A Jeri Release Day Review: Roses in the Devil’s Garden (Fallen Rose #1) by Charlie Cochet

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

As a big Charlie Cochet fan, I was eager to read the first of a new series coming from her. And this is both very different, and in some ways quite a bit the same as her THIRDS series.

This is a VERY short primer to what I assume is a series coming out. Set during Prohibition, the story follows Harlan and Nathan- best friends, lovers and detectives in the Prohibition unit. There is pretty much no such thing as an “out” gay man, but within clubs and speakeasies, it is often overlooked.
Honestly, there isn’t a ton here to review. I will say it is a good set up and I definitely want more. Ms Cochet writes seamlessly with 20’s era lingo and style. There were a few things that I questioned, but I am hoping more comes to light with the next book(s).

The cover art by Aaron Anderson is another winner by this artist and works for the story and characters.

Sale Links: DreamspinnerAmazon | Nook

ebook, 67 pages
Published: April 6, 2018, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781640802346
Edition Language: English

Series: Fallen Rose

Book #1: Roses in the Devil’s Garden

Release Day Blitz for Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Pirates! The name alone conjures up swashbuckling adventure and a thrilling life on the high seas. No wonder they are a well loved romantic hero. Being swept away by a pirate captain, rescuing you from the monotony of daily life is a lovely way to escape reality for a while.

This image has endured through the centuries, and later enhanced on film and screen. Pirates might have been blood thirsty scoundrels, but in a romance novel or film we’re hoping for a hero who is a bad boy with a heart of gold, or a dark past, that has driven a good man to his dastardly trade.

Pirates have long had a fascination for me, and smugglers too (but you can blame that on me being the daughter of a Cornishman). So when I first started to try to get my writing published, an anthology for pirate themed stories caught my eye and I wrote the original short story version of Captain Merric. Since then I’ve enjoyed writing many other things, but when I got my rights back it felt a shame to leave Captain Merric on my hard drive.

My initial thoughts were a quick edit and self-publish as a cheap short, but my love of writing historicals has also grown over the years and so Captain Merric got a complete rewrite, including more details of the period (early Georgian 1718). An extra 43K words later and the larger than life Captain Merric, and his stubborn Royal Navy officer will-he-won’t-he-be-lover, Daniel Horton, re-emerged.

I hope you enjoy this tale of a brooding hero, second chances with a pirate and naval officer, and their fight to get their happy ending. Drop a comment below to tell me why you love pirates and be entered into the giveaway to win a copy of an ebook from my backlist (excluding the Crofton Chronicles bundle).


Excerpt


Daniel struggled to his knees, looking up to get a view of the pirate. The sun must have affected him more than he had thought, and the figure that stood before him had to be an illusion. The face was older, and now had a beard, but belonged to that of a man who had died over fifteen years ago.He shook his head to clear his sight, but it didn’t change the vision towering over him. “I am seeing ghosts.”One of the pirates snorted. “The captain’s many things, but a ghost ain’t one of them.”Daniel blinked rapidly, but still the man he’d grieved for, a man he had once loved, stood in front of him. He could barely breathe, his heart pounding so loudly he couldn’t hear himself think or believe his own eyes. He tried to chase away the image, but he was not mistaken. The confusion bled away and was replaced by a disturbing reality. Edward Merriston was alive and well, playing pirates in the Caribbean, when Daniel had thought him lost to shipwreck all those years ago.Edward had always been tall and broad, but his time at sea had made him stronger, and the sun had bleached his long hair so it was blonder than Daniel remembered, making his blue eyes even more striking.“You’re meant to be dead,” were all the words he could manage.

Edward’s eyes widened, and a look of disbelief flashed across his face. “You’re not the first one to have said that and won’t be the last to wish it.”

 
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

A tale of pirates, lost love, and the fight for a happy ending.


After he’s set adrift and left to die by his mutinous crew, the last person Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton expects to come to his rescue is Captain Merric. An infamous pirate, Merric is known as much for stealing his victims’ hearts as their jewels. Daniel’s world is about to be turned upside down when he recognises Captain Merric as none other than Edward Merriston, someone he thought he’d never see again.
Edward can’t believe Daniel Horton is aboard his ship. While Edward is willing to do anything he can to get a second chance at their happy ending, Daniel isn’t interested in digging up the past. But Daniel is one priceless treasure Captain Merric isn’t about to let go of without a fight.


Captain Merric first appeared as short story in a pirate-themed anthology. Now completely rewritten and extended he is ready to set sail again.



