A MelanieM Review: Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

In the two novellas that make up the third book in the popular Boystown Mysteries private Investigator Nick Nowak works two challenging cases and grapples with an even more challenging personal life.

In Little Boy Boom, Nick’s car explodes when a thief attempts to steal it. Realizing the bomb was meant for him, Nick sets out to discover who wants him dead only to find that the list of possible suspects is longer than he’d like. When he begins to run out of suspects he wonders if the bomb was truly meant for him.

Little Boy Tenor finds Nick investigating the murderer of a church choir’s star tenor, while at the same time his friend Ross asks him to discover the truth behind his lover, Earl Silver’s mysterious death. As he juggles the two cases, he becomes increasingly disturbed by what he learns.

Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton see’s Chi town’s dour, promiscuous private investigator torn between two men and deep into two cases that will impact not only himself on a deeply personal level but those close to him.

The cases have flashes of violence (murder is like that), the people seeking Nick’s help often see the P.I. hunting for clues in the seediest areas of Chicago all the way through Catholic parishes attended by his  estranged family to the haunts of Chicago’s upper society.  There is no where that Nick won’t go in pursuit of answers and a swift sexual hookup. Yes, sex and Nick are inseparable.  He never met a blowjob he didn’t like…mostly.  Even now when maybe, in the back of his mind, the thoughts are poking at him that perhaps he should  change his promiscuous ways. Not that he listens very long.  These are the years when they don’t even use condoms. No precautions are taken.  It’s just one slutfest after another, threeways and drugs included. Until something starts to happen.

Set in the early 80’s, there have been whispers of men falling ill and dying of the “gay flu”.  Then in bits and pieces Nick and various characters start to read about a bigger population, and then more theories as Ross’ lover Earl dies of a mysterious death.  And far worse, Nick’s lover Bert Harker falls ill. As Bert’s physical state deteriorates, both men look for answers and Nick faces his true feelings about Bert and Daniel.  It’s bleak, revealing, and heartrending because we have the  perspective and knowledge of the future.  We know where this particular path will lead them and so many others.  We saw the tiny pieces start to appear in the first two collections.  Small chilling appearances in the narrative that made the reader stop and take a deep breath.  And then go “oh no, please no”.  Because what’s the present for these characters is recent history for us. Inarguable, indisputable, horrific, painful history.  We know what they will live through, and because Marshall Thornton’s brilliant stories has made us care for them, we can’t look away.  We shouldn’t look away.

Their lives are messy, alive, human and so worth reading about.  And they are intertwined with Nick’s cases which will continue to have reverberations down  through the books to come.  It’s all connected, as are all the people you will continue to meet.

Marshall Thornton is weaving a Boystown tapestry of sex, murder, love, AIDS, and life in the 80’s. It’s gritty, dark complicated and ultimately moving.  It’s also not to be missed.

Cover art works for branding the series.  i wish it was more in tone like his Pinx Video series.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published January 9th 2015 (first published June 1st 2011)
ASIN B00QZKR5YS
Edition Language English
Series Boystown #3

Series:

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREOR

New Book Release Blog Tour: THE NECROMANCER’S RECKONING (THE BEACON HILL SORCERER #3) by S.J. HIMES (excerpt and giveaway)

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 The Necromancers Reckoning Tour Banner

THE NECROMANCER’S RECKONING

THE BEACON HILL SORCERER, BOOK 3

S.J. HIMES

GAY URBAN FANTASY ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 05.27.18

Necromancers Reckoning 

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

 

COVER DESIGN: Kellie Dennis of Book Cover by Design

 

BLURB

Every action has consequences.

For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.

Until now.

The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.

If found guilty, Angel’s apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel’s mate refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.

The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.

Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a grave robbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town…a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.

This is book 3 of a series, and the previous books should be read first for full enjoyment. Trigger Warnings are on the Copyright Page and can be seen using the Look Inside feature or by downloading a sample of this book.

 

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EXCERPT

“What do you mean, I got a letter?” Angel held his smartphone between his ear and shoulder, fumbling with the keys to his office. It was still dark, and he huffed with impatience, blinking a small orb of hellfire into existence over his hands so he could find the right key. Inserting it into the lock, he opened the door and dismissed the orb, flicking the light switch by the door.

“It was delivered by courier about ten minutes ago,” Daniel replied, his apprentice talking past food. “I had to sign for it. The courier almost didn’t leave it with me until I told him I was your apprentice.”

Angel grumbled to himself, tossing his keys on his desk and grabbing his phone, rubbing the back of his neck. He left his apartment not even ten minutes before, which was only a couple blocks away, so the courier must have shown up right as he was leaving. He frowned, thinking back to the pre-dawn street, and he didn’t recall seeing anyone—not even a car or taxi.

