A VVivacious Review: The Buckland in the Vale and Sandstone Tor Gay Book Club (Inaugural Meeting) by John Wiltshire

Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
the-buckland-in-the-vale-and-sandstone-tor-gay-book-clubRory McGrath and Adam Sandstone both figure that a book club for gays would be a great place to meet gay men, what they don’t know is that The Buckland-in-the-Vale and Sandstone Tor Gay Book Club is a gay-book club not a gay book club.
While Rory and Adam’s first meeting couldn’t have been worse, the other nine members of the club have different ideas about Rory and Adam’s future. Well the old dears have decided that Rory and Adam will be perfect for each other and they will do everything to make sure that the only thing in Rory and Adam’s future is each other.
I have really mixed opinions about this book and I guess, with this book it’s definitely me and not the book.
I have read quite a few books by John Wiltshire and I love his books, but this book was very different from anything of his I had read this far. This book is funny and light-hearted; it doesn’t have very intense characters or situations. Overall this book should have been a fun, light, enjoyable read but it didn’t quite turn out that way.
This book starts out really funny and that’s what kept me reading but then Rory and Adam go for an away trip and things get really sad. I mean I don’t know if anyone else felt that way but for me the story went from funny, happy, light-hearted to sad really fast, that it made what would probably have not been so sad even more depressing.
I think the reason this book was a miss for me was because I couldn’t get behind Rory and Adam which is weird because Rory and Adam are great characters. Rory is the guy who wants to find his true love and Adam is all intense and finds Rory kind of hilarious for his ideals, but Adam’s thoughts on gay relationships happen to be tragically influenced by his past.
My biggest problem with this book was that it fails to give a conclusive ending. The ending leaves you hanging and unfulfilled.
But what I loved about this book was the Old Dears – Gertrude, Ivy, Myrtle, Hetty, Mary, Jane, Thea, Hilary and Constance. While writing this review when I was trying to think about the good scenes in this book, all those scenes had these wonderful women in them. I loved these meddling women and how even despite their advanced age they were ready to take on new ideas and try new things. When these nine decide to do something they go all the way and well any tale with them in it is a guaranteed fun ride.
So in not so many words I am trying to say that this book has a lot of good points but none of them have anything to do with the Adam and Rory’s relationship. Their relationship is still kind of up in the air and while it is heading in the right direction, I would have liked to have seen their relationship a bit more consolidated by the end of the book, which is not the case with this one.
Cover Art by Molly Wright. I loved the cover for this book with the big loopy handwriting and the turquoise background it kind of fits with the image I have of the book club in this book.
Sales Links:
Book Details:
Published August 2016 by MLR Press
Original TitleThe Buckland-in-the-Vale and Sandstone Tor Gay Book Club (Inaugural Meeting)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love Action, Suspense & Romance? Check Out Enduring Night by John Wiltshire (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)



Enduring Night (More Heat Than The Sun #7) by John Wiltshire
Release Date: October 23, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Dana Jamroz


Today we’re happy to have back one of our Down Under Showcase writers John Wiltshire,  author of Enduring Night, a new release in John’s  wonderful More Heat Than The Sun series.

Hi John, welcome back to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Tell our readers about yourself, your background, and your current book.


  • What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Hah. Besides my books making it to a movie one day? I think it would be being able to carry on. I’ve suffered from writer’s block in the past and it’s debilitating. While I can still write I reckon I’m blessed.

  • How many published books do you have? Can you tell us something about them?

I have seven now published in the More Heat Than the Sun series. I set out with this series to deliberately write a world that builds slowly. The first book is almost like a seed. You may not even engage with the characters. It was a risk on my part to start a long series like this, because I needed people to be intrigued enough to stick with it. Fortunately many have been, and now in Book 7, and even more in Book 8, it’s become a hopefully rich and very engaging world. The two main characters, Nikolas and Ben, now have an eclectic group of friends and adopted family around them, which would seem incredible to anyone reading the introduction to the series, Book 1, Love is a Stranger.

I also have two historical novels published: A Royal Affair and its sequel Aleksey’s Kingdom. I really enjoyed writing these two books because they are written in the first person, which allows a lot of humour when you write it. Nikolai is not the most self-aware chap, and his attitudes and opinions make me laugh. I’m also a bit of a history buff, so it was fun doing the research for them. I like characters who aren’t entirely honest about who they are, and Nikolai has his pretenses and masks peeled away when he falls in love.