April 6 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
April 9 – Open Mind For A Different View
April 10 – The Novel Approach
April 11 – Cupcakes & Bookshelves, Making It Happen
April 12 – Diverse Reader
April 13 – Two Chicks Obsessed
April 14 – MM Good Book Reviews
April 16 – My Booked Filled Life, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Velvetpanic, BooksLaidBareBoys, Bayou Book Junkie
April 17 – Love Bytes

 

Author Bio


Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.


Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710
Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

Giveaway

Giveaway: Drop a comment below to tell me why you love pirates and be entered into the giveaway to win a copy of an ebook from my backlist (excluding the Crofton Chronicles bundle). (Revised)

 

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

Release Blitz and Giveaway for Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen

Standard

 

 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Blurb



A tale of pirates, lost love, and the fight for a happy ending.


After he’s set adrift and left to die by his mutinous crew, the last person Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton expects to come to his rescue is Captain Merric. An infamous pirate, Merric is known as much for stealing his victims’ hearts as their jewels. Daniel’s world is about to be turned upside down when he recognises Captain Merric as none other than Edward Merriston, someone he thought he’d never see again.
Edward can’t believe Daniel Horton is aboard his ship. While Edward is willing to do anything he can to get a second chance at their happy ending, Daniel isn’t interested in digging up the past. But Daniel is one priceless treasure Captain Merric isn’t about to let go of without a fight.


Captain Merric first appeared as short story in a pirate-themed anthology. Now completely rewritten and extended he is ready to set sail again.

 

Author Bio


Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.


Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710
Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

Giveaway: Drop a comment below to tell me why you love pirates and be entered into the giveaway to win a copy of an ebook from my backlist (excluding the Crofton Chronicles bundle).

 

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

A Lila Review : Of Hope and Anguish(Revolutionaries #2) by Silvia Violet

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

What they say this book’s all about?

Jack and Eli have been separated for months while Jack gathers intelligence in Philadelphia and Eli spies on British officers in New York. When Jack has to take on the role of spymaster and work behind-the-scenes, Eli offers to insinuate himself in Philadelphia’s loyalist circles, taking Jack’s place.

As Eli works to uncover traitorous negotiations between a high-ranking American officer and the British, he cozies up to British spymaster John Andre. Jack doesn’t like Eli putting himself at risk, nor does he like seeing him fawning over a beautiful, charming man.

As the chances of the American army surviving the winter decline, tensions mount between Jack and Eli, threatening to tear them apart. They will have to rely on their love and trust for one another to make it through these harrowing months.

Of Hope and Anguish brings the American Revolution to another level. It starts shortly after Revolutionary Temptation and it’s more interesting and intriguing than its predecessor. We get to experience more of everything, romance, action, spies, and much more.

The literary fiction element in this story is also present. I really appreciated the way the author added her characters to Revolutionary times. It’s definitely more engaging than what we learned in high school. All details are relevant and mixed with reality to create a well-crafted book.

There’s a better balance between romance and fiction in this second book. Perhaps because we now know the characters, settings, etc. and can dive into the overall content. We get to see Eli and Jack grow as a couple and we get to understand the decisions they take, not only for the country but for their new-found love. Also, Constance gets a bit of happiness in this story that added to the plot. Even the villains are an integral part.

Just like before, the pace in this book is fast, entertaining, and leaves the reader looking for more. The book does have a fulfilling ending but it leaves us with enough to look forward to the next book. One of those exceptions when the second book is better than the first one.

Just like the previous cover by Meredith Russell, this one fits the story and the characterization of Eli & Jack.

Sale Links: Smashwords | Amazon Payhip

ebook, 218 pages
Published: March 5, 2018, Silvia Violet Books
ISBN: 1984134361
Edition Language: English

Series: Revolutionaries

Book #1: Revolutionary Temptation

Book #2: Of Hope and Anguish

A Free Dreamer Review: Finding Sanctuary (The Hampton Road Club #6) by Morticia Knight

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Francesco might not know a thing about being a submissive, but for Master Theo—he’d be willing to learn anything.

Living on the streets of 1920s Los Angeles and pleasuring men in dark alleys for his survival is not how Francesco had thought his life would turn out. But he’s filled with hope that someday—if he learns how to be a respectable fellow—he can make a home for himself and maybe even find a man he really cares for who also cares for him. In the meantime, he hustles to get by and looks for the good where he can find it.

Theo’s existence is safe and predictable. He indulges in his perverse nature at his friend Saul’s sadomasochism club on Hampton Road and negotiates contracts for the Hollywood players and studios. When an enticing little grifter crosses his path one day, the encounter unnerves him. Not because he gets conned, but because the refreshingly open and unaffected young man holds a mirror up to Theo’s own dreary existence. Theo might have plenty of material wealth, but his wealth of spirit can’t compare to the delightful Francesco’s.

