A MelanieM Review: The Husband Gambit by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Marry me for 1 year. Payment: $1.2 million.

Hayden Somerset is convinced the ad is a joke, but he responds anyway because, hello, $1.2 million. He’s broke, living in a tiny apartment with two roommates, and exhausted from praying his ancient car survives just one more week. His skyrocketing rent and crushing student loans aren’t helping either. At this point, there isn’t much Hayden wouldn’t do for that kind of cash.

The ad isn’t a joke. Jesse Ambrose is absolutely serious. His father, the charismatic patriarch of a powerful Hollywood dynasty, has his eye on politics, and he’s counting on California’s liberals and progressives to elect him. But Jesse knows what his father believes when cameras and voters aren’t around. As the election looms, he’ll do anything to force the man’s hand and show the public who Isaac Ambrose really is.

Anything, including marrying a stranger so his father will make good on his promise to disown Jesse if he ever takes a husband.

Now he just has to wait for his father to take the bait… and try not to accidentally fall in love with his fake husband.

The fake marriage/rent a spouse theme is a popular trope in romance whether it be het or LGBT, contemporary or historic.  So I’m always interested in how a author can give it their own twist, freshen it up a bit.  The usual path is the the one main character needs to be married in order to collect own their inheritance/title/mega billions. So I was appreciative of the fact that LA Witt took the opposite direction in The Husband Gambit.

Here Jesse Ambrose is using it to foil his toxic father’s political ambitions by forcing his father to reveal his own hatred of his son and the LGBT community by this act.  The ploy sounds simplistic but Witt makes it anything but with the creation of a dynasty so foul, complex, and brutal to it’s young that you bleed for them. You get involved in their lives through the character of Jesse, a decent human being brought up entirely too rich but with wonderful instincts about right and wrong.  The ad he places leads him to the wonderful Hayden Somerset, poor, highly educated actor, on the edge of making a $20 decision between groceries and gas.

Both men are terrific.  The characters come across as real, layered with personal baggage, family problems, and personalities that would  appear different and yet, both endearing in  ways that the reader can connect with.  Witt balances the drama the naturally springs up around them because of the plans to take down Jesse’s father causes increasing amounts of deceptions and the ones they must confront between themselves when each realizes their feelings for each other is real.

Another element I thought was especially well done was the emotional impact of this entire “gambit” upon Jesse.  The cost isn’t frivolous, the loss of family (even this one) not taken lightly, and the increasing punch to the heart pain we see Jesse take throughout the story is something the reader will feel with him as well.  it’s realistic as is the manner in which he finally has to cope with it’s damage done to him.

The relationship and romance between the men is sexy, warm, and, well, everything you want in a romance.  Plus you will love so many of the secondary characters here including Hayden’s  roommates and Alex, Jesse’s younger brother.

In short, I loved this new take on an old trope.  It was refreshing, lovely, romantic, and a terrific read.  One I highly recommend.  Looking for a new contemporary romance ?  Look no further than The Husband Gambit by LA Witt.

Cover art: L.A. Witt.  I liked this cover.  Eye catching, bold, while it doesn’t convey that it’s a romance novel, it gets the feeling just right.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 489 pages
Published November 15th 2018
ASINB07K2ZDZDZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Other Editions
None found

A MelanieM Review: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Every time something goes missing from the village, Sir Violet makes his way to the dragon’s cave and negotiates the item’s return. It’s annoying, but at least the dragon is polite.

But when the dragon steals a person, that’s a step too far. As Sir Violet ventures out to get the missing baker back, however, he quickly realizes things are not at all what they seem..

Ever read a story that made your heart smile? That left you feeling warm, happy, and with an urge to read it out loud to someone?  Children, adults?  Just because you wanted to spread the joy a special tale had given you?  Well, The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen  is that story.

After I finished it, I wanted to grab onto the author and publishers and beg them to put it out in a hardback version, complete with illustrations.  One I could pick up and read to groups of children, no matter the age or even adults for that matter.

