A MelanieM Review : Murder at Oakschott Hall by Jim Austen

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

In the Junior students’ dormitory at Oakschott Hall, a heavy gaslight falls from the ceiling, crushing the head of a student sleeping beneath it. Was it simply a tragic accident? To avoid publicity, the Headmaster asks Colin Revell, a young Oxford University graduate and former Oakschott student, to quietly investigate.

While interviewing the faculty and staff, Colin meets Max Lambourne, a handsome don who was wounded and gassed in WWI. When Colin tries to help Max overcome his trauma and depression, the two men fall in love and begin an erotic affair.

But when another student dies—diving at night into an empty swimming pool—murder is suspected. Students and faculty all come under suspicion, and rumors proliferate when Scotland Yard intervenes. Meanwhile, during all this confusion and wild theories, the murderer sees Colin and Max as threats. Unbeknownst to the two lovers, their lives are now in danger.

Murder at Oakschott Hall by Jim Austen is my first novel by this author and it’s in a genre, two in fact, that are hard to get right.  The first is the historical novel.  This is set in 1927 in England and has its own lingo/colloquialisms and historical framework wherein  the story and characters have to adhere to.   For Austen, that meant having his characters with WWI as part of their back history, including being gassed,  and having PTSD although it wasn’t called that at the time.  Getting all those elements that make an era come alive without making it feel like a history info dump takes hard work and i believe that Austen did a great job here, albeit with an occasional  slip up or two.  This author is inordinately fond of the word queer and uses it so frequently that it becomes not only noticeable but an annoyance.  When you count it’s use 3 times in 3 short sentences in a row, well, you can see my drift.  Other words could have been substituted but he was either making a point about its use in the 1900’s which yes, we know it meant something different, or its just his favorite word.  Either way, it took away from the scenes becauses it was a distraction.

The other thing that is hard to write?  A good old mystery!  And here, Austen does well too.  The author keeps us guessing  with multiple suspects right up until the end, with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep the main character poised for either a major breakthrough or major trouble.  Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed this element of the story.

No, I think where the story floundered a bit was in the romance itself.  And perhaps the main character of Colin Revell.  He just never seems to have much substance to him. A flighty sort might be one description.  I didn’t particularly like him.  And the romance?  A total case of instant love or lust.  It was a matter of Max Lambourne having a bad case of PTSD which turns into sex, when they barely knew each other in 1927.  Talk about taking risks.  Which of course turned into “I love you” almost immediately.   I mean how fast could my eyes roll? Yes that fast.  What follows between them is just as superficially epic while asking the reader to believe this is a real relationship.

No for me, while the historical elements and mystery worked, the two main characters actually didn’t, which was sort of a first.

I think that while I wouldn’t read this story again, I would seek out more from this author.  As I said there’s much to recommend here,just not the romance.  If you like historical mystery, pick it up for that.  And the language and setting.  I never could resist a mystery.

Cover Design: Reese Dante

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 204 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Flying Heron Press
ASINB07NJ2L79L
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ashlez Review: Broken by Colette Davison

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Rating – 4.5 stars out of 5

Rule #1: Keep running.

Jag’s rules have kept him safe and free since he escaped conversion therapy, but that was before he walked into Heaven and Hell. A no-strings fling with the club owner, Michael, turns into so much more as Jag finds himself breaking one rule after another.

Michael hasn’t been able to commit to anyone since his partner died, until Jag walks into his club. Falling in lust with the elfin young dancer is easy, and his heart is quick to follow.

Michael gives Jag a reason to stay, but fear rules Jag’s heart more than love. Despite his deepening feelings for Michael, Jag knows he can’t stay. Can he?

**Contains adult themes, content, and language.**

When the book first starts off you get a slight sense of who Jag is, you get no sense as to who Michael is but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Both men seem well put together and quite smart – I honestly couldn’t wait to get to know them more.
Jag’s character backstory progresses at a nice pace – I didn’t feel like I was stalled at all getting to know him and what his life entailed
I can honestly say I’ve never read a book quite like this one – the atmosphere was electric and I didn’t want to put the book down.  It was so well written in my head I was just like, this is a movie!  The climax I think could have been a bit more intense but I clearly wasn’t mad at it.
I loved the dance aspect I loved the characters and the emotions involved in the book, such a good read, and beautiful writing.
Cover Art by Colette Davison. This art was spectacular, the cover describes specifics of the book and it’s so mesmerizing to look at

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P67CNDK/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07P67CNDK/

Book Details:
ebook
Published March 5th 2019
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Freckles by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Small dogs can make big changes… if you open your heart.