Theo rescues Francesco from a dire situation and brings him home. If nothing else, he can at least find the desperate young man some decent employment. Instead, they both find themselves increasingly drawn to each other. But until Theo introduces Francesco to what being a submissive means, he doesn’t dare give his heart away. Francesco has yet to discover the secrets that are hidden behind the walls of the Hampton Road Club.

Publisher’s Note: This book is best read in sequence as part of the Hampton Road Club series. This instalment is a prequel to book one and can be read first.

Review: “Finding Sanctuary” ticked a lot of boxes for me: It’s set during the prohibition, it has BDSM and a homeless character. So I expected great things, which the book couldn’t quite deliver.

First of all, this is the first book of the series I’ve read and it definitely works without the other parts, as this is some sort of prequel to book one. So you can definitely start your journey with “Finding Sanctuary”.

My biggest issue with this book was Francesco. He was just way too sweet and innocent. He’s been living on the streets for several years and has been through a lot even before then. It just seemed extremely unrealistic for him to be so very nice after all that’s happened to him. He was extremely trusting and naive and it got a bit annoying after a while. I didn’t particularly like him.

Other than that, the story was nice. There was no huge conflict and the few troubles that did pop up got resolved without much fanfare. I’d hoped for a more historical feeling to the overall setting, but I didn’t get much of that. The love story wasn’t very spectacular either. It was pretty much love at first sight and a relatively smooth road from then on.

Overall, “Finding Sanctuary” was just too fluffy and cute for me. There wasn’t much depth to the whole plot and I didn’t particularly like Francesco. It just wasn’t what I expected and felt kind of toothless. I’ve had similar issues with other books by the author, so I guess we just don’t click. Her books aren’t bad by any means, they’re just not for me.

If you’re looking for a sweet, light read, then you’ll probably enjoy this book. The BDSM elements weren’t too intense, so you don’t need to worry about that either.

The cover by Posh Gosh looks nice, though the naked cover model definitely doesn’t fit the description of Francesco. He’s way too muscular for that.

Buy Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 135 pages

Published October 10th 2017 by Pride Publishing

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Station by Keira Andrews

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

It’s the mid 1800s and Colin Lancaster is being groomed to attend Cambridge and then come back to his family’s estate to take his rightful place.  But Colin has a secret—he wants to be like the family’s stablemaster, Patrick Callahan, and not for his care of horses.  Colin spied Patrick years earlier as Patrick mounted another man, and ever since then, Colin has dreamed of the same happening to him.

When Patrick is caught with his pants down, Colin’s father has no choice but to condemn him to death—the punishment for sodomy.  But Colin intervenes, declaring himself as a sodomite and circumstances shift quickly.  Both Colin and Patrick are given a reprieve of sorts, and instead of death, they are sentenced to serve their time in Australia.  After an amazingly difficult sea voyage, during which Patrick survives typhoid due to Colin’s care, they are assigned to a widow who is heading inland to claim the land she and her husband purchased sight unseen. 

This story is very rich in description of the Australian outback, so much so, that it was very easy to picture the conditions under which Colin became a stockman, learning to ride and rope, and later, learning to appreciate his new life circumstances.  Patrick, on the other hand, resented being there and did not want to find the positives about the experience.  He had resisted Colin on all fronts, until finally giving in and having sex with the younger man on shipboard, and later again in Australia, when they found opportunities to slip away from the others. 

Patrick was the antihero in this story and not interested in romance at all, so it was difficult to like his character, and it was, therefore, difficult to label this a romance.  The story was more of a sexual conquest with a lot of romantic angst on Colin’s part but quite a bit of indifference and simple sexual need on Patrick’s part. 

There were also a few difficult-to-believe circumstances. Okay, there were a lot of difficult-to-believe circumstances and plot points—everything from the widow who drove three men and 500 herd of cattle onto land they’d never seen through a hostile neighbor’s property to their own—property marked by a simple red rag on a stick. Hypothetically, if the neighbor who owned a mega property didn’t really want them there—and we learn later that he didn’t—couldn’t he have yanked that rag off the stick? 

Then there was the issue of Colin’s and Patrick’s status as criminals, or not, and more issues related to the widow and Robbie, the other stockman.  I’m trying to be vague here so I don’t give away plot points, but the reality for me was that the story veered quite a bit from the realism I expected. And though I know this is fiction, I had to suspend belief quite a few times in the latter part of the story.  Or perhaps I’m too much of a skeptic. 

In any event, I loved Colin’s character, his joie de vivre, his persistent positive attitude, and appreciation for the land.  Loyal and steadfast, he never veered from his heart’s desire.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Patrick.   So, although I enjoyed the story, I didn’t enjoy it as much as previous stories from this author, and that was disappointing. 

