A Lila Review: Mystery of the Bones (Snow in Winter #4) by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

It’s been a full year since the mystery that brought antique shop owner and part-time amateur sleuth Sebastian Snow together with NYPD homicide detective Calvin Winter. Patience, sanity, and their very lives have been put to the test, but love has persevered. Although Sebastian is now New York City’s best-known busybody, he’s done solving crimes and wants nothing more than to plan a romantic budget wedding.Then Snow’s Antique Emporium receives a decapitated human head in the mail and the holidays are gory once again. Sebastian patently disregards the mystery of a lifetime because he is done with death and danger—but the killer escalates. Before Sebastian knows it, his closest friends and family are dragged into a series of horrific murders with antiquated clues hinting to the infamous Victorian American Bones Wars.

The clock is ticking to recover a long-lost artifact linked to paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope and to capture a murderer. But it’s not Sebastian who may become the next target—it’s Calvin.

The Mystery of the Bones is a good addition to the series but my least favorite. I’m wondering if it is due to the lack of Calvin. Yes, he’s an important part of the plot but Sebastian is the star. With the help of some interesting allies.

As before, we get to travel New York and see history through Sebastian’s eyes (pun intended). The amount of information he knows is pointless but relevant to the mystery. I would love to see Sebastian play Jeopardy.

There are more clues in this book than before and the relationship between them is a bit gruesome. A lot more bodies and parts. Still, the book is easy to follow.

The only thing I didn’t like is the way the resolution came out of left field. The clues dropped fast and it felt as if the author was withholding information from the reader. I wanted a little more breadcrumbs. Overall, a well-written story.

The cover by Reese Dante is simple but it has the main elements of the story. I love how we have seen Sebastian evolve with each cover.

Sale Links: DSPAmazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 191 pages
Published: September 24, 2019, by DSP Publishing
ISBN: 9781641082075
Edition Language: English

Series: Snow & Winter
Book #1: The Mystery of Nevermore
Book #2: The Mystery of the Curiosities
Book #3: The Mystery of the Moving Image
Book #4: The Mystery of the Bones

A Barb The Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review:That Turtle Story by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Eugene Montgomery comes to the Turtle R&R to report he found a nest of turtle eggs on the beach and it appears some eggs are already damaged, biologist Nor O’Brien rushes to save them.  He can’t keep from eyeing the gorgeous eye candy either. Nor is single and frustrated. Small and nerdy, the 28-year-old is hoping to find the man of his dreams—someone who might look a lot like Eugene—big, buff, and, hopefully, interested in turtles. But it’s apparent Eugene is on vacation, and Nor doesn’t do flings.

Well, not usually, anyway. At least that’s what he tells himself when the two end up in bed.  But the good news is that Eugene does indeed love turtles, and Nor eventually learns he’s been mistaken about Eugune all along. He’s not on vacation—he’s moved here permanently to start his own business.  Nor may really have met the man of his dreams, after all.

This story was sweet—and almost too short. But the author, who has a way with word crafting, was able to fit in a lot of detail about the turtle sanctuary, the rescue of the loggerhead eggs, time for dating, and even a sex scene.  I would have loved this to be longer, but what we got was really interesting and heartwarming. Plus, both characters were sketched-in enough that I really enjoyed being with them on this adventure.

I definitely recommend this story, especially to those of us who live in Florida and have to “make do” with sandy beaches instead of snow for the holidays. 

The cover by Brooke Albrecht features Nor, a young, eyeglasses-wearing, turtle-loving nerd. The bright colors and cute picture are definitely enough to attract attention to this book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050392
Edition Language English

A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Moving Image (Snow & Winter #3) by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

It’s summer in New York City, and antique shop owner Sebastian Snow is taking the next big step in his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter: they’re moving in together. What should have been a wonderful week of playing house and celebrating Calvin’s birthday comes to an abrupt end when a mysterious package arrives at the Emporium.

Inside is a Thomas Edison Kinetoscope, a movie viewer from the nineteenth century, invented by the grandfather of modern cinema, W. K. L. Dickson. And along with it, footage of a murder that took place over a hundred years ago.

Sebastian resists the urge to start sleuthing, even if the culprit is long dead and there’s no apparent danger. But break-ins at the Emporium, a robbery, and dead bodies aren’t as easy to ignore, and Sebastian soon realizes that the century-old murder will lead him to a modern-day killer.