This book is charming, adventurous, and brings out the best in it’s characters.  Perhaps in its readers as well because it speaks to the heart in a gentle, kind, and  humorous way.  It has a dragon that steals things because it’s lonely and wants companionship. And just maybe  because certain things strike it as pretty or downright hilarious.  It has a knight named Sir Violet who’s nature is gentle and home loving.  And a village that suits them both.  I mean really, it’s full of characters who are absolutely a delight to spend time with (as you will) and whose lives will pique your interest (oh yes, they do).

I can’t remember reading any novelette I loved more recently.

I need to find more stories by this author.  This story is beautifully written, concise, and yet it flows just as it should.  The characterizations are perfect for the story.  Would I mind a return?  No.  Do I need one? No.  I think its marvelous as it.

Do you love fantasy?  Here’s a jewel you shouldn’t miss out on.  There is a romance but not the one you might be thinking of. Definitely no sex.  I told you I would read this to children.  There is a F/F couple, a dragon and knight to die for and so much more.  I highly recommend  The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen.  

Cover art:  Kirby Crow.  I love it.  It’s perfect really for the tone of the story.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 94 pages
Expected publication: May 16th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312863
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: One Under (Porthkennack #9) by J.L. Merrow

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

London Underground worker Mal Thomas is staying in Porthkennack to recover from a traumatic experience. Getting some more bad news from home is the last straw—until big, blond museum curator Jory Roscarrock steps up to offer some comfort.

A doctor of English Literature, Jory should be in a prestigious post at a top university. But a youthful indiscretion has led him to abandon academia to come back to his home town, Porthkennack, and the controlling family he’s never really felt a part of. He’s delighted to find a kindred spirit in the young Londoner.

But Jory’s family hurt Mal’s best friend deeply, and while Jory’s desperate to repair the damage, his own mistakes threaten to keep them apart. Meanwhile Mal’s torn between his feelings for Jory and his duty to his friend—and his fears that a failed relationship could be more than his shattered confidence can take.

The Porthkennack universe is one that I deeply love.  A seaside small town in Cornwall, with a long history of smuggling and sea bourne carnage in its past, it’s behind the facade of the pleasant shops, pubs, and yes, even a museum or two, the stories here show that some haven’t entirely left that way of life behind.  With each new tale, some historic, most not, the town’s people, the culture of the place, the “society’, and the dynamics continue to unfold.  Aren’t’ we lucky!

In One Under by JL Merrow, the angst driven characters are Mal Thomas and Dr. Jory Roscarrock, each with elements in their past their are trying to recover from and move past.  For Mal, his are far more recent.  A man committed suicide in front of the underground train he was driving and it’s left him traumatized, unable even to get into a car.    For Jory, it’s his family and their past.  From a father who committed suicide, a mother’s death, to older siblings who seem to hate him and relationships that don’t work out, his issues too seem buried in his past.

I love these men, especially Mal.  What a wounded soul he is.  And Jory too, a solid, intellectual giant who is so clueless at times you wish you could shake him.  I thought the characterizations were terrific.  Mal as the traumatized train driver suffering from PTSD was easily a sympathetic figure.  His “dithering about” his relationship with Jory over it’s impact on his best friend honestly irritated most of the time.  You wished the communication was far better between these two men.  However, taken into consideration the mental and emotional state of Mal, I kept coming back to the idea that anyone who was suffering from PTSD as bad as he was and in the shaky emotional frame of mind, wasn’t going to be making the most rational of decisions.  So yes, perhaps, Merrow was (whether I liked it or not) right on target here too.

Same goes for Jory, his relationship with his frankly appalling older siblings and his willingness to remain static in parts of his life.  Odd but again  given his weird background, perhaps not.  It takes these two men coming together to get them moving forward again in both of their lives,  first separately and then finally as a couple.

 

Cover by: Garrett Leigh.  The covers by Garrett Leigh are amazing.  From the composition to the color tone, she captures the heart of the characters and the location.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 249 pages
Expected publication: March 19th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleOne Under
ISBN 1626496862 (ISBN13: 9781626496866)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Porthkennack #9

A MelanieM Release Day Review: 415 Ink: Rebel by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.

Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.

Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.