“Well, go ahead and open it,” Angel said, tapping his phone to put it on speaker. Daniel made a happy sound past whatever he was chewing, and Angel snorted out a laugh. He booted up his laptop, looking for the appointment he had that morning at the ass-crack of dawn. Why in the world he thought it would be a good idea to have a private consultation so damn early on a Monday was beyond him. Which was why he decided on waking up everyone he lived with so he could share the misery. Though it was only Daniel since Isaac was at Nevermore and Simeon was at the Tower.

A sharp yelp and swearing came out from the speakers, and Angel laughed. “Papercut?”

“No! It shocked me!” Daniel gasped out, cussing under his breath. “I can’t open it!”

“What do you mean you can’t open it? Just rip it open.”

“I’m trying! Ouch!” Daniel yelped again, and the sounds coming from over the phone were parts hilarious and alarming. “I’m not risking my fingers. You can open it.”

“Who is it from? It might be warded if a courier brought it.”

“Now you tell me,” Daniel muttered, and Angel grinned as he found the appointment time. Daniel was finding his courage and picking up sass lessons from Isaac. His shy apprentice was learning all about sarcasm in the Salvatore household. His appointment was in about five minutes. No time to run back home and get the letter that was singeing his apprentice’s fingers. Daniel recited the address on the letter, “It says, ‘To Angelus Raine Salvatore, Necromancer of Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts. From’…Oh, wow.”

“Who’s it from?”

“The High Council of Sorcery, Bucharest, Romania.”

Angel stood up straight, hands falling away from his laptop. He stared at the phone, the quiet in his office somehow loud, heart pounding in his ears. He looked up at the door as if any second one of the Council enforcers would blast through the doorway, ready to take him into custody for crimes sundry against international sorcery laws. He breathed in, breath shaky, and flexed his fingers. He reached out with his mind, cautiously testing the wards around his office, and there was nothing.

“Angel? Angel!” Daniel squawked over the phone, and Angel snapped free of the tension that held him frozen and snatched up the phone.

“Daniel, my appointment is any minute. Can you bring the letter here? Just hang out in the main room until I’m done if we’ve started when you get here. Wake up Eroch and have him come with you.”

“Um, okay…wake up the fire-breathing lizard, he says.”

“Just pick him up and carry him with you if he doesn’t wake up. He was sleeping on my pillow when I left. Don’t walk over here alone. I’d say hold on to it until I get home, but I have a feeling I need to read that letter as soon as possible.”

“Okay. Can I take a shower first?”

“You better,” Angel chuckled and hung up. Twenty-year-old men needed showers for the sake of everyone.

A knock sounded from the front of the office, and Angel took a deep breath, calming his off-center nerves before heading to answer the door. He was still cautious, sending out his awareness, his wards humming in the recesses of his mind, unmolested. There were two people on the small landing outside his door, their auras muffled by the panel, but they were both practitioners.

Angel opened the door, a polite smile on his face.

“Angelus Salvatore?” asked a tall, bulky man in a dark coat, his face set to glower. Angel lifted a brow, unable to see the person behind the big man. He could see a flash of red hair and a small bit of alabaster skin before the big guy shifted.

“I am,” Angel replied, opening the door wider, stepping back and gesturing them inside. His wards were set to allow strangers inside, but they would dampen any magic cast in this space by strangers or those he blocked. Came in handy when dealing with young sorcerers and unexpected guests. They could still cast, but his magic permeated the space, claiming even the ambient magical energies and stifling spells cast by interlopers. Not much use against a practitioner who used their own reserves, but the more dangerous, higher-ranked practitioners tended to reach outside themselves first before casting.

A tall woman was behind the big guy, slim and covered head to toe in black, from her leather high-heeled boots and ankle-length black pea coat to her black silk scarf and a jaunty, tiny pillbox hat atop titian curls. She was familiar, but the shadows were still dark enough Angel was having difficulty determining her identity. He led them back to his office, gesturing at the chairs in front of his desk. The woman sat, unwinding her scarf, her escort taking a stance beside the office door. Angel turned on the lamps as dawn was taking its time arriving and the room had shadows in inconvenient places.

The woman removed her scarf, putting it on her lap before shrugging from her coat. Her escort stepped forward, taking it from her before returning to his spot by the door. The woman, dressed in a thin black wraparound dress that hugged every slim curve and long line of her body, smiled at Angel. She was pretty, in a very human way, nothing of the fae about her in face or form. Dark green eyes, nothing at all like the brilliant emerald of Simeon’s eyes but arresting enough in their own merits, gazed back at him, glistening with wry humor.