I have a short story published, Catch Me When I Fall, which was actually the first thing I wrote for publication. It’s about a fallen angel.

  • Your main character wants to cook something special for his love interest. What does he make?

Uh-huh. I sometimes wonder if I’m writing in the right genre. My characters don’t really interact over food, or make romantic gestures, come to that. Ben has been trying to cook a bit recently. He had to learn once to go undercover and it was a disaster. I think Nikolas once made Ben a cup of tea. Does any of that count?

  • What are you working on at the moment? What’s it about?

I’m writing a short story for a co-authoring project at MLR Press. Four authors were chosen to write a series of mystery stories based around the seasons. I’m doing autumn, but it’s autumn with a difference. I’m also writing a novel set in a small village in Devon. All my characters are members of a book club. It’s huge fun to write, because I know all these people. Fortunately, I’m eleven thousand miles away, and they can’t get me when the book comes out.

  • Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

Not at all. I write scene by scene mainly. If it’s just a tiny scene, so be it. Sometimes I go months without writing anything. I start to panic a bit if I’ve not got one whole unpublished novel still in the bag.

I’d rather write nothing at all than write something I wasn’t happy with.

Thanks, John, for stopping by.  You are always welcome here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

Now more about Enduring Night


You’d have thought that Ben and Nikolas would have learnt that their romantic holidays inevitably end up as disasters. A short break on the polar ice sees them trapped in a nightmare of murder and deceit. Neither of them, however, foresees the long-term impact that endless winter has on their relationship. They return with a metaphorical darkness that threatens everything they have created together. Desperate and fearing for Nikolas’s life, Ben makes a bargain with a surprising ally. For the first time, Nikolas meets an enemy more powerful than he is. But fortunately, not as sneaky…


Pages or Words: 80,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Thriller



The view from the window hadn’t changed since the last time Ben had studied it—one grey, depressing wing of the building, the car park below, and some scraggly trees, still bare in January. Farther away, he could see the roofs of some houses, and perhaps, if he let his imagination run away with it, the distant hills of Bodmin moor. He didn’t speculate in the realms of fiction much these days. He brought his gaze back to the utilitarian architecture.

The seagull was back, perched on the sill, as it had been day after day. Sometimes, it tapped the window with its beak. Ben was never sure if the gull wanted in, or for him to open the window and join it outside, flying or falling. Freedom either way.

Secretly, Ben thought the gull was an albatross. It was so vast, so impressive, that it seemed inconceivable that it could be an ordinary gull blown in from Plymouth Sound and sitting on the grimy ledge. The first albatross perhaps to make it to England, tossed on ocean currents all the way from the Chatham Islands, lost, alone. If it was, then it was in good company. Ben had never felt so lost or so alone, and he had spent a fair proportion of his life being buffeted by metaphorical winds far stronger than those that prowled the vast oceans of the world.

Buy the book: MLR Books


Meet the Author

John Wiltshire is English, an ex-army officer, who emigrated to New Zealand and now spends his time surfing and procrastinating on YouTube.

Where to find the author:



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Tour Dates & Stops:

23-Oct: Mikky’s World of Books, Velvet Panic, Reviews by Jessewave, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance

26-Oct: BFD Book Blog, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter

27-Oct: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Jessie G. Books, Boy Meets Boy Reviews

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29-Oct: The Hat Party, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews





A Mika Review: Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun #6) by John Wiltshire


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Death's Ink Black Shadow coverIt takes a certain kind of courage to live as if favored by the gods, ignoring the ever-present ghosts of your past—or perhaps not bravery, but arrogance. And maybe not even that. Ben genuinely believes that the past is behind them—that they deserve to enjoy the life they have created. So it’s not hubris that leads him to overlook the signs that Nikolas does not share his faith, it’s love. But Nikolas knows something is coming. He can’t stop it; he can only decide how he will choose to face it. And without Ben’s support, he is entirely alone.

Honestly, I was so underwhelmed reading this! Nothing magnificent happened, nothing explosive. Everything was meh.  I’ve seen everything here before in other stories so I saw it coming here. It’s getting repetitive with Nik shutting Ben out, Ben getting whiny and doing something extreme. Ben finding out the truth that was right there in front of his face, and feeling bad about how he acted, it was underwhelming to say the least.

I found myself coasting along throughout the book. It did not feel like the usual emotional journey that J.W presents us with. I’m finding myself thinking it’s the same scenario with these two just different settings with a regurgitation of their feelings. 