For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.

When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.

415 Ink: Rebel launches the start of another series by Rhys Ford in stunning style.  A second chance at love story, full of wounded, life-damaged men in search of love and HEA, 415 Ink: Rebel is exactly why I eagerly await each new release by this author. It’s full of people whose lives are easy to fall into, in this case Gus Scott, a wandering tattoo artist returning home after a two and a half year absence with startling news.  Due to one nightmarish breakup and a drunken night years ago, he’s just now learned he’s a father.  Something a gay man is astonished to hear.  And he wants to be a part of his son’s life.

As with most of Rhys Ford’s characters, there’s layers upon layers to Gus Scott and the men he calls family, a group of men tattooed, laden with their own issues, including a past history with Gus burdened with pain and misunderstandings.  To say he’s returning home to a mixed welcome is understated.

As the story unfolds and Gus reveals the news behind his return from his travels, Ford weaves the reader into the emotional fabric of these men and their universe.  We feel Gus’ pain when he finds out he’s a father, his desire to be a part of Chris’ life, the history that led up to Chris’ existence, all mired in one bad decision and breakup that’s casting reverberations still.  It’s nigh to impossible to remain unmoved by this story, especially when all involved want what’s best for Chris.  No “nasty mom or mother’s parents” to be found here.  Instead it’s a refreshing change of responsible adults working together in the best interests of a child.

Yes, this is an emotional journey and not just for Gus and Rey, but for all in the house as they also work to help provide support for Gus and Chris.  Due to Rhys Ford’s superb characters, vivid scenes, and dramatic narrative, I not only felt a part of their lives but believed in them absolutely.

What do you get with a Rhys Ford story?  Men to love, broken hearts in need of mending, extended families giving support, and more romance and angst to overflow any tale….all that and more superbly done.  I’ll leave you with this…

“I’m sorry I wasn’t what you wanted me to be, but you know what? You weren’t what I needed either, even if you were all I wanted.”

Sigh.  Now to wait for the next in the series.  Until then, pick up 415 Ink: Rebel by Rhys Ford.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  Another great cover by Reece Notley.  That’s exactly my  idea of Gus.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: December 29th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803848
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series 415 Ink #1

A MelanieM Review: Why I Left You by Colette Davison

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Brett has fooled himself into thinking he’s happy in his dead-end job. His idea of commitment is a string of quick hook-ups, which never last a whole night.

Jamie left home to prove he could cope alone, without the suffocating support of his parents. But instead of finding freedom, he’s struggling with university, money, and depression.

Drawn together by an undeniable spark, their relationship won’t survive the present, unless they can come to terms with the past.

Why I Left You by Colette Davison has a much deeper, complicated storyline than indicated by that short synopsis.  Well written and layered, Why I Left You deals with the more serious themes of depression, the impact of media use and teenagers, and suicide.  That the discussions for these topics are framed out around a halted romance between Brett and Jamie works beautifully to deliver an emotional punch as well as let the reader into some of the issues that a person with depression deals with on a daily basis.

By necessity Why I Left You is told from both the pov of Jamie and Brett because at the beginning the question of what exactly is wrong with Jamie is up in the air.  You are as in the dark as Brett.  Then the author moves  us through Jamie’s thoughts and actions and it quickly becomes clear.  For Brett?  It takes longer.

At times this will be a tough book to read.  If suicide and depression are triggers for you, you might reconsider reading this story.  I will say that Colette Davison treats  Jamie’s depression responsibly, complete with doctors and a treatment that includes medication over a long term and no instant cure.

Where does this leave the romance?  Still smack in the middle as both Brett and Jamie try to reconnect and figure out  what it all means.  Again a nice realistic and authentic relationship.  The book  ends on a wonderful note of hope and love and so much promise of the future for them both, especially after what the past held.

I loved Why I Left You by Colette Davison and recommend it.

Cover art by Charlotte LR Kane is fitting for the storyline and eye catching.

Sales Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 234 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Smudged Ink Press
Original TitleWhy I Left You
ASINB076YYXFNP
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Gryphon King’s Consort by Jenn Burke

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Love takes flight.

