A MelanieM Review: Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

From award-winning male/male author Josh Lanyon: a librarian finds himself in a plot right out of one of his favorite mystery novels

Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can’t pass up a chance to meet his favorite author.

Carter’s roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa’s books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler’s death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there’s anyone on the tour he can trust.

Drawn into the intrigue, Carter searches for answers, trying to fend off his growing attraction toward John. As unexplained tragedies continue, the whole tour must face the fact that there may be a murderer in their midst—but who?

Nothing better than diving into a Josh Lanyon murder mystery!  But I have to admit I have a fondness for librarians going back to my childhood and the endless hours I spent with them and their libraries, no matter what state I was living in at the time.  And of course, there’s that certain librarian  (The Mummy) who stood up and announced with utter confidence in her abilities to handle anything “I am a librarian!”.  As well she should.   As does Josh Lanyon’s intrepid librarian Carter Matheson deal with everything that comes at him, from the expected to the shocking, in this marvelous tale of murder and romance in Murder Takes the High Road.

Carter, you see, is on a trip of a sort I’ve always wanted to take for myself.  So it was easy to slide in next to him, along with the other author and series devotees visiting places important in books written by this author they adored.  However, there’s another huge element here.  Carter’s recent ex, the one he was supposed to be taking the trip with, is also on the tour with the new boyfriend.  The one he wanted Carter’s ticket for, the one that Carter refused to give up and is using now.  So many emotions in turmoil to go along with a long awaited tour that    Carter had been looking forward to.

Of course, Lanyon pours us into Carter’s soul and the  awkwardness and pain of the situation.  She let’s no small agony go passed by and soon we are deeply connected to Carter and the story (and everyone on the tour as well).  Before you can blink, there’s a murder..and mysteries, and a delightful handsome guy for Carter to share room, clues, and maybe just more with.

Yes, I ate this all up.

And at the end, when all the revelations were laid out, all the murderers exposed…I was totally satisfied.  Except that of course as with all of Josh Lanyon’s couples…I wanted more. Of them and more stories.  Can’t be helped.  It’s just the way of her stories.

So yes, I absolutely recommend Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon.  I loved it.  If you are a fan of murder mystery romances, I will you will too.  If you are a fan of this author, you’ve already read and know what I’m talking about.

Cover art is spectacular.  I just love it.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details: 

ebook
Expected publication: April 23rd 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleMurder Takes the High Road
ISBN139781459293595
Edition LanguageEnglish

A BJ Review: Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Winter Kills coverFBI Special Agent Adam Darling was moving up the ranks until a mishandling of a high profile operation left someone dead and his career on shaky ground. Now he’s working a serial killer case when him and his partner are sent to investigate a body in the little town of Nearby.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell is laid-back, easy going and a bit of a joker, but an efficient and tough cop. When the town Sheriff calls in the FBI on a cold case, Agent Darling comes to town and him and Rob enjoy an unexpected one-night stand before the man goes on his way. Rob doesn’t figure to see the intriguing man again, but when the curator of a Native American museum is murdered several months later, the Sheriff calls in the FBI a second time and asks specifically for Agent Darling. With the body count rising, it soon begins to appear that they may be investigating more than one serial killer—one past and one present.

There are actually two mysteries here going on at the same time, some cold cases from twenty years prior and some a modern killer. Could the killer be one and the same? Or are have two serial killers made the small town of Nearby their hunting ground?

The beginning of the story happens in the past from a POV that is never revisited (for a very good reason), and then we go to the varying POV of the two MC. That initial different point of view, the time jump, and then the other two points of views threw me off a bit, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like this for the first few chapters. But Lanyon’s writing is excellent as always, so I kept going and it paid off. I was soon sucked in.

The plot/mystery is quite complex. There is a lot going on, at one point almost too much, but it was reeled by in nicely. I enjoyed the setting, winter in a small, rural town, because rural is right up my ‘lives in middle of nowhere’ alley. I also enjoy reading stories with Native Americans and their histories and legends. The tough female cop who had instincts sharp enough to pick up on little things that even Rob had been overlooking was an awesome addition to the cast of characters. And the pairing of the laid-back, somewhat argumentative but humorous Rob with the more uptight, by the book, and troubled-by-past-events Adam worked well for me.