However, even with Sebastian’s vast knowledge of Victorian America and his unrelenting perseverance in the face of danger, this may be the one mystery he won’t survive.

The Mystery of the Moving Image brings the readers into the story from the opening scene, “Five bucks says there’s a dead body inside.” We are right there, sleuthing with Sebastian once again. Trying to predicts the reason behind the mystery and Calvin’s reaction to the whole mess. Like in previous instances, Sebastian is the magnet that attracts the chaos.

We get some new characters, but our favorite suspects are back to throw Sebastian’s assumptions off. Jealousy brings Calvin and Sebastian closer, and it’s nice to see how they worked in unison. By now, they have learned to anticipate each other’s actions and reactions. I really enjoyed Neil’s part in the story and how he now relates to Sebastian and Calvin.

This installment those feels less complicated than the previous ones. Perhaps since we know the players it’s easier to follow the story, but some areas felt as if the mystery was just there to bring us back into Sebastian’s and Clavin’s lives instead of a real plot twist. Even so, it was hard to put the book aside.

I learned more than I needed about the historical items around the story and the development of film as an industry. Plus, I think poor Sebastian was put through the wringer in this book. Glad he had his family and friends to play a part in bringing his life back to rights.

The cover by Reese Dante it’s a bit simpler than the previous two but includes  Sebastian and one of the main elements in the mystery. Perfect for the series itself. 

Sale Links: DSPAmazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Published: September 11, 2018, by DSP Publishing
ISBN: 9781640808782
Edition Language: English

Series:  Snow & Winter
Book #1: The Mystery of Nevermore
Book #2: The Mystery of the Curiosities
Book #3: The Mystery of the Moving Image

A Lila Release Day Review: Southernmost Murder by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Aubrey Grant lives in the tropical paradise of Old Town, Key West, has a cute cottage, a sweet moped, and a great job managing the historical property of a former sea captain. With his soon-to-be-boyfriend, hotshot FBI agent Jun Tanaka, visiting for a little R&R, not even Aubrey’s narcolepsy can put a damper on their vacation plans.

But a skeleton in a closet of the Smith Family Historical Home throws a wrench into the works. Despite Aubrey and Jun’s attempts to enjoy some time together, the skeleton’s identity drags them into a mystery with origins over a century in the past. They uncover a tale of long-lost treasure, the pirate king it belonged to, and a modern-day murderer who will stop at nothing to find the hidden riches. If a killer on the loose isn’t enough to keep Aubrey out of the mess, it seems even the restless spirit of Captain Smith is warning him away.

The unlikely partnership of a special agent and historian may be exactly what it takes to crack this mystery wide-open and finally put an old Key West tragedy to rest. But while Aubrey tracks down the X that marks the spot, one wrong move could be his last.

Southernmost Murder is a perfect mix of mystery, quirky characters, and romance. I was captivated by Aubrey since the very beginning. I remember him from the Snow and Winter series, just like Jun, and I’m glad the author took the time to give these two their own story. It’s not necessary to read the other two books though.

I loved how Aubrey’s narcolepsy was part of him and not a prompt to make him more interesting or create conflict. It’s an integral part of the story and it’s relevant to the plot and the relationship. We get to know all the characters through their actions and each of them had their personalities and backstories.

The book has a solid ‘whodunnit’ plot with many twists and turns. Yes, Aubrey makes several dumb decisions during the story but those don’t take from it. I enjoyed the way the author brings the reader into the setting and the different locations. Together with all the historical facts, items, and side characters.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the romance arc take a central part of the story. Jun’s and Aubrey’s chemistry was intense but their friendship really added to it. I wish we could have seen them together during their courtship, but we get little glances of it. Jun’s POV would have been nice too. The secondary romance is heartbreaking.

Overall, this is a great mystery and love story. I hope to see more about these two and some of the other characters. Perhaps the detective? Adam?

The cover by Reese Dante shows Aubrey and Jun together with some of the elements of the story.

Sale Links: DSPAmazon | NOOK

ebook, 200 pages
Published: January 9, 2018, by DSP Publications
ISBN: 9781640800779
Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: New Game, Start by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Reclusive medieval scholar, Edgar Royal, has a crush. On a guy. Not a big deal, except that said guy, Walter Chase, is a famous online gamer who has no idea Edgar even exists. Edgar has harbored these feelings for nearly a year, and when Walter announces on Twitter that he’ll be visiting New York City as a guest at the GamerOn convention, Edgar decides he’ll be one of the thousands of fans who responds to the message.

