remind me again why I agreed to help you fold your laundry?” Tate asked as he sought out more socks from the pile.

“Because you’re having an existential crisis, and I told you I couldn’t counsel you officially because the existential crisis is about one of my patients?”

Tate threw the unmatched socks back on the pile and lay back down, spreading out on her carpet. “It’s not an existential crisis.”

“It isn’t,” she agreed. “It’s not a crisis at all. It’s a good thing, and you don’t know how to deal with that. You, Tate Lewis, actually don’t know a good thing when it bites you in the ass, and that’s partly my fault. I should have made you go out and do more things before you installed yourself here as the camp hermit.”

He rolled up to his side and glared at her. “I am not the camp hermit.”

“You never leave the grounds. That makes this your hermitage.” She frowned. “Is that a word? Hermitude? No, that would be your hermit-y attitude. Hermitage, I’m sticking with that. We’ll get you a plaque made to put outside your cabin. Tate’s Hermitage.”

He groaned and rubbed his hands over his face. “And you can’t make me do anything, anyway. I’m my own man.”

“Sure you are, sugar,” she said sweetly. He didn’t doubt that if they’d been close enough, she would have patted his hand. “So be your own man on this and man up and make a move!”

Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

About the Author

Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Review Tour for Anna Butler’s The Jackal’s House (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 114,000 words approx. 
 
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante 
 
Lancaster’s Luck Series
 
The Gilded Scarab (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
About The Series


Lancaster’s Luck is set in a steampunk world where, at the turn of the 20th century, the eight powerful Convocation Houses are the de facto rulers of the Britannic Imperium. In this world of politics and assassins, a world powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston and where aeroships fill the skies, Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Aero Corps, buys a coffee house in one of the little streets near the Britannic Museum in Bloomsbury.


So begins the romantic steampunk adventures which have Rafe, a member of Minor House Stravaigor, scrambling over Londinium’s rooftops on a sultry summer night or facing dire peril in the pitch dark of an Aegyptian night. And all the while, sharing the danger is the man he loves: Ned Winter, First Heir of Convocation House Gallowglass, the most powerful House in the entire Imperium.


Blurb


Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy….


Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case. 


Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god, Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?


Excerpt

I like kissing.


Like Ned, I’d spent years in hiding. His constraint had been matrimony and the sense of honor and duty that would never have allowed him to be unfaithful to the mother of his sons. Only her untimely death had released those bonds. Mine had been less noble: I had no desire for a court-martial and a dishonorable discharge from Her Imperial Majesty’s Aero Corps. Most of my encounters over the years had been quick and furtive, but I’d taken every chance I could to practice my technique.


I not only liked kissing, I was good at it.


Fast little kisses to start with, kisses that barely made contact with the skin of Ned’s throat, kisses meant to tease. He tilted his head back to let me in, closing his eyes. His mouth opened on a soft sigh. I hoped he was giving himself up to the pleasure, losing himself in it, that nothing mattered to him at that moment except the feel of my mouth on his throat and lips. I hoped so. I wanted to please him.


I kissed and licked the delicate skin under his ear until he choked with laughter at the tickling. He tightened his grip on my hands and tugged at them until I raised my head. Ha! He’d lulled me into trusting him there and took full advantage of it. He swooped to capture my mouth with his, cutting off breath and thought, bringing a dizzying warmth with his hot tongue, and making me moan.


Of course, they were very manly moans.

 

ns.

For Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review, visit here.

 

October 30 – Love Bytes
November 1 – Nerdy, Dirty & Flirty
November 3 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Novel Approach
November 6 – RJ Scott 
November 7 – Gay Book Reviews
November 8 – MM Good Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook, Jim’s Reading Room
November 9 – Alpha Book Club
November 10 – Drops of Ink, Bayou Book Junkie, Padme’s Library

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo. 



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