As far as the mystery in this book goes, there is no neatly tied up with bow ending. We do get to know who did what, but the motives, whys and wherefores are not fully explained. Some may complain about it not being scrupulously tied up. But I was fine with it. In real life, I tend to think the arresting cops don’t really get to know all that stuff, especially right away and in a scenario such as this set up. The guys don’t collect all the clues and put it all together to solve the mystery. They start to put bits and pieces together, and then WHAM, events explode and the stakes are instantly high. So maybe later when it comes to trail possibly the guys will find out more, but I accept that they wouldn’t know all that and found it to be just realistic

Towards the end, the focus shifted to the romance rather than tidying up all the loose ends and motives of the crime. The case was over, solved. In their past and time to focus on their own life. YES! I’m all in with that. In fact, the ending was my favorite part, and I don’t want to give too much away. However, I will say that I thought it was sad and yet brilliant the way Lanyon began the book with a hopeful man in love who didn’t get his HEA, and then wrapped it up with a hopeful HFN for the main couple.

There were two things that kept this from being a perfect five for me. First off, most of the sex scenes started off fun but ended as fade to black. Why? I wanted more. And second, for the first time in a Lanyon book, I found editing errors. Gasp.

Oh, and one more thing. I want to ask Josh Lanyon to please tell me the ex named Tucker that Adam Darling mentioned without a last name is NOT Elliott’s Tucker! Tucker and Elliott are a favorite couple.

The cover photo at the bottom gives a sense of place, season, cold; and the photo at top is right in your face–a gun sighted straight on you. ‘Go ahead, make my day.’ it seems to say. And this book might do just that.

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Book Details:

ebook, 181 pages
Published May 31st 2015 by Just Joshin
original titleWinter Kill
ISBN139781937909277
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.joshlanyon

A MelanieM Review: Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Play from bestselling author Josh Lanyon  

One final game of cat and mouse… 

Ex–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot’s hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn’t acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner’s gruesome mission.

When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it’s the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.

The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer’s twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.

I don’t know if Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon is the end for one of my favorite couples, Elliot Mills and Tucker Lance, but if it is, Josh Lanyon is sending them off in an magnificent “Bon Voyage” of a story!  Fair Game, the first story, is one novel I still return to when I want one of those comfort read romances, not because of the story line, which is downright horrific and scary but for the couple and the intense relationship and hot sex! That book never gets old.  Fair Play, the second story, was a little more problematic, still great, it dealt with Elliot’s father Roland Mills, his past with a sixties activist group and a missing person.  I love the interchange between Elliot and Roland, Roland and Tucker, and the dynamics between the three are always charged and somehow that book almost destroyed that for me (and them).   At the start of Fair Chance, things are still strained between father and son.

But Fair Chance?  It not only returns to the case and serial killer that made that such a stunning mystery, The Sculptor, but it takes the relationship between Elliot and Tucker and shows us just how far they’ve come from that first story.  The couple has worked on resolving their trust issues, open lines of communication between them and their partnership has evolved into a mature, warm, and deep-hearted strong one.  Still hot, amazingly sexy but now based more more than attraction, need and a love they were afraid to admit to.  All of which makes Tucker’s disappearance even more devastating when it occurs.

As others have  said, damn that blurb!  There are far too many elements given up there.  I wish that one in particular had not been mentioned.  But even with that huge one glaring at you (and a few more as well), Lanyon’s elegant writing, purposeful, elaborate construction of the mysteries and investigation, as well as the ever building suspense keeps one at the edge of both hope and despair along with Elliot.

Roland is present here as a steadying presence for his son just when he needs him the most and Elliot acquires a dog named Sheba, an amazing character in her own right.  All of these things are excellent and I  loved them.  But at the core here is Elliot, Tucker, and their love.  That’s at stake here with Tucker’s disappearance.  We never forget that, not for a moment.  Nor do we forget who Elliot is up against…evil incarnate in the form of the Sculptor and his plans for them both.  It’s a heart-stopping race and I was invested emotionally the entire story, and not just because of my love for this couple, but at the thought of just what was loose on those around them.  What an amazing read!