There was one seen where I felt a spark of something good happening, but after the truth came to light then noothing spectacular happened further in the book. I think the problem is that we’ve built this series up to be so amazing, and not it’s in book 6.

What more is there to happen with this couple? I think they need a good therapy session because we can’t continue to go through this! Of course I’ll continue the series, but I’m going in extremely cautions with the next book.

Cover Art by: I like the cover, I don’t know the reason behind it. I’m still not sure about it. It’s beautifully done though.

Sales Links:  MLR  Press  |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 239 pages
Published June 19th 2015 by MLR Press
original titleDeath’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun, #6)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #6

Books in the Series:

Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1)
Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)
The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun, #3)
This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun, #4)
The Bruise Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun, #5)
Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun #6)

A Mika Review: The Bruise-Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun #5) by John Wiltshire


Rating: 4 star out of 5 stars

The Bruise Black Sky coverBen usually overlooks Nikolas’s occasionally jarring dissonance. Not this time. A deep rift, a terrible lie, separates them. Eleven thousand miles from Nikolas, in New Zealand, it’s bitter winter as Ben films the tragic story of a post-apocalyptic gladiator, a victim of his own personal darkness. But on receiving a death threat, Ben suspects the truth of actor Oliver Whitestone’s suicide. Someone doesn’t want this movie made. It’s fortunate for Ben, therefore, that dissonance is a state of unrest, a longing for completion. As if Nikolas would stay at home in disgrace while Ben Rider-Mikkelsen becomes the target of a crazed stalker…

Talk about secrets! Wow! Everyone is keeping a secret in The Bruise-Black Sky by John Wiltshire. I thought this was one of the funniest books out the series. Nik was hilarious. Nik who obviously doesn’t think he is good with kids is sadly mistaken. This kid Miles astounded me. Miles and Nik was so good together. In my hopeless mind I was picturing Nik with a son. HAH, I have this warm gooey feeling about him doing well. I hope I see Miles in future books. He was adorably cute.

This picks up a year or two later from the last book. As usual something drastic happens for Nik to go back to Aleskey’s Special Forces Nik! Ha, I said it. He went full metal jacket. Ben, who has his memories back, is back to being Ben… kind of.  I felt as though there was something off with him. I get it now reading the book. As usual they have their couple spats, and one does this “wrong” thing, and the other go pouts. This book, they were not playing around with each other. I mean, some indifferences had my heart beating wondering, if this was it.  Could Nik do anything ever so awful that Ben would leave him?

It’s a couple things in this book, that’s awful, but I find myself always forgiving Nik. I’m a complete tosser for Nik! 

Nik and Ben in AMERICA! It was funny from their view point. Nik loves Ben with everything he has, and I think like every other book so far he shows it. He might not have the words, but his actions speak extremely louder than anything else. Of course we got to see Emilia, and her grandmother, as well as a few other familiar faces. I enjoyed them. I liked the plot as well. I really liked when Nik met with the police lady, it was family because they were both being stoic towards each other. Parts of the story felt  slow to me, while other parts intrigued me.

I will continue reading this series because I love them. The shocking revelations in the book had me like WTF. That last 25% was the best ever! I can’t wait until the next book is out.

Cover Art. Now that I’ve had time to read it, I understand the cover. I don’t like it or dislike it really. It’s okay and continues with the type of cover of the previous books.

Sales Links:   MLR PressAll Romance (ARe) – Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 282 pages
Published March 20th 2015 by MLR Press (first published March 19th 2015)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #5

Books in the Series:

Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1)
Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)
The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun, #3)
This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun, #4)
The Bruise Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun, #5)

Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun, #6) coming June 19th from MLR Press


A Mika Review: This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun #4) by John Wiltshire


Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

This Other CountryNikolas is the sanest, straightest, person he knows, so can anyone tell him, why he’s on a gay therapy course?

Nikolas Mikkelsen could make a very long list of unpleasant things he’s endured in his life. Then order it from ‘nearly killed me’ to ‘extremely horrific and don’t want to do again’. And what did it say about his forty-five years that being hit by a tsunami would be a considerable way down this list? But nothing, not torture, imprisonment, nor starvation has prepared him for what he now has to endure for Ben Rider’s sake-attendance on a residential, gay therapy course. At least he has a new contender for the top spot on his ‘my awful life’ list.