I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical romance and those who appreciate a story set in Australia during the time of the early settlers. But I caution this author’s followers, who like me, may have been expecting another Semper Fi or Beyond the Sea.  This one isn’t it.

~~~

Cover art by Dar Albert features a sexy stockman standing in front of a grassy area populated by kangaroos, with a semi-transparent face superimposed over the background sky.  This must represent Patrick as the stockman and Colin as the face in the background.  Definitely not my favorite cover, I think it would have been better without that extra superimposed face.   

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2nd Edition, 188 pages
Published January 18th 2018 by KA Books (first published October 5th 2010)
Original TitleThe Station
ASINB078Z2T6XM
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Review: The Law of Love by Fyn Alexander

Standard

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Ugh, I think this book hit every single button I have for things I dislike in a book – some of these are personal reasons that may not apply to everyone, so keep that in mind as you read this review…

Rafe Devonish is a member of the gentry, and though not titled, he has a manor house, lands, tenants, and a position to uphold in society.  He is also a successful barrister, with a clear sense of right and wrong, and he is a homosexual.  He hasn’t really figured out how to reconcile his orientation with the rest of his life, and has been delaying what he feels is going to be inevitable – getting married and having children.  Despite the time, there are a surprising number of people who are aware that he is gay, including his mother and the senior clerk at his law firm, and they both hound him to get married before people start suspecting his truth.

Ivo Manning (and really, what kind of name is that for a British noble?  To me the author overdid it with the names.  Rafe and Ivo?  Really?  But I digress…) is a young man from a titled family that has unfortunately fallen on hard financial times since The Great War.  He is the 10th son, and the family regards him as a waste of space, but he doesn’t want to embarrass them and so he sought legal counsel after being arrested for gross indecency, aka suspicion of homosexual behavior.  Rafe is the barrister he ended up coming to, and it was insta-love for both of them.

So begins a dance where Ivo consistently pursues Rafe, and Rafe alternately pursues and runs away from Ivo.  It got really old, really fast.  One of my pet peeves is too much inner monologue, especially when it is repetitive, and that is about all we hear from Rafe.  There was very little angst about actually being a homosexual, but he did certainly angst about how to avoid being found out.  He waffled, and yet every time he saw Ivo, he couldn’t help himself but did things that would absolutely cause scandal.  Including having sex in public.  Twice.  Both times witnessed.  Ivo being caught coming out of his room in the manor house after clearly spending the night.  Rafe was supposedly a very intelligent man, but his actions were more often that not in the “too stupid to live” category.

Ivo is a caricature.  He is younger, smaller, poorer, less experienced, less educated, and much less confident that Rafe.  He looks to Rafe to solve his every problem, always bottoms, and almost every time he is described, the word “lovely” is used.  This felt to me to be feminizing him in the worst way, a way that also degrades women.  Ivo does nothing to help either of them avoid detection.  He does discover compelling reasons why a woman whom Rafe is defending should be declared innocent of murder, but those reasons are so obvious that there is no way Rafe should have missed them in the first place.

*SPOILER*    *END SPOILER*

Normally I love historicals, and early 20th century is probably my favorite time period.  But to be authentic, the characters have to act like they actually live in that era.  To have modern views of homosexuality – that it is an inborn trait rather than a sign of mental illness, that it is natural, and should be accepted by any reasonable person, and homosexual relationships are just a matter of two consenting adults – in a setting where homosexual acts were unnatural at best and criminal at worst, just makes no sense.  Rafe and Ivo never felt that it was wrong to be gay, they just felt it was unfair that they couldn’t have an openly gay relationship.  I don’t think any gay man from this era would be so casually accepting of his orientation.

Well.  I have other complaints about the book, but I think I need to stop here.  If you like your romances to be heroic man and blushing damsel in distress, you may like this book, but for me it was a total fail.  I give it an extra half a point for good grammar and proofreading though.

Cover art by April Martinez is actually very good, probably the only thing I truly liked about the book.

Sales Links:  Loose id LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 225 pages
Published December 26th 2017 by Loose Id LLC
ASINB078382ZNH

Release Blitz – The Station by Keira Andrews (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Designs
 
Blurb

 

Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster spied on stable master Patrick Callahan mastering another man, he’s longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death for his crime, Colin speaks up in his defense and confesses his own sinful nature. They’re soon banished to the faraway prison colony of Australia.