I highly recommend Fair Chance, along with its predecessors, Fair Game and Fair Play. This whole series is downright addictive as is this couple.  I hope Lanyon is going to continue the series but if she doesn’t she’s given them a powerful sendoff.  I couldn’t ask for more!

Cover art is ok.  I probably wouldn’t be happy with any cover depicting the characters as I have my own ideas of what they look like at any  age.

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Book Details:

ebook, 336 pages
Published March 13th 2017 by Carina Press
ISBN139781459293618
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAll’s Fair #3 settingWashington (United States)

A MelanieM Review: The Monet Murders (The Art of Murder #2) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Nothing I love better than diving back into a Josh Lanyon murder romance.  I love the tight writing, the skillfully constructed mysteries and the complex  relationships between the main characters.  It’s never, never an easy romance.  The obstacles between the men are often huge, sometimes or frequently of their own making, and by the end of the story, it can still be a question mark as to if they are together or will stay that way.  On top of dealing with their own issues and that of their personal dynamics, they have their cases and killers to deal with.  It’s just outstanding!

When The Monet Murders story picks up, the conflicted relationship of Jason West and Sam Kennedy, two FBI agents is again in an uncertain stage.  It doesn’t help that FBI Special Agent Jason West’s Art Crimes Unit is in Los Angeles and Sam Kennedy is in Quantico, VA in the Behavioral Analysis Unit as their Chief.  What it takes to bring them together again, at least physically is a murder or three, all starting with a phone call from Sam.

It kicks off with Jason at the special dedication gala of a museum wing for his grandfather.  We get another peek into the prestigious family background and makeup that belongs to Jason West.  More of that will be filled in later as the story progresses.  It’s a call to action and one that Jason eagerly answers as it means that he will be seeing Sam once more.

Lanyon gives us a crime scene under the Santa Monica pier that starts us off on the  Monet Murders and the reunion of Jason and Sam.  Needless to say nothing about that crime scene bodes well for the couple or for the case.  The LAPD called them in but some of the local cops aren’t happy about having the FBI there, it seems to tie in with another case Jason and  Sam are already working, but then again maybe not.  Muddied clues abound as does the relationship (or non relationship) between Jason and Sam.  The stress and tension is vivid, pouring off the page, a testament to the author’s ability to create just the perfect atmosphere for this scene and meeting.

A fake Monet, so poorly painted as  to be garish, ties more murders together.  As the investigation continues and Jason’s case opens up further leads to involve older crimes, I was just completely hooked.  I love the art elements here, and the mysteries (and side stories) were completely fascinating.  Woven in between the various investigations and detective work, is the romance and shaky relationship between Sam and Jason.  As before, the sex scenes between these two are combustible, making it even harder each time Sam pulls away.  How I love these two even as I want to throttle Sam.

There’s a scary island full of graveyards, some terrific action/suspense scenes to have you quaking as you read and enough plot twists and turns to keep the mystery lover satisfied.  The romance too had an ending that I just loved, although this is Josh Lanyon and her characters so you know I want to add a for now here.

The Monet Murders (The Art of Murder #2) by Josh Lanyon is a splendiferous book.  It left this reader satisfied on so many levels, the mystery lover adored the murder mysteries and how the case was solved, the romance lover can’t get enough of this couple, their convoluted relationship and their path to HEA or whatever they are going to end up with.  The Art of Murder series is ranking high on my all time favorites with just two stories so far so I can’t wait to see what book three brings.  I highly recommend them.

Cover by Johanna Ollila.  I like the cover with Monet’s Lilies painting on t-shirt.  Nice.

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 311 pages
Published May 25th 2017 by JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
ASINB01MYC6ZOZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Art of Murder :

A MelanieM Review: Murder Between the Pages by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

murder-between-the-pages-by-josh-lanyonFelix Day, author of the Constantine Sphinx mysteries, and Leonard Fuller, author of the Inspector Fez mysteries, are bitter rivals and the best of enemies. Both happen to present when a notorious author of roman à clef is shot by an invisible assailant during a signing at historic Marlborough Bookstore.