“Lady Kensington,” Angel acknowledged after a moment’s pause, surprised. The recent widow was a wizard and a skilled apothecary who owned and ran Nightshade Apothecary not far from where they sat in Beacon Hill. Angel would see her occasionally in the neighborhood or when he needed supplies between scheduled deliveries. Her husband, Lord Greyson Kensington, died of a heart attack three months ago while shoveling snow off the front stoop of their shop one chilly winter morning.

“Call me Heather, please,” she said, voice melodic and rich, smooth as hot chocolate with a shot of whiskey. Her chin rose as if she was expecting argument. What Angel could remember of her husband, the man was a stickler for propriety and demanded to be addressed by his title, even to friends.

Angel never liked the man.

“Heather,” Angel agreed with a grin, surprising her into smiling back at him. “What can I do for you? And why so early? I would’ve come to the shop.”

“I’m afraid this matter requires a measure of discretion,” Lady Heather replied, twisting her scarf in her fingers. “It’s regarding my late husband.”

Angel paused, thinking. Usually when the recently bereaved came to his door, they wanted either the impossible, like a resurrection, or more commonly, a summoning of the departed spirit. He rarely acquiesced as nothing good could come from repeatedly dialing in to the Other Side. It kept the living from moving on and tormented the souls he would be recalling to this plane.

She must have seen some of these thoughts on his face, as she held up a dainty hand, forestalling his coming denial. “I don’t want you to summon him from the Other Side,” she said, tears gathering on her lashes. Angel waited, curious despite himself. “I want you to find him for me.”

“I’m sorry, I’m not following,” Angel said warily, hoping she didn’t cry. Isaac or Daniel breaking down he hated but knew what to do, a near stranger crying left him awkward.

“The shop was broken into three nights ago,” Lady Heather said quickly, words tumbling over themselves as she hurried to explain. “I heard the commotion from my apartment upstairs, but by the time the police arrived, it was too late.”

“What did they steal?” Angel was trying to follow along, he really was, but he had no idea what a burglary would have to do with her deceased husband.

“They stole him,” Lady Heather said, digging out a handkerchief from her tiny black purse. She dabbed at her eyes, miraculously not smearing her mascara.

Angel frowned. “I’m going to need you to spell this out for me.”

“The thieves stole Greyson’s ghost. I need you to find him.”

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AMAZON US – THE BEACON HILL SORCERER SERIES

AMAZON UK – THE BEACON HILL SORCERER SERIES

SJ Himes Logo

I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with occasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), The Wolfkin Saga, and the epic fantasy romance series Realms of Love. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJHimes/

Website: https://www.sjhimes.com/en

 

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RELEASE BLITZ – Professor Hot Pants by Ember-Raine Winters (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Professor Hot Pants

Author: Ember-Raine Winters

Publisher: Ember-Raine Winters

Cover Artist: Heather Bryant

Genre/s: M/M Student Teacher Taboo

Length: 50 000 words/200 pages

It is a standalone story.

Buy Links

Universal Link http:getbook.at/ProfessorHotPants

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Add on Goodreads  

Blurb

Ryan

My mom always told me that I was better than random hookups but she was a drug addict, what did she know. Sex fulfilled a need in me. I’m not your average college student, but like many students I have one professor I fantasize about. Professor Marks is a great big no-no in the hookup department, so why can’t I stay away?

Philip

I’m a professor of psychology at the University. Being in my position, it was necessary to keep him at a distance. But, he’s slowly becoming an obsession of mine, the sexual tension between us is stifling. Now, we are expected to work together when all I want to do is bend his ass over the table. How will I be able to keep my hands to myself?

Can an unexpected ally bring these two people together and teach them the meaning of family?

Excerpt

I was shocked when he opened it and I got my first good look at him in more than a week. His dark hair was sticking up all over the place, there were bruise-like circles under his eyes, and it looked as though he’d lost ten pounds. He looked like hell.

“Professor Marks? Uh, what’re you doing here?” He eyed me warily, as he probably should, since showing up at his dorm room was unprofessional at best, stalkerish at worst.

I cleared my throat. If I was going to do this, I’d come off as professional and courteous as possible. “I haven’t seen you in class in over a week.” Looking down at him, I confessed, “Sissy told me what happened. I’m here to talk.”

“I’m fine. I don’t need to talk.” He started to close the door but my hand shot out and grabbed it.

“Sissy is worried about you,” I said softly, trying to conceal the hope in my eyes at wanting him to confide in me. “I can be a really great listener.” He paused, then nodded his head and opened the door wider to allow me entry.