He definitely doesn’t expect to be singled out by the humble, gorgeous, out-and-proud heartthrob. And when it comes to dealing with people, Edgar’s skills are pretty nonexistent. Even with Walter giving all the right signals, Edgar lacks the courage do anything about the mutual attraction growing through their online courtship. He’s always been better with the written word, so maybe the perfect Christmas gift will say what he cannot. But if Edgar can’t get the present to Walter before the convention ends, he may miss out on the boyfriend of a lifetime.

I enjoy stories about gamer nerds so combining that with a holiday theme is a definite draw. C.S. Poe gets the gaming aspects spot on while creating a sweet romance for Edgar and Walter, two gamers looking for love at a convention in NYC.

New Game, Start by C.S. Poe has lovely characters, a great setting (NYC and a gamer  convention), and an easy flow to her story that sweeps you into the life of Edgar Royal, medieval scholar and reclusive gamer.  Not once did Edgar ever come across as anything less than authentic.  You believe in Edgar, crossed signals, his lack of self worth…and wish that everything will go Edgar’s way when he actually meets up with his hero, Walter.  Walter too is a terrific character and the combination works in every way as the geeky courtship builds towards a relationship.

I loved the feel of this story, it’s a lovely, quiet romp to the end and definitely one I recommend.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is the series Stocking Stuffer cover, full of humor and good cheer.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar collection Stocking Stuffers.

ebook, 38 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803145
Edition Language English
setting New York City, New York (United States)

A Caryn Release Day Review: Color of You by CS Poe

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the last Christmas book I am reviewing this season, and I’m going to treat it a little bit like a hallmark movie.  At a different time of the year, I would probably be more cynical and take off a star, but this is the season of peace and goodwill, so if the characters act a bit schmaltzy I am just chalking that up to the spirit of the season!

Bowen Merlin is a classical musician who has left the NYC rat race to teach band in northern New Hampshire.  He’s excited about the opportunity, and the chance to work with elementary and high school students.  He knows he can’t expect much of a gay scene, but he’s pretty much sworn off trying to find a compatible boyfriend – after all, who would expect a tall, skinny redhead with a penchant for bow ties to be an alpha male?

Felix Hansen is a single father, and proprietor of the Snowy Ridge Apple Orchard and Christmas Tree Farm.  He’s a big guy, but he’s shy and tender-hearted, easily hurt, and self-conscious of the extensive scars he carries from the fire that burned down his house and prompted his move to New Hampshire.  He has also been out of the dating game for years, content to raise his teenage son Alan and support his community.

Bowen has sound-to-color synesthesia, which means that all sounds have specific colors for him, and affect how he feels about or reacts to people.  His first exposure to Felix is hearing his voice, which is a rich amber, warm and affectionate, a color that Bowen has never experienced before and he is incredibly attracted to it.  After an adorable meet-cute, the men start dating, and quickly find that they are perfect for each other.  There are obstacles to overcome – like the fact that Alan is one of Bowen’s band students – but things look like they will be pretty rosy.

But since this is a Christmas Hallmark-type story, there has to be some conflict, and it comes in the guise of homophobia that might destroy both men.  But the wonderful secondary characters – Bowen’s best friend Scarlet, accounting teacher Stephen, and of course Alan – jump in and save the day, with help from the entire town (except for the homophobic assholes who are basically tarred and feathered and run out of town).  And they lived happily ever after.

Even though the plot was simple and the conflicts resolved way too easily to be anything like real life, I found both MCs to be wonderfully likeable and their romance inevitable.  The dialogue is light-hearted, the pace is steady throughout, and the book is easy to read in one afternoon.  I loved how the synesthesia was worked into the story.  Although the book is from Bowen’s point of view, the colors he saw and the way he described this condition to others (which was exactly like Wikipedia, but that’s a good thing, right?) created a different kind of visualization of his emotions that was really intriguing.

Cover art by Reese Dante is perfect for the book.  The models are just what I expected the characters to look like – minus scars – and the gold/amber lettering and music notes highlighted one of the main themes, which also ties in with the title.  It’s a nice cover regardless, but after reading the book I really appreciated it!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 25th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801509
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One) by C.S. Poe and narrated by Derrick McClain

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

First of all, kudos to Derrick McClain for his outstanding performance of the characters in this story. His vocalizations were varied and seemed perfect for each one. That is especially true for the voice he gave Sebastian Snow, the geeky bookworm and antique store owner. Even with my eyes closed, I’d realize that voice belonged to a geek. It was perfect. So, getting this story in audio will set the stage for a very pleasant listening experience.

