Love a Mysteries? Check Out the Release Blitz for Ace in the Picture by Jude Tresswell (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Ace in the Picture

Author: Jude Tresswell

Publisher: Rowanvale Books

Cover Artist: Billie Hastie

Genre/s: contemporary M/M/M/M, crime/mystery

Heat Rating: 2 flames

Length: 63 000 words/ 251 pages (paperback format)

It can be read as a standalone, but is also the third book featuring the County Durham quad

Release Date: March 31, 2019

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 An art fraud, a polyamorous suspect, an asexual detective…

Blurb

Polyamory and asexuality meet in this third tale about a north-east England quad.

The police suspect Raith Balan of faking a painting. So do money-launderers who sink profits into art. Mike, Ross and Phil, the three men in Raith’s life, must prove his innocence. They’re hampered by their certainty that a member of the Fraud Squad is corrupt.

The senior investigating officer is Detective Sergeant Nick Seabrooke. He knows he is asexual, but is he aromantic too? As Raith’s lovers struggle to keep Raith safe and find the fraudster, the sergeant struggles to understand why the quad is often in his thoughts.

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Raith stood in the kitchen in front of the calendar. His gaze shifted from the naked figure depicted on ‘October’ to the highlighted ‘Thursday 12th’ and back again. He pressed a fingertip to his lips, transferred a kiss to the mid-point of the figure’s shoulder blades and ran his finger down the spine—Mike Angells’ spine.

The real-life Mike walked into the room and filled the kettle.

“What are you admirin’?” he asked. “The model or the artist?”

Raith was the artist. “The artist,” he replied. “He’s classy. The model’s okay, I suppose.”

“Cheeky!” Mike admonished.

Changing the subject, Raith asked, “You know what day it is in two days’ time, don’t you?”

“In two days? Well, let’s see… difficult one… It must be Thursday. Aye, that’s right. It was Monday yesterday, so—”

“Stop teasing me! Do you think he’s forgotten?”

‘He’ was Phil Roberts, the man Raith had married 364 days earlier.

“Don’t be daft. Of course not. You know Phil. His middle name’s ‘No fuss’.”

“That’s two names.”

“And that’s two cups of coffee. One for you. One for me,” said Mike, handing over a mug.

“None for me?” asked a third man who, yawning, had entered the kitchen. He hugged the two men already there.

“Sorry, Ross,” Mike apologised. “I didn’t make you one. I thought you were still asleep.”

“No. Just dozy,” said Ross sleepily. “I heard Phil’s car. Is it an emergency, Raith?”

“Not exactly,” Raith replied. “He went in early to cover for a colleague.”  

Phil had helped to pioneer a form of rectal surgery that used nanocarbon patches to reconstruct torn tissue. He was a respected consultant at the hospital an hour’s drive away in Warbridge, County Durham.

“I’d better get sorted and get out myself,” said Ross. He was, amongst other things, a gallery proprietor in Gateshead, and his journey to work took longer than Phil’s. He yawned again.

“Are you feelin’ okay?” asked Mike, alert to Ross’s tone of voice. “It’s not like you to sound so unenthusiastic about work.” In fact, it wasn’t like Ross to sound unenthusiastic about anything. He was always lively—he personified keenness.

“I’m dead tired cos I didn’t sleep well. I had a strange text late on. You were already asleep. I don’t think you heard the phone buzz. Strange. Unsettling.”

“Oh?”

“How do you mean?” asked Raith. “We’re not going to get involved with more criminal activities, are we? I had enough of crime fighting last time!”

Even though Mike was no longer a detective with the Tees, Tyne and Wear Constabulary, the four of them were involved in a surprising amount of crime fighting. ‘Last time’ had involved an illegal immigrant, and the tensions that had arisen had threatened the survival of the quad.

That’s what they were: a gay, polyamorous quad. They lived in Tunhead, a hamlet in Weardale in the Durham hills. Once, Tunhead had rung to the sound of workers’ hammers hitting stone. In a way it still did: Ross had turned it into an arts centre full of smiths, sculptors and potters who wanted to escape the North East’s towns.

“Well, we’re not, are we?” Raith repeated.

“No.”

“Good. Well, my creations won’t create themselves. I’d better get off, too.”