“I don’t know why she worries. It’s not like I’m going to do anything to hurt myself. I’m just grieving. My mom was the only family I had, well, I have my half-sister, but she has her own life and we were never super close.” He kicked some clothes out of the way and sat down on his bed, leaning up against the cement block wall that was covered in posters. “My sister was raised by her grandma and she’s seven years older than me. Mom always felt bad about them taking Court away, so she did everything in her power to make sure the same didn’t happen to me.”

He twisted around, dropping his feet to the floor buried his face in his hands as quiet sobs racked his body. I dragged the desk chair over to where he was sitting and sat down next to him by the edge of the bed. Our knees brushed briefly and I sucked in a lungful of air before moving back a fraction. My hand came down on his knee and I squeezed. “It’s good to grieve for your loss, but would your mom want you to sit here alone, wallowing in that grief?” He looked up at me with red rimmed eyes. “Absolutely not. She’d want you to live. I’m aware of your scholarship, if your grades slip they could take that from you, Ryan.”

“Yeah,” he said attempting to take a few deep breaths and pull himself together. “It just hurts so fucking bad knowing that I wasn’t enough of a reason for her to get herself clean. I know it was a disease taking her life, but honestly, I don’t give a fuck about that at the moment.” His anger was palpable and well deserved, but it’d been a week of him holing himself up in this room alone, suffering alone.

“I know this sounds contrite, and while this is painful, it will get easier. As you progress through your degree—and you will, Ryan, make no mistake—you’ll understand more of the anatomy of an alcoholic and drug addict. It may not be of comfort to you now, but eventually you’ll learn to forgive her.”

Anger flashed in his eyes as he jumped off the bed, pushing me back, and screamed the most guttural heartbreaking sound I’d ever heard in my life.

“I don’t want to forgive her! She left me. That’s the one thing she always promised she wouldn’t do.” He slammed his hand down on his desk. The container full of pencils fell over scattering across the floor. “I did everything for her. I work two jobs so she has a place to stay and a phone to call me. I put food in her fridge every week. Yet, she couldn’t even keep the one promise she made to me.” His hands were braced on the desk, his head slumped forward, and I couldn’t hold myself back anymore. I walked over and wrapped my arms around him; it was like the dam burst inside of him. He turned around, then buried his face in the crook of my neck as loud racking sobs tore through his body.

I knew what I’d said was the truth about him eventually forgiving her, but he was still so raw there was no way he’d be able to accept anything until he passed through the overwhelming sadness and anger. “Shhh, it’s okay, I’m here. I’m not judging you, Ryan. If you need to cry, do it. If you need to get angry and throw things, I’ll sit quietly and watch that you don’t hurt yourself. The one thing you aren’t is alone.” I rubbed his back soothingly before I realized what I was doing. Ryan must have gotten the same weird tension because he sniffled before taking a step back.

“Thank y-you,” he stammered. “I’m okay now.”

“Right.” I cleared my throat, shifting from foot to foot, taking a step back from him, now completely uncomfortable with the tension radiating from him. “I, uh, brought the work you missed the last week.” Walking back over to the front door, I grabbed my satchel and dug around for the packet of papers I’d printed for him. He took a few hesitant steps forward and our fingers brushed as I handed him the assignment. A spark of electricity sizzled up my arm and I drew my arm back quickly.

“I’ll be in class Monday with all of this done.” His eyes refused to meet mine.

“My personal cell number is on that card in case you need to talk.”

“Is that… allowed?” He finally looked up.

“Look, Ryan, I’m just a professor making sure that a student is okay. It’s my responsibility, not only as a teacher here, but knowing what had happened, it’s the right thing to do.” I shrugged casually.

“None of my other professors have come to my dorm offering to talk or leaving me their phone numbers.” He pointed out with a lifted eyebrow.

“Look, use the number, or don’t. I don’t really care. I was just offering my help if you need it.” So what if I was a bit righteous in defending myself? He was acting as though I had ulterior motives—and as much as there was something about him, the person before me was in pain, and I’d never cross that line of causing someone more.  

“Are you sure that’s all it is, Professor Marks?” Ryan took an aggressive step toward me, his hands balled into fists at his sides, crumpling the papers I gave him.

My jaw clenched tight as I ground out, “Positive, I’ll see you in class on Monday, Ryan,” then I hightailed it out the door, Ryan’s soft chuckle following me.

Shit. What was I thinking going in there?

About the Author

Ember-Raine Winters lives in sunny California with her two beautiful kids and a wolf. Also known as Apache her pure white Siberian Husky. She loves writing romance and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. And, football! She loves watching football and going to games. It’s one of her favorite ways to unwind. She dislikes the super-hot temperatures in her city and exercise. She hates to exercise but somehow her sister still gets her to do it every day. She also thinks it’s completely awkward talking about herself in third person. Ember loves connecting with readers so don’t be afraid to stalk her and drop her a line on social media.

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