Carter Embree always hoped someone might rescue him from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer—and he needs a little help.

Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who eases Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse of the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be “Super Pet Owner”—and decent boyfriend material to boot.

But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says goodbye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive. He can be a man who stands up for his principles!

He can be the owner of a small dog.

Freckles by Amy Lane is the very essence of a lighthearted, feel so good romance that make you want to snuggle and laugh.  Yes, she writes those too.  It’s in that face on the cover that makes you want to pick it up and take it home to love.  That’s this book in a nutshell.

Somehow Amy Lane captured that and put everything you feel when you are looking at that face and put it into two characters, and their path towards dog ownership and love.  Just amazing.

It’s a trip you know that Carter Embree is going to take whether he realizes it or not the moment that bundle of fur is put into his hands.  Freckles comes alive as a character for us and for Carter.  That puppy jumps into our hearts just as firmly as they do Carter’s so we don’t even puzzle as we watch the growth in the man as he expands emotionally and more to become first the person Freckles needs him to be and then the person he himself was always meant to be.

Sandy Corrigan is the other wonderful main character helping both Carter and Freckles along their journey.  I adored him.  His energy, his passion for the animals, and for Carter.  Their relationship, all three, had me just smiling til my face hurt.

And there’s more of course,  Secondary characters that really are so terrific, so believable, they are an absolute delight.

Truly, this is a feel great book to read over and over again.  Need something to pick you up?  Make your heart feel better?  Your day a little lighter and brighter?  Look no further than the cover and the wonderful story of Freckles by Amy Lane.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  This cover just grabbed at my heart.  Totally Freckles and precious in every way.  Adorable.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2nd edition, 137 pages
Expected publication: March 8th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 14th 2016)
ASINB07L3VJCVV
Edition Language English

Characters Carter Embrea, Sandy Corrigan
setting Sacramento, California (United States)
California (United States)

An Alisa Review: Coming Out (The Knights Club #4) by CJ Baty

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Phillip Hapner was smart and good looking. He just had one problem. He liked to gamble, trouble was he wasn’t very good at it. Now, he was trying to stay alive and convince the leader of the underground gambling syndicate, that he didn’t know who was in charge. Well, he did have one other problem, Malachi Brady. The cop who was protecting him. Phillip wanted him, even though he knew the man was straight.

 

Malachi Brady had accepted that his brother was gay. He believed everyone was intitled to love whom they wanted. He knew he wasn’t gay, but he was feeling things for Phillip Hapner he’d never felt before. When he was assigned to protect Phillip, the sexual tension between them exploded. Could he figure out what was going on in his head and his body and who was behind the gambling syndicate in Atlanta.

 

The people who work at the Knights Club are a family. And like any family, there are times when things just don’t go right.

 

I’m feeling bad, the more I get into this series the more frustrated I am getting with Seb and Xavier from the original book.  We are finally seeing what has been going on with Phillip, though it’s not that big of a surprise.  Malachi needs to come to terms with his feelings before it’s too late and he pushes Phillip away for good.

 

These men were actually the most sensible of about their relationship, though Malachi had some problems with getting everything trough his head, but what “straight” guy wouldn’t.  I liked that when he made a decision he jumped in with both feet.  I could connect with these guys to most, Phillip’s helplessness with his situation and Malakai’s coming to terms with his feelings but he drama near the end just came full circle to the end of the last books.

 

So, Seb has forgiven Xavier but gets in Malakai’s face even after offering to be a sounding board.  Phillips problems bring Zach Brady back into the brother’s lives and at the end of the book it’s Xavier with the problem, we saw some of this in the first book and I’m definitely reading the last book to figure out what is going on but I am not on board with all the secrets and lies going on.