In Raith’s case, ‘getting off’ simply meant walking twenty yards to his studio, a converted storehouse.

“You sure he hasn’t forgotten?” he asked Mike again before he left.

“I’m sure.”

“Okay then.”

“What’s that about?” asked Ross after Raith was gone.

“He’s bothered that Phil’s forgotten their anniversary.”

“He hasn’t.”

“I know he hasn’t. He’s takin’ him off on a trip sumwhere—but you know Raith. He needs everythin’ crystal clear and written in capital letters. And sumtimes, so do I. What was this message about?”

Ross pulled a face and explained. When he’d done so, Mike could understand his concern.

“He wouldn’t be so stupid, Ross… Would he?”

“Not stupid, Mike, but he’s gullible. He doesn’t always think. I just don’t know.”

***

The message stayed in Ross’s mind during the forty-mile drive to the gallery and he couldn’t forget about it once he was there. Some of Raith’s paintings hung on the gallery walls. They were mainly of Weardale’s waterfalls. After heavy rain, the falls transformed from gentle trickles into rushing, gushing powerful forces of nature that the four men knew could kill. They’d seen them kill.

Raith loved to paint the waterfalls. From a distance, his torrents looked alive. The effect was linked to his use of colour. Raith was a tetrachromat; he could see a host of hues in what, to most people, was a single shade. He painted for himself, though, not for fame or money—he had plenty of both, due to his skill with clay not brushes. Several of his wares were on show at the gallery, most tagged ‘sold’ with a price that would feed and clothe all four men for a long, long time. His sensually erotic sculptures, modelled on Mike and Phil, were always in demand and beautifully, lovingly executed. But today, Ross gave Raith’s erotica a miss. He stared, instead, at the waterfalls.

What might induce Raith to produce a piece of work “with intent to deceive”, as the legal phrase was?

That was what the worrying message had suggested. That Raith’s were the hands and eyes behind a painting that the police were interested in. They thought it was a fake. For the umpteenth time, Ross asked himself why?

Raith didn’t need fame and he didn’t need fortune, but did he need the challenge of outwitting the experts? Of copying another artist’s work so accurately that no one would notice the difference?

Surely not. Momentarily, Ross’s dark mood lifted. The only challenge Raith was likely to rise to was the one of finding ways to spice up the quad’s evening meals. Two nights ago, he’d ‘accidentally’ stumbled near the saucepan with a teaspoon of chilli flakes in his hand.

“Oh, look! They’ve fallen in,” he’d said apologetically.

Ross smiled when he thought about it, but anxiety soon returned. Could Raith be feeling resentment? Sometimes, that was the driving force behind a fraud. Failed artists whose work had been refused once too often. Failed artists who took I’ll show them! literally.

No. All Raith’s resentments were little ones that quickly blew over—feeling nagged for not doing his turn on the house-keeping rota, being yelled at for leaving clay-covered dirty washing on top of the pile of clean laundry. Raith took umbrage easily, but he’d be smiling again within the hour. And anyway, he wasn’t a failed artist. He was a very successful one.

He was a strange mixture though. That complexity was part of his attraction. It was part of what made him Raith. His skill was undeniable, but his mental health was fragile— ‘bloody unhinged’ was how Mike would describe Raith in less charitable moments. He could be unpredictable. He could be very violent. He had another side, though, and it was what Mike and Phil and Ross adored about him. Canny, clued up, an ex-con hard as nails… but at the toss of a coin, as loving, as sweet and as trusting as anyone they had ever met. Mike was as loving, and often as sweet, but trusting? No. Mike was ex-CID. It wasn’t in his nature to be trusting.

Which was why Mike was already making phone calls.

 

About the Author 

I’m not Nick Seabrooke, the ace in the picture, but there are some firsthand truths peeping through the fiction. Like Nick, I’m ace and happy with it, but also, like Nick, I’m wavery on that ro/aro line–and that can cause some soul-searching. If the picture painted in the story is a very narrow one, it’s because I didn’t want to stray too far from what I know. The quad, however, are totally imaginary.

I blog at https://polyallsorts.wordpress.com . There are posts about asexuality, polyamory, beer, tattoos, book covers, and many other story-related items. There are photos of the Durham countryside, the setting of the stories, too.  I’m always happy to receive and respond to comments. Well, if they’re friendly ones!