Now, for the story. I need to say that the audiobook doesn’t contain a note from the author, which I found out was present in the e-book version. That note apparently states that these characters are intended to be a tribute to Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English Mysteries, so at first I wondered why the story was so eerily familiar. And then I went to the reviews posted for the e-book version and read about the author’s fascination with, and tribute to, that series—one which is an all-time favorite among many, many MM romance readers.

Once I understood that, I was able to relax and enjoy all that unfolded in this book. This murder mystery took place in the world of antique and bookshop owners and involved the mystery of who was trying to find and steal a very rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane. Along the way, Sebastian Snow and his live-in lover, Neil, a deeply closeted cop, break up and Sebastian ends up in bed with the investigator of the murder mystery, Calvin Winter. Over the course of the story the romance between Snow and Winter develops to the point where we have a HFN by the end of the book.

I likely would have scored this book higher if Sebastian didn’t have sex with Calvin before he and Neil officially broke up, and in fact, it seemed as if it happened while Neil’s head indent was still on the pillows on the bed. Too soon for me, it smacked of cheating so it left me disinclined to be pleased for him, though by the end I really liked Calvin and wanted him to find happiness. I also think it’s critical that an author’s note be included in an audiobook when it includes an important piece of information as this one apparently did so I can’t give this more than 4 stars overall—3 for the story and 1 extra for the outstanding narration.