This Other Country starts off right where The Bridge of Silver Wings ends. Right from the start, I was worried. I mean I wasn’t use to this side of either guys. My heart was beating fast because of all the ideas that were running through my mind based on what I was reading. After a while, I was relieved. No worries from me now on, because I know John Wiltshire would never break my heart like that. I thoroughly enjoyed the circumstances pertaining to Nikolas and Ben ending up in couple’s therapy. Never worry, folks, this is the same vulnerable, difficult, and loving Nik and Ben we are used to. This installment lacked the natural disasters, and attempted assassinations but it never digressed from it’s usual level of emotions and dedicated plot.

I found myself at times sitting back and thinking of all the things that Nikolas has done over the last 8 years and I wouldn’t change a thing. This road that they have found themselves on is their destiny and journey. No matter how things turned out for the better or worst this Ben and Nikolas are the only ones that matter. This book we got a lot of “I’m not gay” responses. I didn’t know how I felt like that, and because I’m not a gay man I can’t say what I should feel like. I can say I liked how each one’s reasoning. Maybe they aren’t gay but for each other. Either way I loved that instead of the action we had to actually deal with “real life” things like how they are perceived. It was a scary reaction for both but I was confident enough that they would come out winning on some accounts.

(Spoiler Links)

I love guiltless Nikolas but damn I wanted cut throat Nikolas out in an instance involving Kate, I can’t talk about the deed but it shows the amount of growth he had by not putting her head on a spike. I was so angry and blood thirsty because of her betrayal that I expected actions to be taken. What do we know; Nikolas has turned over a new leaf.

Wiltshire continues to impress me with his growth of Ben. Just when we think Ben has lost his marbles literally he does the unexpected. I was smiling through tears at that point because it took a lot for him to do that. This goes to show that Ben is still that pure angel in my mind. While this one is somber than the last 3 it might have been the most impactful to me. The message of accepting one’s voice is bright and powerful in itself. I really do enjoy reading these books, and can’t wait to see what John Wiltshire has in store for us next.

Cover Art by Deanna Jamroz. Definitely goes hand in hand with the battling of others and yourself. I truly do like these covers.

Sales Links:  MLR Press       All Romance (ARe)     Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published November 22nd 2014 by MLR Press (first published November 21st 2014)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #

More Heat Than The Sun Series in the order they were written and should be read:

A Mika Review: The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun #3) by John Wiltshire


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The Bridge of Silver Wings coverNikolas and Ben discover that bonds aren’t forged with blood or scars but in the hearts of men strong enough to love. 

Ben discovers the truth of the adage, ‘be careful what you wish for’. Nikolas has exorcised his demons, but when they end up stranded in Russia, the monster inside needs to be let loose. Siberia in winter isn’t a place for good men. There is nothing Nikolas won’t do to keep Ben alive. 

Home again, Nikolas then faces an enemy he can’t defeat: Ben Rider himself. Discovering a new family, Ben realizes he’s been living too long in the shadows cast by Nikolas’s all-consuming love. For the first time, life apart from Nikolas is possible. Is Nikolas strong enough to let Ben go?

Talk about unexpected events. I could never in a billion freaking years imagine going through the things that Sir Nikolas and Ben went through. I know for sure I wouldn’t have the sanity, resilience or even strength to see the light at the end or put my faith in one person so much. We pick up book three right after the events of Conscious Decisions of the Heart, and the couple are,  literally, off on an adventure in this book. Terrified would be might one word description of the first half of the book. Who goes through things like this? It’s been a good month since reading this, and I wondering what the other people’s family thinks happened, I mean I guess the plane could make sense but where is all the freaking PTSD from that situation. I didn’t see a way for them to survive, and in all this darkness Nikolas persevered and became the dark angel with the brightest shining I’ve ever seen. Certain circumstances, he literally put his life on the line. He is such an amazing character who is so intense, and closed off but has this way about him that just draws you in. I love John Wiltshire for that, I’m all about the damaged hero and he just made my top ten list.

Wiltshire puts them in situations where they are confronted with the possibility that a tomorrow isn’t a promise to me, and in situations like these; these two guys always do something that turn my insides to mush. It might not be the healthiest or sanest ways but it’s why I love them. It was a scene in this book where Nik basically had to put his foot down and didn’t really care about Ben’s feelings. That was one of my favorite quotes ever in this entire book.