 

Author Link

Blog/Website

 

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Review: Enigma by Lloyd A. Meeker

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Enigma coverSingle, fifty and gay Rhys “Russ”  Morgan is also a psychic empath, something that both helps him in his job as a Private Investigator and hurts when the contact is with someone whose thoughts and actions are less than honorable.  And his latest job is making those hidden gifts twitch and ache.

Russ has been hired to find out the identity of a blackmailer.  The blackmailer’s target is the high-profile televangelist whose son was supposedly “cured” of his homosexuality fifteen years ago in front of the televangelist’s congregation.  Now the blackmailer, using the songs from an Enigma’s album, The Cross of Changes, is sending notes and demands to the televangelist and the law office representing him thinks that “vengeful homosexuals” are behind the scheme.    Their solution?  Hire a homosexual to catch a homosexual.

Russ takes the case but not exactly for the reasons his clients think.  Justice wields a two sided sword and those cut by its blade are not always the ones you would expect.

The book Enigma was a lovely discovery for me.  I found a new author, new publisher and hopefully a new series to follow.  Lloyd A. Meeker is a find, and according to his acknowledgements, he is new to the mystery genre as well.  In my opinion, he did a great job.

I really enjoyed the character of Russ Morgan.  Older, currently sober and a psychic empath, he clearly has a huge story to tell.  I found him fascinating and the “voice” given to him by the author is intriguing. Its perfect in tone and vocabulary, as Russ’ age and experience just rolls off his tongue.  This holds true for Russ’ inner monologue, the reader’s companion throughout the story. In fact, I liked Russ Morgan so much that the tantalizing bits of information that we are offered about his past and his gift left me a little frustrated and wanting more, a good thing when laying out a series.

The other characters involved in the mystery are nicely fleshed out, very realistic human beings.  I believed in them and others will too. Colin, James, even the parsimonious Andrew Kommen capture and keep your interest as Russ winds his way through a labyrinth of lies fabricated by the reverend to protect  himself and his interests.

As a huge fan of the mystery genre, I will admit that I guessed the identity of the blackmailer early on.  However, that did not take away from my enjoyment of the story and the final reveal.  And I loved, loved, the use of songs from that Enigma album.  That was such a great element and it should send anyone not familiar with that band and their songs scrambling to iTunes for a listen to the compelling melodies and lyrics.

I recommend Enigma and Lloyd A. Meeker and can’t wait to see where he takes this series and detective next.

Cover art by Adrian Nichols, Art Director of  Wilde City Press.   Beautiful cover.

Book Details:

ebook. 18.000 words
Published August 28th 2013 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925031409

Review of Scrap Metal by Harper Fox

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Rating: 5 stars

When a bus crash kills his mother and brother, Nichol Seacliff’s dreams of completing his linguistic degree and becoming a translator ends.  Needed on the family hold on Arran Isle, Nichol returns to stone rooms full of memories and his stern grandfather, Harry.  Now he spends his days with sheep, mired in mud and watching his family’s farm fall deeper into financial ruin and neglect. Patriarch Harry Seacliff, always a man of few words, speaks harshly to his less favored grandson when he speaks to him at all. This leaves Nichol grieving and alone, far from the university, his friends, and  any gay relationships.

One night he hears the window break in an outbuilding and finds a young man hiding behind the hay, wet and blue from the cold.   The trespasser introduces himself as Cameron, Cam for short and tells Nichol he is on the run from a gang in Glasgow.  Nichol’s sympathetic nature triumphs over caution, and he finds himself bringing Cam inside the house to get warm, have something to eat and put on dry clothes.  One nights stay lengthens into more as Cam endears himself first to Nichol and then, in a remarkable turn of events, to Harry as well,   As winter turns into spring on Seacliff Farm,  Nichol watches amazed as Cam forms a bridge between Harry and himself.  He finds he is falling in love with Cam more each day and the idea of remaining on the farm becomes less painful with someone to share it with.

And then Cam’s past comes back to threaten their love and the safety of all who live on Seacliff Farm.  When Cameron’s secret is known,who will pay the price of actions long past?