The sudden death of the Gryphon King throws the kingdom of Mythos into uncertainty, and Crown Prince Luca rushes both his coronation and an arranged marriage to a man he’s never met. Eirian is young and idealistic, and while they both want what’s best for their people, their philosophies couldn’t be more different. While Luca believes in honoring tradition, Eirian is determined to infuse modern values into their kingdom of magical creatures. When given the choice between loyalty to his husband and his own crusade, Eirian makes a decision that might doom their marriage.

Still, Luca is committed to making their union work, and that means forgiving his brash consort. But when Eirian becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, Luca must act fast—or forever lose the chance to explore their burgeoning love.

I don’t honestly remember reading anything from Jenn Burke before but if The Gryphon King’s Consort is typical of the tales I can expect from this author, then I’m off to search for other stories to read.  It’s full of gryphons, all sorts of magical beasts, political intrigue, an arranged marriage, and happily, a romance that leads to a love that’s forever after. I mean these beings live a long, long time!

Be still my heart!

A story from Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Beyond line, Burke does a lovely job of laying down a complete alternate universe.  She delivers on the history of the hidden world of magical beasts revealing themselves to humans, the resultant wars and the peace accord that survives to present day.  Also the factions within the Mythos kingdom, the Modernists and the Traditionalists.  It’s a neat believable divide albeit complete with magical beasts (which I adore btw).  Also, a touch I appreciated is the connection a King has with his people.  It’s something I wish more heads of state had these days.  That scene was marvelously touching and pulled the reader further into Luca’s character and his new role as King.

Even the author’s take on gryphons and their ability to shift into different creatures is wonderful and used to great effect here within the storyline, along with all the other hosts of magical beasts/beings we meet here and the rituals or parts of their cultures that Jenn Burke has created for the story.

And all that serves as a foundation and stage for her two main characters, Luca and  Eirian (as well as some memorable secondary characters).  I felt both men/beings were so well done.  The story is told from both perspectives and works extremely well that way.  The reader can see what the emotional cost of an arranged marriage is as far as trust, lack of friendship, personal knowledge  and even missing simple comradeship can be between two people.  Especially when the affairs of state seem determined to keep them apart.

This is, quite simply, a slam bang fantasy romance!  One you can immerse yourself in and be quite startled at how quickly you’ve come to the end.  I loved it and was sorry to see it over.  If you are a lover of fantasy and romance, here’s a story for you!

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  I like the cover, definitely catches your eye.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Expected publication: December 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339208
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Unexpected Santa (The Sin Bin #5) by Dahlia Donovan

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Ratings: 4.5 stars out of 5

When a rugby bad boy butts heads with a retired Marine, which alpha male becomes top dog?

Scottie Monk came out of the womb angry at the world. He’s selfish and bitter. “Bah humbug!” rolls off his tongue far easier than “Happy Christmas.”

Gray Baird has dedicated his life to public service as a Marine Corps officer and later as a police chief. The decorated hero finds it impossible to ignore autistic twins in desperate need of holiday spirit. He’ll be the grumpiest Santa in the world if it puts a smile their faces. And he’ll drag a reluctant Scottie along for the ride.

This December, Gray and Scottie collide while unexpectedly playing Santa.

The Unexpected Santa (The Sin Bin #5) by Dahlia Donovan is more like a prelude to the next story, a setup really,  to the much anticipated full blown clash that’s coming between Scottie Monk and Gray Baird in The Lion Tamer.

However, taken within that context?  It’s a wonderful anticipatory delight of a short story.  For all of the previous four novels, Scottie Monk’s atrocious behavior within the close group of ex rugby players has gone from extremely annoying to using hate language, stalking,  and throwing punches.  He’s constantly drunk and when sober, his behavior is sometimes even worse.  One by one his former teammates and friends are excluding him from their circle and events.  His  reaction is anger and self pity.

I’ve wondered what Dahlia Donovan was going to do with Scottie.  An unflattering character in the first book, he’s progressed to a horror of self indulgence and denial, certainly not someone a reader could connect with.  When we last saw him, he was being thrown out of a wedding by Gray Baird (laughing…yes love that  name).  The Unexpected Santa picks up directly after that incident.