“I love you enough to hit you until you get on that thing. Do not make me do it, because this is hurting me more than you.- Nikolas”

Wiltshire takes his readers on a vivid journey and reading it is like watching it unfold right in front of you. These emotions that he seems to bring out of you are gut-wrenching, I cried off and on during the last 45%. He’s able to have two strong men with sordid past and have them fall so deeply in love with each other that no amount of distance or strife will keep them away. This book definitely became my favorite out the series so far. Second half had me not really liking Ben, but as usual he comes out victorious. I wasn’t mad for the reason most people would be, I was mad because I understand him needing to feel like he can stand on his two feet and needing the space to do it. I was mad at the circumstances surrounding certain situations, but it’s my fault really because I doubted Ben and it’s not something we made need to do. While as Nikolas is this dark angel with a vengeful way about himself; Ben is the total opposite. He’s this bright shining beacon who has the most endearing conscience around. I mean he cares for everyone’s well being. His heart is one of the reasons why many adore him, and only Nikolas has him.

Cover Art by Deana Jamoz. This cover is everything that happened in the book. Being in the darkness but fighting your way out until you reach the light. I love it.

Sales Links:   MLR Press         All Romance (ARe)      Amazon        Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Published August 22nd 2014 by MLR Press (first published August 21st 2014)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #3

More Heat Than The Sun Series (should be read in order to understand the relationships and events)

  • Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1)
  • Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun, #2)
  • The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun, #3)
  • This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun, #4)
  • The Bruise-Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun, #5)

A MelanieM Review: Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 Ben Rider and Nikolas Mikkelsen learn that danger comes in all shapes and sizes and often in places you least expect it.

Conscious Decisions of the Heart civIn order to appease an ex friend and covert op whose been hunting Nikolas and Ben, Nikolas heads back to Russia and his past on an errand of mercy, leaving an uncertain Ben  behind with Radulf.  Left at loose ends and missing  Nikolas terribly, Ben lights out on his own, this time to Denmark to learn Nikolas’s language and visit some of the places where Nikolas grew up. Soon Ben settles in, making friends in the small town and become prolific (or so he thinks) in Danish.  Alone and certain that Nikolas is in danger in Russia, Ben doesn’t see the enemy that is much closer to home to the peril of them all.

And when the danger explodes, it leaves them all, including Nikolas, permanently scarred and forever changed.

What an amazing series!  With Conscious Decisions of the Heart, John Wiltshire manages to give his readers a frightening mystery, a suspenseful drama, a heartbreaking romance and an exploration of the island of Aeroe, in Denmark (an excellent reason to google what is said to be one of the most beautiful spots in Denmark), all these things rolled into one gripping tale of love, passion, and suspense.

That cover alone is a clue this is not a story for the faint of heart.  Picking up after Love is a Stranger, both Ben and Nikolas find themselves in uncertain times, their previous lives in shambles and, for the first time, trying to be honest with each other about their feelings and new relationship.  But with these two complicated men who have secrets the way other men have tee times, the past is never completely out of the picture.  It will cause Nikolas to travel to Russia on their behalf so he and Ben may feel safe as well as to find some measure of closure in a relationship from his past.

Wiltshire does such an excellent job with these characters.  Already beautifully fleshed out and believable, he continues to build layers upon layers into each of their personalities and histories, peeling away some traits to reveal others lying just underneath, a pattern that continues with each man’s history and background.  Just when you think you might have some idea of how a character will behave or where he comes from, Wiltshire demolishes that bit of certainty with an astonishing new fact or shocking denouement!

And no, I absolutely won’t go into any of that here.  Sacrilege, indeed.

Conscious Decisions of the Heart feels like a magician’s act, full of sleight of hand tricks that lull you into thinking you know where the dangers are to be found and that you have a handle on the plot, all while the feature illusion has been forming and explodes with a ferocity you didn’t foresee (and neither do the characters).    And there is more than one.  It takes your breathe away.  And every aspect of this story is so well written and plotted, it just works! I loved all the action and adventure and, yes, shear terror, that the author brings to this story.  And some will break your heart.  Really, John Wiltshire, how could you do that to….sigh.

But what is equally astonishing is that while all the major elements are in flux, Ben and Nikolas become steadier, more committed to each other and their relationship. You watch the progress, the small and large steps, and your commitment to these men and their story just gets deeper. How I love this series.