Even if they weren’t both suspects, it’s the perfect opportunity to match wits and sleuthing skills.

If only the murderer was equally amused.

Murder Between the Pages by Josh Lanyon combines so many of my  favorites elements.  You have two main characters who happen to write murder mysteries of the type that were popular in the 40’s (and now, they never go  out of style).  They both have incredible past histories, war experiences that have marked them severely enough that neither feels suited to a “typical” return to normal life after the war.  And of course, you have the murder (sometimes murders) mysteries to be investigated and solved by the end of the story.  Romance too, lets not forget.

All wrapped up in a story that involved snappy dialog, beautifully layered characters, and an historical tone and feel that has the post war era all over it.  I loved  it all, from the author hostilities at the book club over their very similiar detectives to the terms used by gay men to signal their sexuality to each other in the 40’s.  Just so well done.

Of course, Josh Lanyon is a favorite author of mine for exactly the same reasons I loved this story.  Its short but doesn’t feel that way.  Its concise and yet at times, I could slow my reading down and admire the language and descriptions of the men and locations.  There’s my regret of a lost character who came and went too soon.  He was so well written even for one so briefly known, full-flavored and believable.

And then there’s the mystery. It comes with just the right amount of angst and flair for the dramatic.

I adore stories like this, can’t get enough of them.  Luckily I have Josh Lanyon who seems to love writing them as much as I love reading them.  Now I can’t wait for the next one to flow off Lanyon’s pen or what have you.

Cover art is superb.  Love it too.

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 144 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
ASIN B01K2M0QXG
Edition Language English

A BJ Review: The Mermaid Murders (The Art of Murder #1) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

The Mermaid MurdersSpecial Agent Jason West is seconded from the FBI Art Crime Team to temporarily partner with disgraced, legendary “manhunter” Sam Kennedy when it appears that Kennedy’s most famous case, the capture and conviction of a serial killer known as The Huntsman, may actually have been a disastrous failure.

For The Huntsman is still out there…and the killing has begun again.

Lanyon’s writing was a excellent as ever, dragging me into plot, relationship and setting in no time flat. The mystery in this one was outstanding, and kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. The chemistry between the two guys also grabbed me by the throat early on. The snappy pace of the mystery and the slower pace of the attraction worked perfectly together and kept me completely enthralled.

Some of the things I enjoyed about this story included the vividly drawn small town setting and its population of characters. The super creepy Rexford ghost town. The spooky mystery woven with elements of not-quite paranormal, with psychos of various types side by side with everyday normal, not evil folks who just make mistakes. The whole atmosphere of the book was so rich and palpable that it gave me that delightfully creepy, unsettled feeling that a few of my favorite movies do. And then there’s not-all-that-handsome, but big, strong, forceful, smart, legend Sam Kennedy who starts out seeming like a total asshat but slowly reveals an absolutely irresistible vulnerable side beneath the gruff exterior. Yum with a cherry on top! Jason is a perfect match for him, very distinct, struggling with his recent past, described as a “pretty boy,” but tough in his own right.

While I adored the events at the end, it had me groaning and turning the page in hopes that it wasn’t really the end. Not a fade to black, not right then! I wanted more. And no more for over a year according to the afterward notation–*heavy sigh* Darn. Josh Lanyon has a bunch of series going right now and, unlike many m/m writers who keep going when they’re on a roll, she keep starting more new one to tantalize us with rather than finishing up the existing ones.

I do love the little tie ins we find in many of them. This one is a bit related to Winter Kill, well, actually according to the afterward, book two will cover that timeframe. I am eager to read on. But hate yet another long wait ahead… hence, the lack of a perfect five stars.

Although I like the guy’s eyes, the cover isn’t a particular favorite since to me it doesn’t convey much of anything about the story.