The autistic twins in the story come from The Royal Marine (The Sin Bin #4, one of my favorites in the series.  They worked then for Akash Robinson, a baker. It’s he who is marrying his former marine, Hamish Ross, friend of Gray Baird.  Yes, the two groups are now deeply intertwined and no story within this series is a standalone.   Like a rich tapestry, the narrative threads run heavy through each tale and couple, twisting and twirling about, tugging the groups closer until they are forming a mesh of relationship dynamics that can’t really be separated out from one another.

Gray is a fascinating character, he has his hidden needs and has been wondering if he will fit in within this group and new location.  Once he sees Scottie Monk, Scottie’s pain, and his actions that seem a cry for stability as well as a cry for someone to take control of his life, well,  Gray responds to Scottie with his corresponding need to do just that. Yes, there will be hot kink involved…most likely in their story The Lion Tamer.  Again, this is just the beginning.

Here we start to see  just how badly messed up Scottie is and what has brought him to this state.  But it’s clear that for Scottie and Gray this is but the tantalizing first dance.  There are so many lovely scenes between Gray and the twins here, (they now work for Aled the Botanist).  The author contrasting the delicacy of paper cranes with the fragility of the twins.  In many ways it is a Christmas story.

The Unexpected Santa is a terrific Christmas prelude for all fans and readers of Dahlia Donovan’s The Sin Bin series.  It’s that delicious taste of what’s to come, combined with the sweetness and joy of the holiday season when the twins come into the picture.

I highly recommend this entire series.  I have listed them all at the bottom of the review.  Read them in the order they were written, enjoy the characters and the men they love.

Cover art by Claire Smith again works beautifully.  Love the coloration and the single snowflake that stands for the book.

Sales Links: Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published November 11th 2017 by Hot Tree Publishing
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Sin Bin #5

The Sin Bin Series:

1. The Wanderer – BC & Graham

2. The Caretaker – Tens & Freddie

3. The Botanist (short story) – Aled & Wyatt

4. The Royal Marine – Hamish & Akash

5 The Unexpected Santa (short story) – Gray & Scottie

6. The Lion Tamer – Gray & Scottie

7. The Haka Ever After (short story) – Tens & Freddie

8. TBD – Zeb & Silus

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: An Open Window by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Two men. One Christmas Eve that changes the courses of both their lives.

Henry’s homeless and only wants a warm place to sleep on the coldest night of the year. A forgotten open window in a darkened house entices Henry inside with the promise of warmth and comfort. He knows it’s wrong, but he promises himself he’ll be out before the owner wakes on Christmas morning. Except he oversleeps and the homeowner, Jim, discovers a bearded stranger sawing logs under his dining room table. When the shock and the drama that ensues dies down, Henry and Jim discover that they might have found, quite unexpectedly, the Christmas miracle they’d both been longing for—love and home.

Short, heartbreakingly sweet,  and perfect for the holidays!  All that absolutely describes Rick R. Reed’s Christmas short story An Open Window.  The  author had me blubbering and reaching for the tissue box by the second paragraph and kept me sniffling all through this wonderful, heart tugging holiday romance.

It’s poignant, puts certain things into perspective and yet still leaves the reader enveloped in love and warm feelings and this couple with their HEA.  I definitely recommend you put this on  your  Christmas list of stories to read, but make sure you add a packet or two of tissues to go along with it.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  It’s the  2017 Advent Stocking Stuffer Overall Cover filled with humor and good cheer!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 21 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781640803503
Edition Language English

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 MelanieM Review: Deceived by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Five stories of men and the secrets and lies that shape their lives…

Deceived—The hatred between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae is well-known, and the source of much gossip at court. Each one too stubborn to walk away, determined to make the other one the first to break, they spend their days fighting or ruthlessly ignoring one another. Determined to put an end to the matter once and for all, and to give the notoriously rakish Benedict a taste of his own medicine, Rae sets upon a deception only to realize that there is more than one deception afoot…