I would have given this book a 5 star rating (it deserves it) but it definitely can’t be read on its own.  Part of the power (and Wiltshire’s puzzle in the making) comes from reading all parts in the order they were written.  Each book continues to build on the  previous story and without some of the back knowledge, balancing and understanding all these pieces and personalities becomes problematic.    So, if new to the series, run, lope, gallop, whatever, back to Love is a Stranger, then move onto to this story.  I am one step ahead and more books (and reviews) will be coming!  Join me along the way!

This is seriously addictive stuff here, and one of my highly recommended reads!

Cover Art by Deana Jamroz is terrifying, stark, and absolutely perfect for this story.  Be Warned, then continue on!

Sales Links:  MLR Press LLC     All Romance (ARe)        Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published July 3rd 2014 by MLR Press
ISBN 1020140265
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.mlrbooks.com
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #2

More Heat Than the Sun Series Books in the Order they were written and should be read:

Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1)
Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)
The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun, #3)
This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun, #4)
The Bruise Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun, #5) coming soon

A Sammy Review: A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Perhaps if I had listened more closely, I would have heard them all whispering his name. For it is his name I hear still in my nightmares and in my waking dreams. It is the everyday hum of my new life in this vast country. But it began there, on that ship, in the sense of longing in my heart. Even my heartbeat murmured his name.

I should have listened more closely.

A Royal Affair coverDoctor Nikolai Hartmann earns a reputation for himself after saving a wealthy man from evil poisons. That reputation summons him to a faraway land, to save a king who has presented similar symptoms, leaving him entertaining death. On his way to the king, he encounters despair unlike anything he’s seen before. Villages are impoverished, suffering is suffocating to all those who pass, and the cruelty is unbearable to an outsider like Nikolai.

One night, after witnessing particular horrific events, he is met by men that are camouflaged by the forest. Little does he expect to encounter them later on in his travels, or for one of them to be a Prince – the son of the very same king on his death bed.

Through poison, wars, and death, Aleksey and Nikolai come together, too entwined to ever separate again.

I was filled with searing, bitter, exalting, joyous, but awful knowledge that I loved Aleksey. I loved him as a man should love a woman. I wanted him as a man should want a woman.

But love, in my experience, was something that left you weak and vulnerable and near to death.

Some books have a plot, and yet have very little happen. This isn’t a fault of the book, merely the style. There are no explosions or great, tragic events. Just a simple story of life. This is not one of those stories. You will find all of these things in A Royal Affair, all of them in spades. Just when you think you’ve mounted the worst, more comes crashing down, sometimes quite literally.

The book was, quite bluntly, packed to the brim with events. And for the most part, it worked in the books favor. One thing can be said for sure, and that is that John Wiltshire is a master of words. Each phrase seemed to be delicately stringed together, like the author sat quietly and thought carefully about how one word would look next to the other. It’s beautiful, and especially in moments of depicting war, it was breathtaking. Death is ugly, and these words colored it in a beautiful and equally horrifying way.

It was, of course, not without its faults. For one, we met Mark in the beginning and unless I totally missed something happening to him, we never really heard of him again – just maybe two brief mentions after the actual meeting. I would’ve liked to know more about him, as all Aleksey’s other friends were wonderfully crafted and incredibly intriguing.

Also, I found that there were points in this where the book just felt so far beyond its 250 pages, and not necessarily in a good way. Had I not been so far enveloped in the story, I think it would’ve weighed far more heavy on me and made me become anxious to finally finish. If someone reads this and isn’t as interested in the nuances of a historical novel, I can see them easily growing bored with it. I, for the most part, did not, though I did feel its length, particularly at the beginning of the war section of the story.

One other thing that irritated me was the fade to black that we had for the first scene with actual penetration. There was a finger – and then just a brief summary that the night was most joyous. I’m greedy, I know this, but I wanted details. I suppose when you get to the end, it may make more sense as to why parts of the story were told as they were – simply through words and not actual dialogue between characters (these parts did coincide with the parts that began to feel a bit too lengthy to me, so that may speak to why those parts became particularly tedious).

Nevertheless, A Royal Affair is beautifully crafted and certainly a journey worth taking. I loved seeing not just a particular day or month in a characters life, but what truly felt like an entire, whole chapter of their life. This felt like I knew the characters for years, which was quite lovely. There is no doubt that I will be reading more by John Wiltshire, especially with the poetry he creates through the simplest of words.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is simply but perfect for the story. It doesn’t need any intricate cover with two men embracing or something that is commonly seen. The sword speaks for itself, and it makes for a striking first impression.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback       All Romance (ARe)        Amazon      Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish