A MelanieM Review: Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of  5

skyships-over-innsmouthTwenty winters have passed since the Cataclysm brought down society and robbed people of their memories. Humanity, vastly reduced in numbers since the initial chaos, has started anew in Canal City with the aid of library books and steam technology. The Scout and Ranger Corps was established to search for possible survivors and to replenish dwindling resources.

Dev is the captain of the scout airship Smoke Sparrow, and Shay is the scholar of their newest expedition. Their destination is Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a small fishing town that is mentioned in obscure books but shows up on no maps. Might its secrets offer answers? But within the fog-covered, ruined hillside town by the bay lurk unspeakable dangers and horrors beyond imagining. The expedition team soon learns that Innsmouth is one town that should have been left forgotten.

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine is more of a horror steampunk story than a romance.  Taking place in a post apocalyptic world, Laine imagines what’s left of humanity living without memories of their past, in small societies run by steam and cobbled together knowledge from left over books.  The event that wiped out their memories and killed most of the world’s population?  Only mentioned by name, the Cataclysm, it brought the world almost to oblivion.  No one living can remember past “twenty winters”, and most of those alive are young.

Its a fascinating foundation.  Our main characters live in a place known as Canal City (its familiar name we will find out only towards the end of the story).  All the people, Shay, Dev, even the remarkable Malia (one of my favorite characters) is mostly a blank slate.  They have no history, no past, and unfortunately, that lack of foundation to their characters, leaves them shallow and lacking.  I understand that its part of the narrative but it left its mark here on the men too. Malia is a stunshine gun wielding, armor wearing security guard for the Smokey Sparrow. She’s the most vivid, sparkling character in the entire story.  I loved her.  She outgunned, out powered and basically out charactered every darn thing in this  story.  Not good for Dev and Shay. Even the villain.

Laine did spooky rather well.  The atmosphere over the town of Innsmouth practically shouted “run, you fools”.  Typically, no one ever listens.  I loved some of the descriptions of the town, the evil elements I can’t describe here without giving away plot points, and a host of other vile goings on.  I liked those.  But they kept being interrupted by Shay and Dev and a romance I never, ever believed in, not once.    It went from shy, “I Lurve You” glances, to instant hot in love.  I never felt any real connection between the two, all while trying to escape the town, and save themselves and others.

Nope, I wanted more  of Malia.

The explanation, when it came…well, I’m not sure that I understood it all.  But Malia was there kicking butt and somehow it all came together.  The almost to the end was smashing!

As a horror/adventure tale, I liked Skyships over Innsmouth by Susan Laine.  Definitely not as a romance.  Its really up to you.

Cover Art © 2016 Staf Masciandaro. I liked the cover art.  Spot on for the story.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634769902 (ISBN13: 9781634769907)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Review: Mongrel Trilogy Bundle by K.Z. Snow

Standard
Mongrel Trilogy Bundle CoverOne day a shadow is cast on the Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Thus begins the adventures of Will; Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King; vampire Clancy Marrowbone; and Clancy’s former lover, the mortal Simon Bentcross.
book one:  Mongrel
 Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, shines as the only bright spot in the dreary city of Purinton. A shadow is cast there one day when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King, isn’t welcome at the Circus. No resident of Taintwell is; they’re all Branded Mongrels, officially shunned. But Will is beguiled by the stunning, mysterious Perfidor. Their mutual wariness soon gives way to desire, and a bond forms.Soon the naive but plucky pitchman becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest. Fanule suspects Alphonse Hunzinger and Purinton’s civic leaders are responsible for the disappearance or incarceration of countless Branded Mongrels. But why? As Will’s passion and regard for his tormented lover grow, he’s determined to help Fanule get answers and prevent any further persecution… or worse. They just have to stay together-and stay alive long enough-to see their plan through.
I enjoyed this and found the world building really good.  The author created a really unique and creative steampunk world here.  The writing was so descriptive I could easily imagine it in my mind.  I liked the main couple and their friends.  It was a bit of insta-love but it still worked for me.  My only issue was the dialogue was a bit stilted in places.  The writing style when it came to their conversations was just a bit simplistic.
book two:  Merman
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

When vampire Clancy Marrowbone returns to Purin province after nearly two years, he intends only to visit with his dear friend, Fanule Perfidor, and find out how his former lover, the unfortunately mortal Simon Bentcross, is faring. But two developments change Marrowbone’s itinerary: the appearance of a drastically altered man from his past, and the reawakening of his passion for Simon.