Patrick never asked for Colin’s help, and now he’s stuck with the pampered fool. While it’s true that being transported to Australia is a far cry from the luxury Colin is accustomed to, he’s determined to make the best of it and prove himself. Although Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale, he’s inexorably drawn to sweet, optimistic Colin.

From the miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must rely on each other. Danger lurks everywhere, and when they unexpectedly get the chance to escape to a new life as cowboys, they’ll need each other more than ever.

This historical gay romance from Keira Andrews features an age difference,

 

Excerpt

 

Waiting only a moment after knocking, Colin’s mother, Elizabeth, entered his room. Colin glanced over from the window seat. He’d been watching Patrick in the meadow exercising the young colt born several days before. “Yes, Mother?”

Elizabeth was forty-two and quite beautiful, with a regal nose and posture and the same thick, chestnut brown hair as Colin. “You haven’t bathed yet? Guests will be arriving within the hour.”

“I was about to, if you’d leave me to my privacy.”

When he wasn’t studying or walking the grounds, Colin whiled away the hours sitting by his window reading novels of thrilling adventures in faraway lands. Sometimes Patrick would appear in the meadow, training the horses. Colin’s book would lie forgotten on his lap as he watched Patrick at work. He seemed as if he belonged in one of the fictional tales Colin devoured. Colin could easily imagine him with sword in hand.

“Of course, dear. I had Charles press your jacket. It’s hanging there.” She pointed across the room, where, sure enough, his formal wear waited. “Katherine was partial to that one, if I do recall.”

Colin couldn’t hold back a sigh. “Yes.”

“Darling, you gave up on Katherine far too easily. Tonight will be another chance for you to win her hand. You’re quite a catch, you know. Off to Cambridge soon. Katherine will want to ensnare you now.”

“Mother, Katherine Crawford has turned her favor elsewhere. She’s moved on.” So had he. Most definitely.

Elizabeth’s pretty face pinched into a frown. “It’s an honor that the Crawfords are attending this evening. You will be on your best behavior. I don’t know what exactly you did to ruin things with Katherine, but tonight you will do your utmost to undo it.”

“Yes, Mother.” He would attempt no such thing, but Colin had learned years before that arguing with his parents got him nowhere. Soon he’d be at Cambridge and he would be able to make his own decisions. Soon he’d have a new life.

Mollified, Elizabeth closed the door behind her. Flopping down on his bed, Colin thought of Katherine and cringed. It wasn’t until a most ill-fated outing with Katherine Crawford several months ago that Colin had admitted to himself that his interest in Patrick was far from intellectual.

Katherine was a beauty, all glossy blonde hair and moist, pink lips. For some reason Colin couldn’t fathom, she had shown an interest in him at a holiday gathering down the road. The courting had begun soon thereafter, with Colin escorting Katherine on various activities. Unlike William, who railed against the inconveniences of chaperones, Colin was grateful for the matrons’ presence.

He liked Katherine well enough. She was intelligent and kind and pleasing to look at. But Colin knew something was missing. Katherine didn’t set his blood on fire, and he rarely thought of her when she was absent.

The absences were as long as Colin could manage while still maintaining the guise of courting. He was a perfect gentleman at all times with Katherine, which he found a simple feat. William and his school chums all needled him in private and made winking suggestions of what was actually going on between him and Katherine, and Colin let them believe what they wanted.

The Lancasters and Crawfords had both been guests at a country estate for an Easter celebration. Colin’s sister, Rebecca, was delighted. On the ride over, she had chattered constantly about the beautiful Katherine and how she might one day be her sister-in-law. Colin loved his sister dearly but wished she’d find a new interest.

Colin had been fast asleep the first night at the country estate when Katherine crept into his room. Despite his protests about the impropriety, she’d insisted he dress and accompany her for a moonlight stroll. He hadn’t really a choice.

It went badly.

Despite Katherine’s obvious beauty and heaving bosom, Colin had remained utterly uninterested. He’d tried. Truly, he did. Under a large willow tree, Colin had kissed Katherine and caressed her soft skin under her skirt, her hand firm on his wrist, guiding him. He had been unable to get excited, and when she’d reached for him to find him flaccid, Katherine Crawford had had quite enough.

She’d stomped back to her room and avoided Colin for the remainder of the weekend. Colin could hardly meet anyone’s eyes. His family had obviously required an explanation, and he’d had none.

When they returned home after a torturous journey, Colin had jumped from the carriage, eager to be away from his inquiring parents and sister, who’d demanded to know how Colin had made such a mess of things. Colin had almost barreled straight into Patrick, who had come to take the horses. At the sight of him, his lean muscles, his maleness, Colin had been struck with the vivid memories of what he’d witnessed in the stable that day long ago. He had to bite his tongue to stop himself from begging Patrick to take him into some dark corner and have his way with him.