 

The cover art by Select-O-Grafix is okay and follows the same style and set up as the rest of the series.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

Published: December 18, 2018

Edition Language: English

Series: The Knights Club #4

Bru Baker on Celebrity Chefs, Characters, and her new release Stealing His Heart (Connoll Pack #1)

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Stealing His Heart (Connoll Pack #1) by Bru Baker

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy links:

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Google Play

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Bru Baker here today talking about her new series, a followup to the popular Camp H.O.W.L. series we loved so much.  Welcome, Bru!

🐾

If you’ve read any of my books you’ll know that food is featured in pretty much everything I write. Sometimes it’s center stage, like in Talk Turkey and King of the Kitchen, but even when it’s not a huge part of the book, it’s there. I love it when my characters cook together or share a romantic meal.

I’m a big foodie myself, and I love watching celebrity chefs. There’s something so soothing about watching the magic of television cooking, where nothing takes more than a few seconds to cook and you can see an entire complicated recipe come together from beginning to end in under thirty minutes.

One of my favorite celebrity chefs gets a cameo in my latest book, Stealing His Heart. Food has been part of every Camp H.O.W.L. book, from food fights in the camp mess to romantic picnics and home-cooked meals. This is the fourth book in that universe, and it’s no different–though it’s not exactly our heroes who are doing the cooking.

Most of the characters in the Connoll Pack series, which is a spin-off of Camp H.O.W.L. set in New York, are some sort of Supernatural being. You’ll have to read the book to find out if our celebrity chef is one, too.

Blurb:

Stealing His Heart

A Camp H.O.W.L. Novel

Connoll Pack series 1


Love sneaks in like a thief in the night.

Danny’s parents raised him to believe his wolf was a curse. He’s part of the wealthy and powerful Connoll Pack, but only nominally. He abandoned that world to volunteer with supernatural kids, and he isn’t looking for a mate….

Max is a shifter who is also a detective. He’s working a case that could make or break his career. Danny’s caught up in the case he’s on, and he’s also irresistible. They’re a bad match—Max, an Alpha having trouble with his new powers and Danny, who trusts Alphas as far as he could throw one. But they can’t get enough of each other, and they might bond before they even see it coming.

They could be amazing together, but they have to get past a few obstacles—especially since someone close to Danny might be involved in the thefts Max is investigating.

Excerpt

Stealing His Heart, by Bru Baker

“You might get hungry later,” Ina said, pressing a box full of Tupperware containers into Max’s hands.

He didn’t see how that was possible. Her clambake fed two hundred, and no one went hungry. Max had eaten his fill and then some. Ina rented dozens of picnic tables and covered them all in huge sheets of parchment, and the easy atmosphere meant Max didn’t have to worry about eating his lobster the right way. Danny, Sloane, and Ina had all circulated, helping the Janus Foundation kids who’d never seen a clambake before. It hadn’t been like any of the fundraisers Max had attended with the Cresswells.

For starters, everyone had been wearing tacky plastic bibs with lobsters on them—and they’d loved it. Mrs. Cresswell hired a band, and the entire afternoon had been full of food, music, and yard games. The kids loved it, and so did Max.

“I don’t know if we have room for all this on the boat,” Max said, eyeing the box.

Ina waved off his concern. “Three shifters, two Weres, and a teenage selkie? You’ll eat it before you go to bed tonight.”

That was probably true. Ray and Tori were coming to spend the night, and Max and Danny were taking Joss out for a weekend sail after they left in the morning. Well, the captain was taking the boat for a sail. Max knew nothing about sailing, but the Cresswells’ yacht had a full crew.

“There’s an extra serving of pavlova in there too,” Ina said with a wink. “Something for you and Danny to nibble on as a midnight snack. I remember how insatiable new mates are. Did you know my husband is a werewolf? Back when we bonded, J—”

Max bent down and kissed her on the cheek to cut her off. He liked her husband, and he wanted to continue to be able to look him in the eye.

“Thank you for everything, Ina. Next time you’re in the city, you should come by. The Torres family lumpia recipe is the best you’ll ever taste. We’d love to have you.”

Ina clapped her hands together. “That sounds fantastic.”