Both of these unexpected reunions become increasingly complicated. The connection between Simon’s new creation, a bathysphere-like submersible, and a clandestine underwater-research project results in Marrowbone and Bentcross becoming hunted men. But sometimes, it takes danger to make a star-crossed affair seem worth saving.

I really enjoyed the plot in this story.  Again the world building was excellent.  The main couple here were the side characters in book one but there is still a lot of Fan and Will in this one.  I never really felt the attraction between these two so the romance aspect was just ok for me but the overall plot was good.
book three:  Machine
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The closing-day flea market at the Marvelous Mechanical Circus always draws a colorful crowd, but salesman Will Marchman doesn’t expect to see a large, elaborate gold wagon on the plaza—especially one called the Spiritorium. The wagon’s exotic looking owner claims he can perform “cleansings and siphonings” via a miracle-working machine housed within. He can supposedly flush the wickedness out of people and places.

The Spiritorium appears in the Mongrel village of Taintwell the next day, setting off a potentially tragic chain of events that begins with a shocking revelation. To make matters worse, Fanule Perfidor, de facto mayor and Will’s lover, has been neglecting to take the tonic that stabilizes his moods. Besieged by his illness, Fan drives Will away. Then Fan’s best friend, vampire Clancy Marrowbone, vanishes, causing a rift between him and his mortal lover. Then Will disappears.

As Fan regains control of his mind, he knows what he must do to save his village and the people most important to him. He must solve the mystery of the Spiritorium and confront a man he’d hoped never to see again.

This story was back to Fan and Will and they are going through a difficult time due to some evil forces that come in to their village.  Their relationship is put to the test as is their friend’s Clancy and Simon’s relationship.  Through the course of the story the guys all end up working together to rid their town of the bad guy.
Overall I really enjoyed this trilogy.  I had some minor issues with the relationships being insta-love and the dialogue not being as good as I would have liked in places but the good things outweighed the bad in my opinion.  There is great world building in the series and really interesting plots and characters.  I would read other books in this series if the author ever wrote any more and they would make a great movie or television show.  These are a recommend for those who enjoy the steampunk genre and I also think these would be a good starter place for those who haven’t read steampunk before but would like to try it.
Sales Links: Dreamspinner PressAmazon
 
Book Details:
ebook, 475 pages
Published April 29th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774493 (ISBN13: 9781634774499)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

A Sammy Review: The Mechanical Chrysanthemums by Felicitas Ivey

Standard

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Mechanical Chrysanthemums coverHachisuka Narihiro is the nephew to the shogun and the squad leader of the Tokugawa Chrysanthemum, a group of men who run machines known as musha. He is also one of the few men who speaks not only his countries native language, but also English and Dutch. Perfect to help when it comes to gaining information from the impending Americans.

With the Americans comes as Pennsylvania Dutch man named Maarten Zook. Unlike the other Americans, he is courteous to cultural traditions and has a certain allure that Hiro just can’t seem to turn away. But it’s a volatile time in the country, and with tension between the Americans and Nippon, getting close to an American is dangerous.

He had fallen in love with Maarten, but Kiyoshi was right, it was a love as unreal and pure as the northern snow. They had treated one another as if they were made out of glass. It could have grown to the love men had for one another, aware, very aware of the lust and life that such a relationship would have.

This story mixes aspects of steampunk with alternative history. Being a fan of such things myself, I was excited to give it a try, and unfortunately it missed a few notes for me.

To be perfectly clear, the story is well written and I think the author had the start of some very good world building, but as is the case in many short stories, it was just not the right length to provide the story that the author was giving. Most of the story concerned the details of life in Nippon, as well as political problems that were occurring between two countries. The relationship was truly secondary, and oddly enough, it felt a bit out of place to me in the entire thing. I felt like I was reading about the problems between America and Nippon, not reading a romance between two men. There’s steam at the end, but beyond that, it’s really not what I would consider a romance.

In the end, it just wasn’t right for me, but it may be for someone else.