Sales Links:  ARe | Amazon 

Book Details:

book
Published February 29th 2016 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781937909826

A MelanieM New Adult Review: Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Jefferson Blythe Esq coverIn this fast, fun and dead-sexy male/male new-adult caper from multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon, twentysomething Jefferson Blythe gets lost, gets found, falls in love and comes out…all in the span of one wild summer

After his first relationship goes disastrously awry, Jeff Blythe uses his savings to tour Europe—the old-fashioned way. Armed with his grandfather’s 1960 copy of Esquire’s Europe in Style, Jeff sets off looking for adventure but finds much, much more than he bargained for…

In London, dodging questions from shady criminals about a mysterious package he most certainly does not have is simple. Losing the gunmen who are convinced he’s someone else is not. And when George, an old friend, offers him help—and a place to stay, and perhaps something more—things become complicated.

Is George really who he seems? And is Jeff finally ready to act on his attraction?

From Paris to Rome and back again, Jeff and George fall for each other, hard, while quite literally running for their lives. But trusting George at his word may leave Jeff vulnerable—in more ways than one.

Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is simply something new and yet totally Josh Lanyon at the same time.  A new adult story told from the point of view of Jeff Blythe, a young man fleeing across the ocean from an expected marriage he knew was wrong for both of them. With his grandfather’s heavily noted (and need we say outdated) 1960 copy of Esquire’s Europe in Style in hand, Jeff decides to tour Europe using that as his guide.  Oh, the naivete’.  And yes, it all starts going disastrously awry from the start, ala Josh Lanyon style.

One of the elements that I have always loved about Lanyon’s style is the way the author combines humor with bleak reality.  The main character is often at their lowest point and yet some small bit of humor or a slight funny line of dialog will slide into the moment, making it still real but  more human and a tad lighter.  It happens here right at the start when Jeff goes from plane, making his way laboriously to the place where he expects to  stay. Its a fight all the way and when he gets there?  More awfulness ensues…to our shock and hilarity.

But that start is our introduction to Jeff Blythe. We see the start of his learning process and the beginning of what will be an exponential tour of growth as he learns about himself, who he wants to be and who he wants to be with.  That would be George, a former friend who now lives in London and isn’t exactly who he tells Jeff, or “Jefferson” as George calls him, exactly who he seems to be.    What follows is a series of mishaps, investigations, theft, and all sorts of things criminal across Europe in increasing degrees of seriousness until Jeff is finally involved in murder.

There is a pattern here that Lanyon lays out for Jefferson and the reader.  Things start to unfold, events happen, Jefferson and George try to move forward and Jefferson leaves to another part of Europe while growing emotionally, criminals follow as do more threatening events, Jefferson grows increasingly resourceful and independent…and the story just gets better.  I won’t spoil it further.  I did find myself thinking fondly about those wonderful 60’s films with Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, superb background music, thieves playing out across Europe with their clever dialog.  But there was no self discovery in those films as there is here, no Jefferson Blythe to adore and rejoice in as he realizes he is resourceful, gay and knows exactly who it is he loves.  I want more Jefferson Blythe, I really do.

I did waver a bit about that ending. Did I love it? Wish it was longer?  Finally I decided it was the perfect way for Jefferson Blythe to end his journey.  At least for the moment.

I loved this story and hope that Josh Lanyon takes more adventures in new adult novels.  I highly recommend this story and author.

Cover art captures the essence of the character and story. Lovely.

Sales Links:  Carina Press |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: November 16th 2015 by Carina Press
ASINB00Z726LZ4
edition language English

A BJ Review: Winter (The Haunted Heart #1) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Winter the Haunted Heart coverStill grieving the sudden death of his lover, antiques dealer Flynn Ambrose moves to his uncle’s old, ramshackle house on Pitch Pine Lane to catalog and sell the large inventory of arcane and oddball items that once filled his late uncle’s mysterious museum.

Flynn suffered a serious breakdown and attempted to kill himself after his lover’s unexpected death, and he’s still very depressed despite the counseling and help from his parents. He needs space and makes a deal with his parents (which I won’t share details of as too much of a spoiler) that allows him to travels to the rather secluded property to perform the inventory. Unexpectedly, he finds himself seeing a ghost in an old mirror. The only one Flynn has to turn to is Kirk, the thirteen year older, slightly grouchy but handsome playwright renting the downstairs of his house. When Kirk is also witness to the apparition, he can’t write Flynn’s problem off as easily as he had wanted to. When the ghost seems able to exit the mirror, the guys find themselves trying figure out what to do about the mirror before the ghost does them in. But getting rid of the thing isn’t as easy as it seems.