Because of Derrick’s narration, I enjoyed this story enough to highly recommend the audiobook to lovers of MM romance, geeks, and mystery.

~~~~

The predominantly white cover by Reese Dante features a gray-and-white rendition of Sebastian with a faint gray-on-white picture of a raven in the background. It suits the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications |  Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Time: 7 hrs 58 min

Audiobook

DSP Publications
Published March 30th 2017 (first published August 30th 2016)
Edition Language English
Series Snow & Winter #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Joy (States of Love) by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Down on his luck is Gideon Joy’s default state. He doesn’t know why he expected anything different on his cross-country trip, but not surprisingly, the hits keep coming—literally this time. Gideon strikes a moose with his car in New Hampshire, not only totaling his own vehicle, but damaging one belonging to local construction worker Silas Bright. He has no choice but to stay in Lancaster and take a job that’ll pay for the repairs. And in a town so small, Gideon’s always running into Silas. What starts as annoyance between them soon blooms into something much more romantic. But when Gideon’s notorious bad luck rears its head yet again, how many disastrous dates will Silas be willing to weather before realizing Gideon’s not worth it?

Despite Gideon’s desire to remain in the quaint community that has accepted him as one of their own, past fears of inadequacy threaten the very joy he left Los Angeles to discover. If he’s to find a happily ever after with Silas, Gideon must learn that sometimes it’s okay to not be the best. And true happiness might be waiting in a small town nestled among the great White Mountains.

Do you know what I wanted to see in Joy (States of Love) by C.S. Poe that I  didn’t get?  More length!  More of this wonderful story!  I felt as though I was just settling down into the town and couple when it stopped.  Not abruptly, no that irritates me to no end but just too early.

You see, by the time, the author brings this story to a close, I was emotionally invested in Gideon Joy’s emotional journey, his growth as a person and the happiness he had found in this small town and with the shy wonderful man, Silas Bright.  I had just gotten to know the town regulars, some of their habits and gotten glimpses of the promising future ahead for Gideon and those people coming to care for him.  And ending at 76 pages?  It just wasn’t enough!

Poe had done way too good a job with the characterizations and the location.  I felt as though I knew these people and that town.  While I wasn’t  ready to move in (way too cold up there for me), it was close thing.   The author did a beautiful job of connecting me to all these people, not just the MC’s and then set me loose.  From the opening sequence ~ that darn moose ~ through all the amazing small town feel that Poe brings  alive so vividly right up to looking at the Milky Way spread across the night sky, I felt I was walking, working and, yes, sometimes, wondering with Gideon as he worked things through in his mind and heart.

Sigh.

Is it any wonder I would love to see this couple and town revisited?  Nope, 76 pages wasn’t anywhere near enough.

But while I’m hoping for that to happen, I’m recommending you all pick this up and see for yourself why I  love it so.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante. I love this cover.  It captures the character and attitude perfectly.

Sales Links

 

Book Details:

ebook, 76 pages
Expected publication: April 5th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635333503
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStates of Love setting New Hampshire (United States)

A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter #2) by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter, is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind, that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.

Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that’ll bring him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.

It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line—it’s his very life.

The Mystery of the Curiosities is an intellectual interpretation of a murder mystery. I’m not a mystery reader. I never read any of the classic or watched any mystery programs. But, this series drew me in with great characters, interesting clues, and a lot of new facts. Like Sebastian, I love to know a lot of useless facts and information.

If you are looking for a realistic contemporary story, this isn’t one. You must give the characters, but especially the events, a lot of leeway. The facts, the settings, and most of the clues in the book are real, but everything is a bit over the top. Solutions come quick, and a sense of mysticism surrounds the story.

Sebastian’s dad is one of my favorite characters and Neil is a close second. There’s great banter between Calvin and Sebastian, and their relationship works great with the clues. The settings were very detailed and it was easy to understand their importance and how all the details added up in the end.

If you’re into detective’s stories with an intellectual edge, this is a good book to read. It moves fast and keeps the reader wanting to know more about the next clue. Looking forward to other installments in this series.

The cover by Reese Dante fits perfectly with the events of the story and gives the reader another good look at Sebastian. Also, it matches the first one in the series.

Sale Links: DSP | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: March 7, 2017, by DSP Publishing
ISBN: 9781635332650
Edition Language: English

Series:  Snow & Winter
Book #1: The Mystery of Nevermore
Book #2: The Mystery of the Curiosities

A Stella Review: Love, Marriage, and a Baby Carriage (2016 Daily Dose – A Walk on the Wild Side) by C.S. Poe

Standard

RATING:  4.5 out of 5 stars

Love, Marriage and a Baby CarriageTheodore Reinhart is a young man looking for love. In San Diego. At a convention. For penguin shifters. WaddleCon is the go-to event of the year when looking for your life partner, but Theodore isn’t comfortable with the game they’ve turned dating into, nor does the convention provide for the gay community. A mistake in speed dating table assignments puts Theodore in front of Wesley O’Neill, a handsome and confident model who lets it slip that he’s definitely noticed the spark of attraction between them.

A perfect date ends prematurely when Theodore finds an abandoned egg in a bathroom trash can. Unable to leave it behind, Theodore and Wesley play a mad game of cat and mouse across the resort trying to keep it safe, all while growing closer to one another. Wesley may be the forever partner Theodore came looking for, but their relationship won’t work if they don’t make room for a little addition to the family.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Daily Dose package “A Walk on the Wild Side.”

Theodore is having a bad day. With no suitcase (lost somewhere between New York, where he lives, and San Diego, where he  has just landed for the Waddle Con), a messy hair and an awful suit (brown jacket and salmon pants. Can you imagine him?) But his bad luck has no end.  He had just discovered the Waddle Con is a convention for single people who wants to find their forever penguin partner. Yes, he is a Magellanic penguin shifter but there’re a little problem. He is really not so straight. Then forced to join a speed dating, after woman #6, he sits at a table where an unbelievable beautiful man with dimples, aka Wesley is. The attraction and something more deep soon sparkle between them. And just when their dinner date is finally going to turn the heat on, in the trash bin of the restaurant’s restroom, Theodore finds an abandoned egg.

Love, Marriage, And a Baby Carriage made my day. It is very short, nonetheless the author did an amazing work. In just 32 pages I got a complete story, sweet, funny and with no pauses. A crescendo of great scenes that wrap up with a super cute ending. It was just adorable, my first book by C.S. Poe and I can’t wait to read more by her. Plus it was the first time I read about penguin shifters, the little scene where Wes swims in the bathtub was too quick. I want more of this world, I want more of Wes, Theodore and their baby.

The cover art by Catt Ford was not made for this particular story, but for the whole “A Walk on the Wild Side” anthology. It’s intriguing and fully reflects the theme of the package. I love the use of the colors.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 32 pages
Published June 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774868 (ISBN13: 9781634774864)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series2016 Daily Dose – A Walk on the Wild Side
CharactersTheodore Reinhart, Wesley O’Neill settingSan Diego, California (United States)