The cover art by Anne Cain is fitting for the story. There are elements of mechanical parts, a figure that is likely a musha, and of course two men. I do think that it could’ve used some more care when it comes to blending, but as far as fitting the story goes, it works.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press    All Romance      Amazon     Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 90 pages
Published January 14th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781632164933
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

It’s Whistle Stop Time On the Riptide/L.A. Witt Noble Metals Book Tour (contest)

Standard

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

NobleMetals_TourBanner(1)

✍✍✍✍

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Noble Metals! Thank you to Scattered Words and Roque Thoughts for hosting me.

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Noble Metals) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on July 19th, and winners will be announced on July 20th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. 

*****
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her website, blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).

✍✍✍✍✍✍

NOBLE METALS Blurb:
NobleMetals_500x750Ever since Robert Belton gambled away the money to stake his claim in the Klondike gold fields, he’s been stranded in Seattle working as a prostitute. When an attractive customer needs help hauling provisions to the frozen north, Robert eagerly volunteers.
Dr. John Fauth is only searching for one thing, and it isn’t gold. He needs platinum for the prototypes of his revolutionary inventions, and if he doesn’t find it in the Klondike, his university career—and his research—is over.
Getting to the Klondike is a grueling, dangerous journey, and just hours after leaving Seattle, John and Robert find themselves in over their heads. John is carrying an invaluable device that his competitors will do anything to get their hands on. And as the cold nights and mutual desire pull John and Robert closer together, they discover that they have much more to lose than gold or platinum.

(Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published by a different press; it has since been edited extensively and expanded by over 10,000 words.)

Noble Metals is available July 7th from Riptide Publishing. Precious Metals, a novel set in the same steampunk/Klondike Gold Rush world, comes out this fall.

 

NobleMetals_150x300(2)Visit here for all the Noble Metals Tour dates and websites.

Buy here at Riptide Publishing

Book Details:

Author: L.A. Witt
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-143-4
eBook release: Jul 14, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-144-1
Print release: Jul 14, 2014
Word count: 52,500
Page count: 204
Type: Standalone
Cover by: April Lee

This title is part of the Metals universe.
– See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/noble-metals#sthash.ISolyTFN.dpuf

 

Review: Noble Metals by L.A. Witt

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

NobleMetals_500x750When  Robert Belton and his brothers left home  to make their fortune in the Klondike gold fields, they never imagined where their gold fever and poor judgement would take them.  Amid betrayals and gambling debts, only Robert is left to survive in Seattle and he does so by becoming a prostitute.  Robert hopes to save enough money to make it over the Chilkoot Trail into the Yukon and join the hunt for gold.

Dr. John Fauth is on sabbatical from his teaching post at the university in Chicago.  Dr. Fauth carries a precious machine with him to Seattle, one he developed and built himself.  With it, John hopes to find the platinum deposits he needs to further his experiments.  But first he needs to hire someone to help him make the journey into the Yukon, for where there is gold, there is also platinum.

When the only room available in Seattle happens to come with an attractive young man attached to it, John hires Robert for the evening and finds more than he expected.  In the morning, he offers Robert a job.  One man cannot haul the equipment needed for mining by himself, so when John offers Robert a job to join him on the trail going north, Robert eagerly accepts.

Even in ordinary conditions, the gold trail into the Yukon and Canada is fraught with dangers.  But John’s machine and the purpose for which it was built is drawing predators of its own.   The long nights, tough journey, and common enemies bring John and Robert together in passion and friendship.  As the danger mounts, both must decide what is more important to them…noble metals or love.

L.A. Witt takes a gripping period in history and gives it a steampunk twist in Noble Metals.  Just the mention of gold rush brings all manner of images and references to mind.  A huge human migration built on greed, adventure, and the hope of a quick fortune to be made saw towns and small cities spring up around the locations near to the mines or close to the heads of the trails into the gold fields.  Those towns quickly filled with  the unfortunate, the desperate, the opportunists, dreamers, the predators that fed on them, and everything in between.  L.A. Witt brings that Seattle to life here in Noble Metals.