This book is bit of a step back to the scary stories of old… and it is scary folks. But then, I knew Lanyon could do horror after reading In a Dark Woods came out of nowhere and scared the heck out of me. This one is not of the gory variety where stuff is thrown in just for the ick factor either. This is tried and true, get inside your head and freak you out kind of scary. It will make you want to read with the lights on, it will make you think, and it might also make you cry.

This story has several elements I loved. First, as you’d expect from Lanyon, there’s a well-done and very interesting mystery that takes us on a compelling journey into the prejudices of the past. But it’s also the tender and heartbreaking story of a young man trying to deal with suddenly losing the man he grew up with and had thought he’d spend his entire life with to such a incredibly freak accident at entirely too young an age. Flynn’s situation is so heartrending. He’s in no way over what happened, and yet we see glimpses of his underlying strength in the way he handles the events and the manor. Then there’s Kirk, a Ranger in Afghanistan who appears to be suffering from PTSD, although we didn’t get much depth to his backstory just yet. I am so eager to learn more about both these men and follow along their journey, hopefully to each other.

Winter is an excellent mystery with wonderful character building and just a touch of heat, but if you want insta-love and lots of hot sex, this one doesn’t quite fill that bill. What we have here is more of a romance in bloom, and I found that both refreshing and perfect for book one of a series. Wait, maybe it is insta-love in a way, because it certainly did make me fall in love with both Kirk and Flynn.

I enjoyed the way the mystery plays out ties and the tantalizing little clue tidbit at the end rounds it out perfectly. Overall this is an excellent ghost story to read this October.

Cover art. Just look at that lovely, eerie, moody cover! It’s beautiful. Highly recommended read.

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


Book Details:  

ebook, 147 pages
Published August 26th 2013 by Josh Lanyon (first published January 1st 2013)
ISBN13 9781937909482
edition language English

A BJ Review: Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Winter Kills coverFBI Special Agent Adam Darling was moving up the ranks until a mishandling of a high profile operation left someone dead and his career on shaky ground. Now he’s working a serial killer case when him and his partner are sent to investigate a body in the little town of Nearby.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell is laid-back, easy going and a bit of a joker, but an efficient and tough cop. When the town Sheriff calls in the FBI on a cold case, Agent Darling comes to town and him and Rob enjoy an unexpected one-night stand before the man goes on his way. Rob doesn’t figure to see the intriguing man again, but when the curator of a Native American museum is murdered several months later, the Sheriff calls in the FBI a second time and asks specifically for Agent Darling. With the body count rising, it soon begins to appear that they may be investigating more than one serial killer—one past and one present.

There are actually two mysteries here going on at the same time, some cold cases from twenty years prior and some a modern killer. Could the killer be one and the same? Or are have two serial killers made the small town of Nearby their hunting ground?

The beginning of the story happens in the past from a POV that is never revisited (for a very good reason), and then we go to the varying POV of the two MC. That initial different point of view, the time jump, and then the other two points of views threw me off a bit, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like this for the first few chapters. But Lanyon’s writing is excellent as always, so I kept going and it paid off. I was soon sucked in.

The plot/mystery is quite complex. There is a lot going on, at one point almost too much, but it was reeled by in nicely. I enjoyed the setting, winter in a small, rural town, because rural is right up my ‘lives in middle of nowhere’ alley. I also enjoy reading stories with Native Americans and their histories and legends. The tough female cop who had instincts sharp enough to pick up on little things that even Rob had been overlooking was an awesome addition to the cast of characters. And the pairing of the laid-back, somewhat argumentative but humorous Rob with the more uptight, by the book, and troubled-by-past-events Adam worked well for me.