That was what he wanted. He would never want the Katherine Crawfords of the world. No matter how beautiful, how rich, how ideal for a wife. Colin wanted a man. Oh, God, did he want a man.

Can I be of assistance?” Patrick had affected a guileless expression, and Colin had realized he’d been staring dumbly.

Awkward and ready to crawl out of his own skin, Colin had mumbled something and hurried off. All the denials he’d repeated to himself had finally been silenced. He’d locked himself in his room, took himself in hand, and, muffling his face in a pillow as he thought of Patrick, attained the most satisfying release he’d experienced since that day at sixteen years old, hiding in the stable.

Remembering now, Colin stroked himself quickly, careful not to muss himself too much before the party. He thought of Patrick, of his Gaelic lullaby and of his grunts as he’d penetrated the man in the stable years before. As he rubbed himself with one hand, legs spread, Colin caressed his lips with his fingertips, imagining what it would be like to be kissed—really kissed. He didn’t even know if men kissed each other, but he would like to try it.

Sometime later, Colin straightened his navy tie and vest under his dark jacket and peered into the full-length mirror in the corner of his bedroom. His large eyes were a deep brown that matched his hair, and his jaw was narrow. His nose was straight and unremarkable. Katherine had once told him that his smile turned her knees to jelly and his eyes were bottomless pools she could stare into for eternity.

Colin doubted it, somehow.

He decided he looked as presentable as he was able to and went to join the party. Naturally, the first person he saw was Katherine. Dressed to the nines in an ornate, yellow, bell-shaped gown and looking lovely, she was laughing gaily at something William had said. Her hand was placed just so on his arm, and Colin saw the flash of her eyes as she spotted him. She laughed again, even louder.

Colin felt like laughing himself. If she only knew. Before he could do anything, Rebecca towed him into the drawing room, her voice low and urgent, grip firm. “Honestly, I don’t know what William is thinking. You mustn’t pay them any mind, Colin. Are you very upset?” Her pretty face, very much like their mother’s, creased with worry.

Shaking his head, Colin kissed his dear sister’s cheek. “I won’t give it another thought. William is welcome to her. Perhaps Father will take some solace if the family is connected to the Crawfords in the end.”

Rebecca, fourteen and very dramatic, hugged him tightly. “Oh, Colin. You’re ever so brave.”

Biting back his mirth, Colin thanked her and pointed her toward her newly arriving friends from down the road. He made his rounds of the soiree, shaking hands and making polite conversation. Dinner was served, and Colin listened to a neighbor tell him about what a wonderful time he’d have at Cambridge. Colin hoped it would be true. The one thing dampening his excitement about finally getting away from home was that he’d also be leaving Patrick behind.

As he spooned his custard, Colin brooded. He knew it was deeply foolish, since the strange affection and desire he had for Patrick was certainly one-sided. He’d only been a child when they were friends. Even if by some miracle Patrick desired him now that he was grown, would Colin really have the nerve to lie with another man? His trousers tightened at the notion, and he was glad for the napkin across his lap.

After dinner, Colin endured the ladies’ singing and gentlemen’s card games. Unable to shake Patrick from his mind as the night wore on, he found himself walking to the stable, unable to stay away. He was almost there when a cry came up. A man burst out from the large wooden doors and fled across the meadow, barely visible in the darkness. In the lantern light from the stable, Patrick tumbled outside, followed by two men Colin recognized as shopkeepers in the next county. Brothers named Harris, he thought.

Colin realized he was running and skidded to a halt just as one of the brothers landed a vicious kick to Patrick’s ribs. “Stop!” Colin shoved the man aside. Blood already streamed from Patrick’s nose and mouth.

The man ignored Colin as if he were naught but a fly, and kicked Patrick again. “Unnatural piece of filth!”

Several other guests who heard the melee drew near. The other Harris brother called out to them. “We need the inspector. A crime’s been committed here.”

“What crime?” Colin demanded.

The man spit at the ground where Patrick lay beaten. “Buggery.”

The world tilted on its axis, and Colin’s stomach churned. He realized Patrick’s breeches were loose, and that the man he’d seen fleeing must have been…

Suddenly Colin’s father was there. In the lantern light, Colin could see the rage on his father’s face, and it chilled him. Edward was short and stout, yet an imposing presence. He issued a terse command to the Harris brothers to follow him and bring Patrick.

Patrick was dragged around the back of the manor house, a growing number of curious guests following. Several women were told to go back to the party, and the servants watched with wide eyes as the brothers hauled Patrick through the kitchen. Inside Edward’s study, a group of men gathered. Patrick was deposited on his knees in the middle of the room as Colin crowded inside with the others. They were soon joined by Colin’s mother.

“What’s going on?” she hissed to her husband. “There are whispers everywhere.”