Seattle is the center of the mining explosion.  A port bringing in supplies, hardened men and the unwary, people are arriving by boat, horse and carriage and airship if you have the money to afford it.  Yes, airship as in blimp.  For in this universe, its the blimp or zeppelin or airship that is the highest mode of transportation.  Electricity is still largely undiscovered with Edison, Tesla, and Fruth in the race to develop semi conductor technology.  Until that happens, everything mechanical runs on steam.

I love the ingenious twists and inventions that L.A. Witt brought into her Steampunk Gold Rush.  The Golden Staircase, the fifteen hundred steps carved into the ice from Chilkoot’s base to its peak, a treacherous ice stairway that all and their provisions had to climb if they wanted to reach Dawson City and the Yukon.  Vivid descriptions of the biting cold, sliding mechs, and a slow climb upwards in pain, fortitude, and numbness makes this trail feel like the hell it would have been to all those that attempted it.  Right down to the cannibalized structures of abandoned, broken down machinery that littered the landscape around the Golden Staircase, Witt’s scenes immediately bring to mind the litter and dead bodies left on Mt. Everest, making the connection to each climb clear.

Ah, the mechs.  Steam powered, eight legged, mechanical beasts of burden.  What a great contraption for L.A. Witt to invent for her story!  A new fangled piece of equipment used to convey supplies needed by the miners to dig for gold, they are a quixotic wonder.  Here is L.A. Witt’s description of the beasts:

“…mech, a spidery brass machine that would carry the ton or more of gear over the rugged terrain…I watched an empty mech limp past us. The valves on the front-mounted engine coughed little puffs of steam out the top, and the whole thing rattled as one leg landed badly with every step. I couldn’t tell if the leg was bent or if one of its joints was damaged, but something was definitely wrong.”

Amazingly, lives depended on such a strange walking machine.  And the fight to get it to function and walk properly is as nearly entertaining and fraught with peril as is the rest of Robert and John’s journey.  I really loved those mechs and could picture them quite clearly in my mind as I read.

Then there is the romance between Robert and John.  It found them endearing and their relationship moving.  While unequal in social status, John recognizes a kindred mind in Robert’s.  John values Robert’s intelligence and honesty as much as Robert’s good looks.  They bond over books, and the cold solitude of their tent along the trail on the slow journey to Dawson City.  Nary a case of instant love in sight, I loved how slowly their feelings for each other grew. Not only do they question their feelings for each other but what future, if any, was possible for them.  Great job by the author on making this element feel as real as the situation they find themselves in.

The story is told from Robert’s point of view but John’s side of the story is inserted here as well via journal entries in the diary John is keeping.  I loved seeing Robert and the trail from John’s perspective.  It also widened our view of the universe the author created by getting glimpses of John’s life in Chicago and the world in general.

My only wish was that the journey had gone further and the story continued on longer.  I’ll say no more.  But the world that L.A. Witt build with its tent city at the border, filled with miners, mechs and run efficiently by the North West Mounties (instead of the Royal Canadian Mounties today), along with the rough and tough city of Seattle made me want more of the stories of the people passing through and what if any fortunes they found along the way.

I love Nobel Metals and highly recommend it to all lovers of steampunk, m/m romance and adventure.

Cover art by April Lee.  Love this cover, perfection in every way and one of the best of the year.

Buy Links for Noble Metals:               Riptide Publishing                     ARe (All Romance)                Amazon      Noble Metals

 

Bool Details:

ebook, 1st Edtion
Published January 2nd 2012 by Carnal Passions
ISBN139781926996752
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.loriawitt.com/Books_by_L.html#nobleanchor

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published by a different press; it has since been edited extensively and expanded by over 10,000 words.)

Review of Private Dicks: Undercovers Anthology

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars

Who doesn’t love a private eye? Private Dicks: Undercovers includes a range of cases from all manner of private investigarors in quite the variety of worlds.  From rock stars to werewolves, from Steampunk to the Old West, the species involved may change, but the game is always the same. The private dicks grab a case, solve the mystery, bring the miscreants to justice and end up saving the victim, who just might be the love of their life.