What an incredible story.  From the opening sentence, the reader finds themselves immersed deep in Scottish culture, roaming over the hills of Arran, listening to the murmurs of the Gaelic language and watching for splashes of mermaids just off shore.  Harper Fox has done such a excellent job of describing the island of Arran that I felt I had traveled there by the Calmac Ferry. Her love for the people, their culture and the land that gave birth to both flows like a wild river through the story. Indeed,  her vivid portraits of the populace,and their abodes will make you feel as though you know them. The passages on life in the old farmhouse have a way of plonking me down next to the Aga in the kitchen, listening to Nichol’s grumblings on the miserly candle left burning to light the cold room, so real does Harper Fox make it.  The rhythm of the Gaelic tongue is the rhythm of life itself on those rocky shores and cliffs.  A ancient language whose written form bears little resemblance to the spoken word, Gaelic weaves itself through the heart of the story, overflowing the pages until one yearns to speak those words, to understand their meaning.  I cannot begin to do justice here to its importance and beauty.  Here is a small sampling:

After Harry had told Nichol that he lost the language. “But I haven’t. That was what I wanted to say to Harry. I remember every word you taught me, in here with the book and out on the moors and the shore where you pointed to dobhar, the otter, iasg-dearg, the salmon, the eagle iolair whose name you pronounced like the upward yearning of wings—oh-lia, oh-lia.”

And another:

“Beauty. Music. I still couldn’t look at Harry, but from the corner of my eye I saw that his grip on the chair had relaxed. I couldn’t forget the poems, not when I was taught them so young. Did you hear me, old man? It’s the nearest I can come to saying sorry. I turned the page. The summer poem was long, a great cadenced paean to life such as only a man who’d lived through West Isles winters could sing. Softly I began the next verse. Harry stood listening for a few moments longer then quietly walked out of the kitchen, pulling the door shut behind him.”

(Harper Fox. Scrap Metal,  Samhain Publishing, Ltd.)

Time and again, Harper Fox brings us to tears and laughter through her use of the Gaelic tongue.  Wait til you get to the paragraph where Harry asks Nichol if their new farmhand is gay, in Gaelic of course.  Sheer perfection in every way.

Her characters are just as genuine and elemental as the land they are so much a part of.  Nichol is such a complicated soul, gay but not out to his Granda, kind and stubborn, wanting so much more than his brother and recognizing the irony of being back on the farm he thought he had escaped for good.  His anguish in the night over not being good enough to save the farm, not being good enough yet again for his Granda who he loved spoke so eloquently to his loss, and strength of character that it brought me to tears.  And if Nichol is a wondrous creation, than Harry Seacliff is even more remarkable.  As primal as the rocks of the cairn, and as deep as the lochs, Harry seems both as ancient as the land he loves and yet touched here and there with life in the present as with his use of the quads. Harry has a true Gaelic soul that sings beneath an exterior hardened by life on the island and life’s losses.  I can still see Harry and his sheep dogs leaning against the dry stacked stonewall, contemplating the land of his ancestors.  I felt like I knew him while I did not dare approach him. And Cameron, the city boy interloper, who unexpectedly finds home and a family, is so heartbreaking at points in this story that you just want to hold him as close as Nichol does.  Character after character, living, breathing people come to the fore, giving this story unbelievable depth and grace.

I have read and loved other books by Harper Fox and I was still unprepared for Scrap Metal.  Her gifts and skill as an author amazes me with it’s ability to transport the reader into another world, enchant them with the people and their stories, and leave us a little heartbroken by our exit.  I love Scrap Metal.  The story and people will stay with them for a long time to come.

Chan eil aon chànan gu leòr. Tapadh leibh, Harper Fox.  Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein loma-làn easgannan.  The translation? Clearly one language is never enough. Thank you, Harper Fox.  My hovercraft is full of eels.  OK, I just couldn’t resist the last one.  I could see the islanders having their bit of fun with a tourist and had to throw that in.  No quibbles here, just a bounty of love for the story and author.  Please pick this book up, you won’t be sorry.

Cover: Art by Angela Waters.  I liked this cover, with the dark background on top and landscape on the bottom.  Did I wish for a little more of the craggy landscape? Yes, but it still has a great feel to it.

Available through Samhain Publishing, Ltd., Amazon, and ARe.

Find out more about the author and her books at www.harperfox.net.

My other  recommendations include Driftwood and The Salisbury Key.