As far as the mystery in this book goes, there is no neatly tied up with bow ending. We do get to know who did what, but the motives, whys and wherefores are not fully explained. Some may complain about it not being scrupulously tied up. But I was fine with it. In real life, I tend to think the arresting cops don’t really get to know all that stuff, especially right away and in a scenario such as this set up. The guys don’t collect all the clues and put it all together to solve the mystery. They start to put bits and pieces together, and then WHAM, events explode and the stakes are instantly high. So maybe later when it comes to trail possibly the guys will find out more, but I accept that they wouldn’t know all that and found it to be just realistic

Towards the end, the focus shifted to the romance rather than tidying up all the loose ends and motives of the crime. The case was over, solved. In their past and time to focus on their own life. YES! I’m all in with that. In fact, the ending was my favorite part, and I don’t want to give too much away. However, I will say that I thought it was sad and yet brilliant the way Lanyon began the book with a hopeful man in love who didn’t get his HEA, and then wrapped it up with a hopeful HFN for the main couple.

There were two things that kept this from being a perfect five for me. First off, most of the sex scenes started off fun but ended as fade to black. Why? I wanted more. And second, for the first time in a Lanyon book, I found editing errors. Gasp.

Oh, and one more thing. I want to ask Josh Lanyon to please tell me the ex named Tucker that Adam Darling mentioned without a last name is NOT Elliott’s Tucker! Tucker and Elliott are a favorite couple.

The cover photo at the bottom gives a sense of place, season, cold; and the photo at top is right in your face–a gun sighted straight on you. ‘Go ahead, make my day.’ it seems to say. And this book might do just that.

Sales Links:   All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here
Book Details:

ebook, 181 pages
Published May 31st 2015 by Just Joshin
original titleWinter Kill
ISBN139781937909277
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.joshlanyon

A BJ Review: In Sunshine or in Shadow (Short Stories, Volume 1) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

In Sunshine or in Shadow coverHere we have thirteen juicy short stories from Josh Lanyon written between 2007 and 2013. These may be short, but most of them pack a decent punch of sexy, sweet emotion and even scary! This is available as a paperback from Amazon or as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible.

In Plain Sight – 5 stars

Oh my, this one had the feels. Very emotional and had me on the edge of my seat. FBI agent Nash met police officer Glen during a training. They have an instant attraction and spend some times together. But Nash lives in another state and he doesn’t believe in love. Then Glen goes missing the day Nash flies home, right after he walked out of the airport from seeing him off. This is a very short little mystery that absolutely touched my heart as Nash goes back to join the hunt and refuses to give up even with Glen’s fellow officers want to. His faith in Glen, his tenacious hope and determination… oh, how I wish for more of this story.

Perfect Day – 5 stars

On a camping trip, Wyatt lets the L word slip big time during a hot and heavy session. Unfortunately, he’s well aware that his lover, Graham, is far from over his last boyfriend, Jase, and thus his declaration isn’t going to sit well. What ensues is a short, sweet and perfect little story that had me teary eyed nearly from page one. In only twenty-eight pages, this ran the gamut from breaking my heart to making it soar and came complete with all the tentative stages of hope in between! Josh Lanyon writes beautifully. Darn it all, I wish I could use words like this for just one day… now that would be my perfect day.

In a Dark Wood – 5 stars

Holy hell in a handbasket! I was not expecting this one. Do NOT read reviews and spoilers until after you’ve read this story! This starts off like a typical contemporary, good but tame and low key. I totally didn’t see what was coming until it smacked me upside the head. Because this is some scary stuff! Tim is such a messed up, broken character… I love him and totally must have more. Which is why I have already purchased book two to read on. Who knew Josh Lanyon can write horror just as good as Stephen King?

Until We Meet Once More – 5 stars

I don’t usually like war stories, but I’ve come to think that Lanyon could write just about anything and manage to pull me into it. This is a second chance love story set right in the trenches of a military conflict. Army Ranger Captain Vic Black and his team are tasked with the rescue of a Navy SEAL. The man turns out to be none other than his former, and never forgotten, lover Lt. Commander Sean Kennedy. This is an edge-of-the-seat, high tension, life or death, emotional read. I completely adored this short and really wish it had been longer.

In Sunshine or In Shadow – 5 stars

This was one of the sweetest, most romantic little shorts I’ve read in a long time! Two cops—one admittedly a bit of the asshat variety at the beginning—but he manages to pull it out in the nick of time. Rick and Kier are partners that had been lovers for a short time, but when one is nearly injured on the job, the other pulls away and refuses to face his emotions. Unable to go on like that anymore, Kier makes the decision to quit the force and take a vacation before moving on with his life. A lovely little read set in Los Angeles and then Ireland. I love Josh Lanyon. Now I’m gonna go listen to Danny Boy. Again.