So here are the stories, including some that entertained and enthralled:

Temper by Siobhan Crosslin—Reese is a lone wolf, always on the outside looking in at what he never has had but always wanted, a pack to belong to.  But as an investigator being on the outside has always worked to his advantage as has his ability to deceive.  Reese’s latest case brings him a world of trouble right from the start.  He is sent to investigate a pack that might be at the center of a series of wolf killings and kidnappings.   This investigation means Reese has to infiltrate the pack itself by becoming a pack enforcer, a role that will bring him close to the pack alpha. But his investigation is in peril from the moment he meets Donovan, the alpha and the rest of the Deepine Pack.  They are everything he has always wanted, and Donovan is the wolf who grabs his affections right from the start.

I loved this story.  Reese is an endearing shifter, a wolf in need of a mate and a pack and no expectations of that ever happening.  It is clear that his  past and perhaps current status has involved abuse but he wants to do the right thing no matter how hard that might be to accomplish.  Crosslin did a wonderful job with her characters and world building.  I found that Reese, Donovan and the rest of the Deepine Pack engaged my feelings almost immediately.  The story left me with more questions than answers about how the society in her universe was structured.  There are dragons, shifters and other supernatural beings, each with their own rules and regulations.  And while it might be too much to ask for more information about the world they all lived in given the length of this story, she made it so fascinating that it begs for an expanded version or a sequel. One of my favorites in the anthology.

The PI and the Rockstar by K-lee Klein— Mason Cason is a detective and a good one.  While not flashy in the least, he has made a good living by being an excellent investigator.  Mason’s latest case is a doozy.  A man and his daughter arrive in his office and want him to find the guy who impregnated his underage gum snapping overally made up daughter, a man who just happens to be rockstar named Jade Jonathan Lee, Mason’s private and business worlds collide.  Both his love life and his reputation are at stake if he doesn’t take the case and solve the mystery.

Mason Cason considers himself to be just an average looking man, a plus when it comes to tailing people for his investigations.  It is a nice touch from Klein to give us an main character who isn’t drop dead gorgeous, although his boyfriend certainly finds him attractive.  Mason is so well rounded a character that his looks become secondary to his intelligence and humor.  There is a wonderful surprise in this story right at the beginning and it sets the tone for the rest of this very enjoyable story. Plus I will always be a sucker for Asian rockers.

Glamour by Holly Rinna-White—When his little brother is kidnapped, Jason hires Eric, PI and long-time crush, to find him, terrified of what will happen if people learn his brother is unregistered psychic. But Jason’s own psychic abilities make him a target too for the same people who have kidnapped his brother.  And Eric’s own secrets threaten the investigation and time is running out for all involved.

I found this story to be one of the least successful of the anthology.  The author has set her characters in a world that needs more clarification as to  its inhabitants, their psychic abilities and the governments laws concerning its regulation of its peoples.  There are aliens, who may not be aliens at all, half humans, and their acceptance within human society that got confusing. It  appears that there is a government psychic registry which was never really explained and that added to the confusion about Jason’s brother.  I never felt connected to either the characters or the turmoil in their lives so I never got into the story.

The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey-The Virginia  Gentleman is a well known bank robber with a number of kills under his belt.  When he plans a robbery, he finds he needs 3 more people for his plan to succeed and he finds them in Wilton, Mr McCoy, and his young ward/man who appears to be in total fear of the man he is traveling with.   But nothing and no one is who they seem to be as one is an investigator on a case he is close to solving.  But first there is a gang to be cobbled together and a train to rob.

This story takes place in Wyoming in the 1800’s and contains some very neat twists, especially at the end.  There is also the subject of child abuse that is dealt with in a subtle and sensitive manner.  Historical fiction is a tough subject to tackle and Alison Bailey does a lovely job with her descriptions and details.

The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr-Esmour used to be a very good thief but now holds the title of Inquisitor to the King and lives in a palace.  He got there by means of a lover’s betrayal and penance bracelets he must wear that reveal the truth of the gilded cage he lives in.  When the youngest Prince informs him that they must set off to investigate a slavery operation that is kidnapping women and children within the kingdom, Esmour finds he has to work with the person who betrayed him, the former lover who used his love to put shackles on Esmour’s wrists, that would be the Prince himself.