Scandalous—Gideon has led a very strict life since the death of his parents, determined not to live the scandalous life that led to their untimely demise and to bring up his little brother in a more stable home. Journeying home to settle the matter of a new tutor for his brother, Gideon is waylaid overnight by foul weather at an inn. He encounters a beautiful young man who is more temptation than he is able to resist, and Gideon impulsively decides that one night, with a complete stranger, cannot possibly come to any harm…

From Afar—Pierce has all that anyone could want in life—an adoring brother who raised him when their parents died, the fame and adoration from being an accomplished fencer, and the best friend a man could have. What he wants, however, is to know the identity of the person who leaves him ardent love letters and why his admirer will not step forward…

Lessons—There is very little that Jude has not tried or seen, and his shameless behavior has earned him the reputation as the most notorious rake in the city. The one thing he does not do, however, is innocents. Then he chances upon a young man late at night in the park, amused to learn the man is attempting to write a love letter of all things. When he learns that Crispin despairs of ever catching the eye of his love because he is too innocent to be appealing, Jude impulsively offers to teach him all that he needs to know…

The Highwayman—When he receives word that his home is being plagued by a highwayman, Bartholomew immediately sets off for the family estate to see to the matter. When he arrives home, however, he learns that very little is as he remembers it. Instead of one problem to solve, Bartholomew finds himself contending with a highwayman, a murderer, strangers, and an old friend who is nothing like the boy he grew up with…

I love this collection of stories each linked together by location and primarily characters, flowing easily from one to the other.  Arranged in perfect order, they build like a 3-star Michelin food experience with Megan Derr, the chef with all the prime ingredients and exquisite recipes.

Here are my thoughts on each.

Deceived – This is a enemies to lovers story between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae. Each day is spend trying to force the other to quit/fire him based on the false assumptions each has allowed to accumulate over the years about the other.  Until an upcoming masked ball changes everything.  With the ability to hide behind gorgeous masks, their true personalities draw the men together. That and their shared love of fragrances.  This is a wonderful story and a sensual one as well.  I love the element of perfumes woven throughout.  5 stars.

Scandalous – Gideon is on his way home to his estate and his young brother when he’s waylaid by a storm and a night of hot sex with a delightful stranger. So many things to love about this story.  There’s a fencing scene with where a lonely Gideon is caught ‘dancing’ with his shadow, the younger brother yearning for his older brother’s love and approval, and of course, a love story as well.  So charming.  And from this story we get to see the younger brother grown and looking for love in From Afar.  5 stars

From Afar – Pierce has all that anyone could want in life—an adoring brother who raised him when their parents died, the fame and adoration from being an accomplished fencer, and the best friend a man could have. What he wants, however, is to know the identity of the person who leaves him ardent love letters and why his admirer will not step forward.  I liked seeing Pierce all grown up as well as Gideon and Tem too.  This is probably the the story with the least depth.  The admirer is easily identified,  although I liked the poem aspect.  4 stars.

Lessons – This is  absolutely perfect.  A Rake who takes on an innocent who needs lessons in love because he wants to snare the attention of the man he loves.  The story builds just the way you want it too, as does the love Jude starts to feel toward Crispin, something he’s totally unprepared to feel.  Just a terrific story, one to give you butterflies, along with that great ending.  5 stars.

The Highwayman –  Bartholomew, older brother to Crispin and all around family meddler, decides  that he has to take charge of the situation when he hears that a Highwayman is working the area around the family estate.  Once at the estate, after years away, Bart realizes that nothing is as he remembered it and perhaps there are more problems than he anticipated.  He’s got a highwayman, a murderer, strangers, and an old friend who is nothing like the boy he grew up with.  This is the longest story of them all and easily the most complicated in every way.  The relationship dynamics, the convoluted plots,  and the tricky resolution.  It is also the most satisfying.  A great way to end the collection.  5 stars plus.

 

Cover art by Aisha Akeju is dark and hard to see.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 225 pages
Published October 26th 2011 by Less Than Three Press (first published May 21st 2008)
Original TitleRegency
ISBN139781936202324
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Deceived #1