A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Contraband Hearts (Porthkennack #10) by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

His future depends on bringing the smuggler to justice. His heart demands to join him.

Customs officer Peregrine Dean is sent by his patron to investigate rumors of corruption in the Porthkennack customs house. There he is tasked by the local magistrate to bring down the villainous Tomas Quick, a smuggler with fingers in every pie in town. Fired with zeal and ambition, and struck to the core by his first glimpse of Tomas, Perry determines to stop at nothing until he has succeeded.

Tomas Quick is an honest thief—a criminal regarded by the town as their local Robin Hood. He’s also an arrogant man who relishes the challenge posed by someone as determined and intelligent as Perry. Both of them come to enjoy their cat-and-mouse rivalry a little too much.

But the eighteenth century is a perilous time for someone like Perry: a black man in England. Two have already disappeared from the wrecks of ships. Tomas and Perry must forsake their competition and learn to trust each other if they are to rescue them, or Perry may become the third victim.

Back to that historic seaside village of Porthkennack again we go in  Contraband Hearts (Porthkennack #10) by Alex Beecroft, one of my favorite ongoing series by multiple authors.  Only this time, we journey way back into Porthkennack’s history which is rife with smuggling, ship wrecks, profiteering, and in this case, it seems the mystery of the missing slaves who ought to be free men once they reach the shores of those rocky cliffs outside of their owners reach.  How I love this series and small complicated township, no matter where the story falls on its timeline.

Laid atop a maze of tunnels and small rooms dug into the ground that lead directly  to the caves and shoreline (read all the stories written for the series), Porthkennack only looks tidy, and, seemingly normal at first glance.  But the truth of Porthkennack often lies beneath the surface of things and people, as it has been shown from story to story, whether it be from Porthkennack’s convoluted and twisted past to it’s present, who’s ties to it’s past are almost iron clad.  Especially with its ancient families.

I love the historic stories and here Alex Beecroft has crafted one both timely and timeless.  Due to it’s location atop the perilous cliffs, riff with caves perfect for hiding smugglers and “misplaced” goods, Porthkennack’s citizens are a tightly knit village who survives based on cooperation, their wits, and floundering ships lost upon their shorelines.  Oh and wonderful harvests of fish too.  Beecroft builds this gritty, down to earth community with authenticity, heart, and verve.  At the top of Porthkennack is the Quick family who rules over all, leaving little for the township and most for themselves.  Tomas Quick, who’s relation to the family is uncertain is beloved by the town and not so by the local magistrate and Quick family.  Which is why Customs officer Peregrine Dean is sent to the seaside town.

Ah yes, the outsider sent to investigate corruption and smuggling.  In the 18th century.  Made all the more fascinating because Peregrine Dean is a black man who has never been a slave.  An Englishman with a mentor, he hopes for grand things for himself with the service.  So it’s with a certain zeal that he’s going to approach this  job.

Again, the characterization of Peregrine is perfect.  As is the shocks that await him. For in some respects,  Perry has been insulated away from the realities of what it actually feels like to be black and have your freedom taken away from you, to be considered a “product” to be traded and sold.   Beecroft works that element and the essence of the slave trade in here fluidly and subtly.  Plus you can see why that aspect of Peregrine’s personality fights so hard against what is before him.  Reality is a hard truth here for him to accept.  He has never seen himself as anything other than an Englishman and has thought that to be true mostly of others.  He is about to find out that the world outside of London is not as expected.

Tomas Quick is another wonderful character complete with mother and support of his community (equally made up of believable villagers and seafaring scoundrels as the reader will discover. Tomas has his own agenda here, along with established businesses.  His attraction to Peregrine (same sex attraction) and his acceptance of it is based on his mother’s attitude and background.  So the author’s case for their relationship is grounded and seems realistic.

There is also a delightful twist at the end that I throughly enjoyed!

Taking another journey to Porthkennack’s past for a romance, some mystery, considerable suspense and hijinks, and just plain grand storytelling makes me recommend Contraband Hearts (Porthkennack #10) by Alex Beecroft all the more.  I just adore this series and this book (and author) is just one more reason why.

Cover art:  L.C. Chase is exquisite.  This is  Peregrine Dean at his finest.  Love that cover.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

ebook, 270 pages
Published April 30th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626498040 (ISBN13: 9781626498044)
Edition Language English

E.J. Russell on Characters and their release ‘Clickbait’ by E.J. Russell (guest post and giveaway)

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Clickbait by E.J. Russell
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have E.J. Russell here today talking about Gideon, one of the characters in Clickbait and the Geeklandia series.  Welcome, E.J.!