Just Desserts – 4 stars

I’m a sucker for broken guys, so this one drew me in despite being quite strange at some points. Starts out with Ridge as a very bitter man bound to a wheelchair and enduring constant pain after an accident caused by his drunkenly cousin. Ridge had me fascinated while at the same time quite chilled as he plots murdering his cousin. It’s all dark and dire. Then here comes Tug, his new physical therapist, like a bright ray of sunshine into his dark world. Tug manages to help him with the pain… inside and out. Loved the ending. Part of the Petit Morts series.

Heart Trouble – 3.5 stars

A young man with a family history of heart trouble goes to the doctor sure he’s suffering a heart attack. Ford is low on funds, has few friends, suffers writer’s block and isn’t even out of the closet. He’s a naïve and struggling young man when he meets Jacob. But the emergency room doctor who helps him, is calm, assured and compassionate and maybe the perfect prescription. This one is very short and sweet.

The French Have a Word for It – 3.5 stars

Set in Paris, well-written, well-paced and sweet, but a bit predictable. It’s a second chance story in which Colin and Thomas meet again after ten years apart. Colin, now an artist in Paris, was kidnapped at 14 and Thomas was the man who saved him. Thomas was Colin’s first crush. I think what I liked most about this was how Colin as an artist was woven into it—excellent use of sensory an color sprinkled in that made me feel his descriptions ringing as uniquely him.

Other People’s Weddings – 3.5 stars

A fun story about a very out of the closet wedding planner living in a small town. I enjoyed Griffin, he was a fun character with quirky clients. Lots of potential, but the ending was really very abrupt, even for a short story. Also there isn’t too much of a romance in this story, just a hint that something might come of it. Part of the Petit Morts series.

Sort of Stranger Than Fiction – 3.5 stars

Ethan and his sister own a bookstore, a family legacy. Ethan is one of only a few gay men in his small town, and when a mysterious scarred man opens a dojo next door to his shop, Ethan quickly develops a crush. But he suffers from foot in mouth disease and gets off on a bad foot. The things he said in Michael hearing seriously made me cringe for him even knowing he didn’t mean them. Then a serial killer surfaces in their small town. Overall, felt this had a lot of potential. But then the ending was super abrupt, leaving me scratching my head and wondering what just happened. Loved Michael and would have liked more about him. Part of the Petit Morts series.

Slings and Arrows – 3 stars

Carey has a secret admirer. He receives a mysterious box of chocolates a couple days before Valentine’s Day, something which begins to seriously trouble him when friends tell him about a serial killer that uses that exact MO and has been stalking their campus. The mystery didn’t work well for me and parts read very slow, unusual for a short. But I did find the ending satisfying and enjoyable. Part of the Petit Morts series.

Critic’s Choice – 3 stars

Cris is a movie critic hired to work on a commentary on a classic horror film alongside the cheating ex that he broke up with six months prior. It’s clear pretty quickly that Cris is also not over Rey. The process of the job they were doing was quite interesting, and I enjoyed the old horror movie feel of the parts where the car breaks down on the dark road and the creepy gothic mansion. The romance was sweet, but having the sweet shop appear where it did was a bit weird. Overall an enjoyable read. Part of the Petit Morts series.

A Limited Engagement – 2.5 stars

This one was by far my least favorite in this anthology. Still excellent writing, as always from this author, but the beginning confused me—because one main character strangling the other? Excuse me! Then blackmail as a means to win love/attention? Despite all that and it did have a sweet ending. Go figure.

Amazon eBook Sales Link for A Limited Engagement.

The cover was sexy, although in general black and white covers aren’t my favorite. I like a bit of color to make it pop.

Paperback Sales Link:  Amazon     Buy It Here

Paperback, 348 pages, also available as a audiobook
Published June 6th 2013 by Just Joshin
ISBN 1937909476 (ISBN13: 9781937909475)
edition languageEnglish