The Royal Inquisitor is one of my top stories of the anthology.  Megan Derr once more effortlessly creates a fantasy world that never feels less than complete and peoples it with characters we immediately love and understand.  Esmour is typical Derr fantasy character.  He is layered, his past complicated, and his love life comes with it’s own facets of angst and abiding love.  Esmour is paired with Prince Teigh, aka Master Amabel the spice monger who Esmour fell in love with.  Teigh is more than a match for his former thief and has the secrets to prove it.  The story is less about the investigation than about bringing the former lovers back together, something Derr accomplishes to the reader’s total satisfaction.  Just a lovely story.

Regarding the Detective’s Companion by E.E. Ottoman-James is a private investigator with a disability.  A carriage ran him over as a boy and now he must use either his crutches or a special wheelchair to get about. Being a private investigator has brought him a mixed bag of cases including cases of dubious content.  So he is not surprised when he is hired to investigate a murder at the College for Natural and Computative Sciences. The prime suspect is Professor Hollingsworth, a respected scientist whose radical ideas have made him many enemies, including James’ client.  That client wants the Professor implicated in the murder whether he is guilty or not and James reluctantly takes the case because he needs the money.  He is hired by the Professor under the guise of being his research assistant but James is not prepared for what he finds, including the mutual attraction that springs up between them.

Ottoman gives us a richly detailed Steampunk world into which the author places this most complex of private detectives. James has a complicated back history that includes being raised by a priest after his mother gives him up because of his injuries.  James also has a somewhat fluid morality, he does what is necessary to live and if that means lying and tampering with the results of his findings on cases, well, then he will do that too.  He is highly intelligent and comes equipped with a marvel of a steam driven wheelchair.  I liked him immensely for his faults as well as his tenacity.  Professor Hollingsworth unfortunately doesn’t have as many layers as James but still is a wonderful match for him.  The problem here is that the length of the story gives the men, their building relationship and the solution to the murder enough space to accomplish all this story cries out for.  There are so many great elements here but in the end it all feels too rushed  and incomplete to be a satisfying tale.

The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter-Quenton works for his father’s agency and when three dead bodies are left on their doorstep, he decides to investigate the case for himself. But Quinn’s father wants Quinn to stay inside and tells him that there are more things involved here than he can explain to his son. It involves demons, and a curses manor and all things evil.  But the last body was a friend of his and Quinn figures with the help of his father’s assistant, Oz, he can track down the murderer and solve the mystery before more bodies pile up.

This is the only story of the anthology that is m/m/m. It revolves around Quinn, Oz and the mysterious Sebastian who live in a supernatural world of demons, witches, and the Church. Carter gives the reader several mysteries, including the fact that there is more to Quinn himself than even he knows.  The problem is that we don’t get enough of anything here to understand the characters, their relationships and the world they live in.  Especially rushed is the romantic relationship that builds between all three men.  One moment Quinn meets Sebastian and the next they are kissing on the way home.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  This is probably my least favorite story here.

Too Dangerous by Sasha L. Miller—Shi is still bitter over the breakup with his boyfriend who stormed off after an argument and never came back.  Shi was a professional and he knew which cases he could handle and which were too dangerous, something his ex Elis never believed.  Then a top member of the galactic governments comes to him with a special mission.  A top secret black ops group was murdered one by one until just one operative remained.  That man was the captive of the drug lord behind the murders.  His mission?  To go undercover, retrieve the missing operative and return home with him.  Not a job Shi wanted to take then he is given the last piece of information.  This missing man is his ex boyfriend.  Now Shi must accomplish what no other investigator has been able to do but the payoff is one he wants above all else.  Elis safe.

Miller takes the final private investigator of the anthology and lodges him precariously in space in the only science fiction story of the group.  I like the characters of Shi, he has a touch of the hard bitten private eye about him even though its now on a galactic level.  Shi and his ex lover are both men with questionable pasts and even more questionable talents, none of which seems to be communication.  Miller gives us a nifty little mission in space along with the gritty details of being a space grunt and the work they do.  The mission resolves itself a little too quickly and it ends in a realistic happy for now which suits our main characters more than a HEA would.   I liked her space age take on the private detective and  only wished the story had been a little longer to flesh out the mission and their back relationship.

One thing I have always enjoyed about anthologies is that I get to read stories by new authors as well as revisit the worlds created by people who work I value highly.  This has a bit of both here and while not all the stories are of the highest calibre, there is enough here in all types of settings to recommend you pick it up and enjoy the world of the private eye!

-lee K