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Gideon: A Peek Before Clickbait

Clickbait is actually the second book in my Geeklandia series about a group of friends in Portland—roommates Charlie, Gideon, and Lindsay, their sidecar friend Toshiko—and their search for romance, wherein geeks pair with non-geeks, much to everyone’s astonishment. Gideon, one of the co-heroes of Clickbait, made his grand entrance in the first book, Lost in Geeklandia, where he helps his BFF Charlie overcome her gawkitude and land her man. (Charlie appears in Clickbait as well, as do Toshiko and Lindsay—who’s the sister of Gideon’s co-hero, Alex.)

This is a deleted scene from Lost in Geeklandia, where Gideon (in his Noel Coward-inspired red brocade dressing gown) tries to prep Charlie for her next interaction with her childhood friend and later nemesis, Daniel (whom Gideon refers to as He-man). She has thirty days to turn Daniel into her boyfriend or lose the chance at her dream job—and the clock is ticking.

Gideon tapped his fork on the empty Tupperware bowl. “Attention, please. Back to He-man. Tell me you at least managed a good-night kiss.”

Charlie’s cheeks heated as if she’d dry-roasted them along with the peanuts in the snack smorgasbord. “Of course I didn’t. We’re talking about Daniel Shawn. It would be easier for me to manage a good-night kiss from Chris Pine.”

“Charles, Charles, Charles. Whatever am I going to do with you? Stop thinking of him as a threat and think of him as an opportunity.” He popped off the barstool. “Let’s SWOT this.”

Lindsay stopped mashing avocado and wiped her forehead with the back of one wrist, her expression troubled. “I know you’re trying to help, Gideon, but do you really think it’s okay for Charlie to hit Daniel?”

He patted her cheek. “S-W-O-T, darling, not S-W-A-T. Strength, weakness, opportunity, threat. Standard management exercise, as Charles would know if she’d taken any business classes amid all the technobabble.”

“It’s hard to take you seriously as a management consultant when you’re dressed like Raul Julia as Gomez Addams,” Charlie grumbled.

“Gomez wore a smoking jacket, not a dressing gown. Stop focusing on inconsequentials.”

Gideon plucked the magnetized dry erase marker off the refrigerator and slashed a grid on the whiteboard they used for their grocery list. In giant letters, he scrawled an S and a W across the top row. “This represents your internal organization. Whatever you perceive as your own.” He added an O and a T down the left side. “This represents the Other. The outer world. Things you don’t control.”

“I’m not sure I control anything.”

“Stop it. See.” He pointed to each letter with the marker. “Strength. Weakness. Opportunity. Threat. Your weakness is this unaccountable need you have to hide your talents under a virtual bushel. Your strengths are legion, but when it comes to Daniel, you forget that you are a smart woman and act like a freaking moron.”

Charlie glared at him. “Don’t you have a hot date to get to?”

Gideon’s gaze flew to the clock above the sink. “God. I’m late. Only concern about your sex life could distract me from my own.” He smacked the marker back on the refrigerator. “Think about it. There’ll be a test later.”

He disappeared down the hall in a billow of red satin.

About Clickbait

After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective—but fabulously shiny—outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project—as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content—not presentation—that matters.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/clickbait

About E.J. Russell

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Website: ejrussell.com
Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author
Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Clickbait, one lucky winner will receive $25 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 10, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside and The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Maryland has actually been feeling like winter for the past week and my body is going into shock.  Last year was Nomageddon (nothing, after Snowmaggedon) but no one really knows what will happen this year.  We really haven’t had any snow or ice and believe me, I am not complaining about that.  It’s been cold but not for very long.  In fact we are due to go back up into the 50’s in a day or so.

I look at my bird feeders and find that they are staying fairly full for longer periods of time, Ditto the suet feeders,  Even our squirrels are looking complacent as opposed to frantic for food.  But it is early yet.  February is normally our fiercest winter month here and that is still a month away.  I will let you know how it goes.

Until then, today the Redskins play the Seattle Seahawks and the area is on pins and needles.  I must go climb into my Redskin regalia and prepare to lose my voice.  So here is the week in reviews:

Monday, 1/7:                   Daddy’s Money by Alan Chin

Tuesday, 1/8:                   Bayou Loup by Lynn Lorenz

Wed., 1/9:                         Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7) by Lavinia Lewis

Thursday, 1/10:               All I Want Is You by Marguerite Labbe

Friday, 1/11:                     A Boy And His Dragon by R. Cooper

Saturday, 1/12:                 Aria (Blue Notes #3) by Shira Anthony

I will leave you with this image of the man who has made the Redskin fans smile once more and dance in the streets, RGIII!

RGIII