Edward barely spared her a glance. “This is no place for a woman. An ungodly crime has been committed. Go see to the other guests and tell them everything is fine. We don’t want this getting out.”

“I’m not going anywhere. Tell me what’s happened!” Elizabeth’s cheeks flamed.

The man who’d kicked Patrick spoke. “My wife is feeling ill, so my brother and I went to the stable to ask for our carriage to be brought round.”

“Ill? Not from the food?” Elizabeth appeared horrified.

“For God’s sake, woman, forget the food!” A vein in Edward’s temple throbbed, and Colin feared his father might explode with rage.

“Where’s the other one?” Colin glanced behind him, surprised to hear William’s voice. Apparently the whispers were indeed spreading.

One of the Harris brothers answered. “Gone. I think it was the Nelsons’ carriage driver. Quick bastard, we couldn’t catch him. This one was still tangled up in his breeches. Caught him dead to rights.”

“No need to get the courts involved. Take him out back and hang him from his bollocks,” said one of the other guests.

There was a murmur of agreement, and Edward seemed to seriously be considering it. Colin’s panic increased exponentially as the tension simmered. Many of those present had long been into their cups, and a reckless air swirled through the room. He looked to Patrick, who knelt silently, blood dripping down his face, his hands now bound behind his back. Colin hadn’t seen who restrained him.

“Kill him,” agreed one of the Harrises. To Patrick, he said, “Wouldn’t you rather be put out of your misery now than rot in a jail cell knowing you’re going to the gallows? We’d be doing you a favor.”

The murmur of assent grew frighteningly loud. “Should have expected it from an Irishman,” someone shouted.

“Hang ’im! Save the courts some time and money.” The bookkeeper from the local village reached for Patrick, attempting to haul him to his feet as other men cried their agreement.

“No!” When all eyes turned to him, Colin realized he’d spoken aloud. “No. You can’t kill him.” He thought of that day six years before, when Patrick had raced after him and plucked him from the fleeing stallion. His heart hammered as it had that day.

Edward’s eyes narrowed. “Colin, the punishment for buggery is death. It’s what he deserves. This man—if you can call an animal a man—is a degenerate criminal.”

“Then so am I!”

Silence gripped the room in an instant, as if everyone held their breath collectively. Elizabeth went pale. “Colin, you have no idea what you’re saying.” She pulled his arm, urging him toward the door. “I’m sorry, everyone; he’s had far too much brandy this evening. He isn’t himself.”

Colin yanked his arm away. “No, Mother. I know what I’m saying.” He swallowed, his throat dry and thick. “I am myself.” Perhaps for the first time.

A shocked William spoke up, his eyes wide. “Colin, this is madness!”

Edward simply stared, stunned into silence for the first time in Colin’s memory. Elizabeth pulled at him again, but Colin shook free. “If you will kill this man for his crime, then you’ll have to kill me too. Shall you take me outside and string me up?”

“What in God’s name are you doing?” Patrick spoke for the first time, and all eyes turned to where he knelt. He stared at Colin with dazed astonishment.

The sound of Patrick’s voice seemed to spur Edward out of his daze. Edward turned a murderous gaze on Patrick. “If you’ve laid a finger on my son, I swear—”

“I’d sooner bed a horse,” Patrick sneered.

“And probably has!” a voice called out.

Colin felt a ridiculous stab of pain at Patrick’s words.

Patrick went on. “Sir, your son is clearly not in his right mind.”

William’s father, John, a lawyer, spoke next. He was tall and distinguished, the opposite of his brother, Edward. He seemed to be the only calm person left in the room. “Colin, are you saying you’ve committed acts of buggery?”

“Yes.” Even if it wasn’t true, Colin couldn’t let them kill Patrick. At least not tonight, not if he could help it.

Elizabeth shrieked and collapsed into a chair. “Oh, my son. What have you done? It can’t be true!”

“I’m sorry, Mother. They’ll have to kill us both.”

“Don’t listen to him! For God’s sake!” Patrick tried to stand but was shoved back down by Edward, whose face flamed with rage.

John spoke up. “No one’s killing anyone.” He turned to the Harris brothers. “Did you witness the act?”

One of them laughed tersely. “Didn’t have to. They heard us coming, and the other one was off and running. But we saw and heard enough to know what was going on.”

John pondered this, and everyone waited. He seemed to have quietly taken control of the proceedings, for which Colin was grateful. He hoped Patrick wouldn’t be harmed any further for the moment.

“No concrete evidence. None in regards to Colin either,” John said after a lengthy pause.

“Because it’s not true!” Elizabeth cried.

John ignored her and turned to Edward. “I have some friends in the magistrate’s office who should be able to help. I’ll go speak to George Crawford and get him on our side. But too many people have heard Colin’s confession. Something must be done.”

Edward nodded grimly, not looking at Colin. He pointed to Patrick. “We’ll keep this one locked in the pantry for the night. Colin will be in his room with a guard placed outside. William, take him upstairs.”

The shock of his actions slowly settling in, Colin didn’t resist as William led him away. They opened the door to the study to find the hallway crowded with party guests. Katherine was among them, her delicate face transformed into a hard mask. “Fiend!” She dashed down the hall, weeping.