Sloane shouted for him from the car, and Max apologized as he rushed out the door. Tori raised an eyebrow when she saw the box but obligingly took it and rested it on her knees while he climbed in.

“Finally,” Sloane said as Ray started the SUV. “I adore Ina, but she’s a talker.”

“She’s lovely,” Tori said. “And the food was amazing.”

“It always is,” Danny said from the passenger seat where he was squeezed in with Joss. “Remember the time we spent Thanksgiving there, Sloane?”

“Everything had at least two sticks of butter in it and tasted like angel tears and unicorns,” she said dreamily.

Dreamspinner Press, release date March 5, 2019

About the Author

Bru Baker writes sophisticated gay romantic fiction with strong characters, real-world problems, and plenty of humor.

Bru 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. 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.

Release Blitz for Broken by Colette Davison (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Broken

Author: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Colette Davison

Genre/s: MM Contemporary Romance

Heat Rating:  4 flames     

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P67CNDK/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07P67CNDK/

Blurb

Rule #1: Keep running.

Jag’s rules have kept him safe and free since he escaped conversion therapy, but that was before he walked into Heaven and Hell. A no-strings fling with the club owner, Michael, turns into so much more as Jag finds himself breaking one rule after another.

Michael hasn’t been able to commit to anyone since his partner died, until Jag walks into his club. Falling in lust with the elfin young dancer is easy, and his heart is quick to follow.

Michael gives Jag a reason to stay, but fear rules Jag’s heart more than love. Despite his deepening feelings for Michael, Jag knows he can’t stay. Can he?

**Contains adult themes, content, and language.**

Broken will be available for 99c/99p from March 5 – 7

Excerpt

“I need to say a few things,” Michael said, pausing as he felt Jag stiffen. “I need to be honest with you.”

“No.” Jag’s hand pressed against Michael’s mouth, no doubt transferring silver smudges to his lips. “I’m happy with the lie you told me last night.”

Well, at least Michael knew he definitely hadn’t fooled Jag. Gently, he moved Jag’s hand away from his mouth. His hand became coated in a sparkling silver sheen.

“I’m not.”

Jag clenched his teeth.

“I care about you,” Michael said. “And I can’t pretend otherwise.”

“You don’t know me,” Jag hissed.

“Don’t I?”

Jag became even more rigid, his muscles so hard beneath Michael’s fingers he felt like a statue as well as looking like one.

“I don’t have to know about your past to know who you are now.”

About the Author 

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub

Goodreads

Instagram

Mailing List

Giveaway 

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$10 Amazon gift card OR a signed paperback copy of Broken (winner’s choice)

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On Review Tour with Murder at Oakschott Hall by Jim Austen

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Cover Design: Reese Dante

Length: 50,000 words approx.

Blurb

They have eyes for each other. But someone is eyeing them for murder. An erotic gay romance mystery.

In the Junior students’ dormitory at Oakschott Hall, a heavy gaslight falls from the ceiling, crushing the head of a student sleeping beneath it. Was it simply a tragic accident? To avoid publicity, the Headmaster asks Colin Revell, a young Oxford University graduate and former Oakschott student, to quietly investigate.

While interviewing the faculty and staff, Colin meets Max Lambourne, a handsome don who was wounded and gassed in WWI. When Colin tries to help Max overcome his trauma and depression, the two men fall in love and begin an erotic affair.

But when another student dies—diving at night into an empty swimming pool—murder is suspected. Students and faculty all come under suspicion, and rumors proliferate when Scotland Yard intervenes. Meanwhile, during all this confusion and wild theories, the murderer sees Colin and Max as threats. Unbeknownst to the two lovers, their lives are now in danger.

Author Bio

Born in 1984, Jim Austen grew up in Murphy, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with a degree in communications and journalism. He works as a news producer for a station in Rhode Island.

Jim lives south of Boston with his wife and two children. A bisexual husband, he ‘came out’ to his wife 10 years ago after the birth of their second child. “My marriage and my gay life,” he says, “have each given me moments of great joy. However, it is a myth to believe a bisexual husband has the best of both worlds.”

Murder at Oakschott Hall is his first M/M romance novel. Jim is currently working on a novel about a bisexual married man called The Unfinished Husband.

 

 

 

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