Accusing eyes glared from all sides, and William led Colin to the servants’ back stairway, sparing him the spectacle of being marched up the grand staircase. In his room, Colin tried to speak. “Will, I…”

William raised a hand. “Don’t.” He shook his head sadly, his expression deeply wounded. “I don’t understand. I’ve always thought of you as a dear friend. A brother. Now I feel I’ve never known you at all.” He turned his back, closing the door behind him. A moment later, Colin heard the key turn in the lock, and his life as he knew it was over.

Author Bio

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

 

 

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Bookbub

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

A Stella Review: The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee

Standard

RATING 5 out of 5 stars

A man with nothing finds everything.
Abandoned at birth, WWI veteran Hal Stanton faces bleak employment prospects in post-war London. Desperation spurs him to reinvent himself to hook a wealthy wife, one he will be devoted to even if he feels no real passion. But when he meets his fiance’s cousin, Julian Needham, it’s all he can do to keep his heart in check and his eye on the prize.

From the moment he’s introduced to the charming stranger Margaret plans to marry, Julian suspects the man’s motives yet fights a relentless attraction. He’s determined to reveal Hal as a fraud but must handle the matter delicately to protect his sweet cousin’s feelings. A weekend at the family estate should allow time and opportunity for him to expose Halstead Wiley.

Even as the men match wits in a battle of attempted unmasking, powerful sexual attraction threatens to overcome them both and win the day. Can a true love connection possibly grow between these adversaries without destroying lives and loved ones?

I rarely read historical mm books, but once in a while a blurb or a cover or an author’s name catches my interest and I have a go. The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee was simply amazing. I will definitely reread it and reread again and again. A huge success. It has all the elements I look for in a historical story, not necessarily in the mm world. It’s a romance, a pure romance, the kind of story that lets you dream and brings you into the MCs’ world. I simply adored it, that’s why it deserves all the five stars.

I’m often dubious about characters set in a non contemporary time, because what I want to find in my books is the chance to empathize with them or to fantasize, and more than once it doesn’t happen. In this case I got both, maybe because the story is set in a not so far away historical period, just after WWI, maybe because the author is very good at writing. Anyway I read her new release in a one sitting, I savoured every single scene, every word, and I deeply loved it.

I saw the attraction between Hal and Julian, I followed them while they struggled with their fears and doubts, and I cheered on them to finally find a way to be together. I learned their pasts and started to love both of them, and actually the second characters too, from the first chapters. Every single one well developed and defined.

I enjoyed the plot, I think the author delivered an amazing story, there is no cheating here, which is something I’m not comfortable with, on the contrary, not just the MCs will get their HEA. I felt every feeling Hal and Julian felt, their desire to be in each other arms. And more important, to me the story seemed very realistic.

I feel to recommend The Fortune Hunter, even if you are not a huge fan of historical romance like me, I’m sure you will love it.

The cover art is likeable and well done.

SALE LINKS    AMAZON

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 235 pages

Published January 2nd 2018

ASIN B077XLY1ND

Edition Language English

Release Blitz for Ruby Moone’s The Mistletoe Kiss ( giveaway)

Standard

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 26,600 words
 
Publisher: JMS Books
 
Blurb


By 1816, widowed bookseller Lawrence Fenton has spent a lonely lifetime hiding who he is. He has convinced himself his feelings for his far too young, gorgeous, but troubled assistant Christy Shaw are nothing more than pride in his protégé and concern for his plight.

Christy’s life involves walking fine lines: one between his mother and his abusive stepfather, one where he must keep his needs hidden, and hardest of all, one where he must keep his feelings for his serious employer to himself.

Lame since birth, Lawrence cannot imagine anyone wanting him, least of all Christy. But when Christy’s life threatens to spiral out of control, Lawrence steps in. Then Christy’s emotions spill over into a kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas. Will Lawrence be able to face the long-buried truth about himself and keep Christy by his side?


 

Author Bio
 

Ruby lives in Lancashire in the northwest of England. All through school she was told she would never get anywhere if she didn’t stop daydreaming. Eventually it occurred to her to write down the daydreams, and voilà! The beautiful men in her head came to life. Ruby writes historical and contemporary gay romance but has a definite weakness for handsome men in billowing white shirts, breeches, and cravats. Oh, and she loves tea. Lots of tea.



Facebook – Ruby Moone
Twitter – @RubyMooneWriter
Website and Blog – www.rubymoone.com
Email ñ rubymoone@gmail.com

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions