A MelanieM Review: Scrap (The Bristol Collection #3) by Josephine Myles

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In a battle of the alpha males, who will end up on top?

On the surface, Derek “Call me Dare” Nelson’s life is simple. He’s happy doing up campervans while living in a slightly illegal caravan in his riverfront yard. But life gets more complicated when a smooth-talking, handsome property developer offers to buy the land out from under his feet—the very same man Dare had to escort from a party nine months ago for causing a drunken scene.

Grant Matravers is living a double life, attempting to adjust to weekends as a single, soon-to-be-divorced gay man while staying in the closet during the week. The strain of keeping up appearances at work while missing his kids is bad enough, but add in an attraction to the shaven-headed, tattooed, totally unsuitable Dare and Grant finds his emotional barriers wearing dangerously thin.

Dare blasts through those barriers in a way Grant isn’t prepared for, challenging everything he thought he knew about himself as a gay man. But as their chemistry heats up and the intimacy between them grows, Grant edges towards a decision that could blow up in his face. Exposing a mess of complications that could destroy any chance for their happily ever after.

Product Warnings: Contains one sharp-suited man desperately in need of redemption, another whose thuggish exterior does a pretty good job of hiding his heart of gold, frotting in camper vans, a sensual head-shaving scene and several (noisy) guest appearances from Mas.

Of the three stories, Junk, Stuff, and Scrap of The Bristol Collection, I have to admit Scrap is teetering on my favorite here, primarily due to the character of Derek “Call me Dare” Nelson.  The reader first meets Dare in Stuff when he visits his favorite antique shop Cabbages and Kinks owned by Perry and run by Mas, the couple from that story.  Dare pops up throughout the novel, most importantly at the end where he meets and throws a drunken Grant out of Perry and Mas’ party.

Scrap, the title of the story, seems to come from the yard filled full of scrap metal that Dare uses to refurbish his vans.  Campers to us Americans.  Old VW’s and such, retrofitted with sparkling new counters and curtains, engines and more, ready to take on a new life and new family.  Its a job and life Dare loves, living on the land his family owned, working with his hands using skills his father taught him.   That Dare looked like a “tattooed, skin-headed thug” on the outside?  Well, never hurts when you’re gay and someone thinks  you’re deserving of a beating. Dare Nelson is that character that once you start peeling back the layers, you just love him more and more.  What’s one man’s scrap is another one’s treasure and while Dare may appear to be a human sort of scrap, he shines more than most.

Grant Matravers, well, he was the character that was going to be so hard to like here. Grant was the reverse Dare in a way.  Shiny on the outside but hollow in the inside where it counts. He was ugly, a downright cheating mess of a man in Stuff.  I really couldn’t understand how Myles was going to make him someone we would not only connect with but root for but redeem him she did.  Grant has so many things to work through, apologies to make, decisions to come to, hard choices to make.  While Dare knows who he is and has a solid foundation, Grant is only solid to the eyes but his core?  Needs rebuilding and each moment is pivotal for his character and those he loves.  This also includes his children and his ex-wife.

Josephine Myles always gets me with her well-rounded characters.  They have depth and a humanity that defines them beyond the normal quirkiness and flaws.  You fear for them, you love and take them to heart just as I did here and all the other stories.

The Bristol Collection is a total joy to read.  Each and every couple with their issues and romances to work through before they can get their  HEA is a story that will stay with you.  Scrap has me smiling even now as I remember why I wanted more at the end even as I thought is was great as it was.  Sigh.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book Details:
ebook, 258 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
Original TitleScrap
ISBN 1619224925 (ISBN13: 9781619224926)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Bristol Collection #3

A MelanieM Review: Stuff (The Bristol Collection #2) by Josephine Myles

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When Mr. Glad Rags meets Mr. Riches, the result is flaming fun.

Tobias “Mas” Maslin doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends of clubbing, a rich boyfriend for love and support. Too bad his latest sugar daddy candidate turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.

When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, his worlds starts unraveling…until he stumbles across a vintage clothing shop. Now to convince the reclusive, eccentric owner he’s in dire need of a salesman.

Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. Truth be told, he’d rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. When Mas comes flaming into his life talking nineteen to the dozen, he finds himself offering him a job and a place to live.

He should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together.

Warning: Contains an eccentric, bumbling Englishman, a gobby drama queen, fantastic retro clothing, scary fairies, exes springing out of the woodwork, and a well-aimed glass of bubbly. Written in brilliantly British English.

Stuff, the second in The Bristol Collection series, is a wonderful delightful romance from Josephine Myles.  I think the world of the first story Junk.  There Myles delved into the life of hoarder Jasper Richardson and the man who helped him clear the clutter from his life and house,Lewis Miller.  That was an intense story that covered a lot of emotional territory for Jasper and the reader, especially those unfamiliar with the mental illness of hoarding.  Myles did a spectacular job and delivered a sympathetic portrait of a man desperately in trouble that he needs professional help.  Jasper’s illness and recovery was necessarily the primary focus of that story.  It had to be and it worked.  Here romance, quirky wonderful romance is front and center!

It’s all about the stuff!  And Perry Cavendish-Fiennes has lots of it.  A store called Cabbages and Kinks that Mas (Tobias “Mas” Maslin) accidentally hastens into one awful day.  Mas is a oddly charming character we meet first off in Junk as a hookup turned friend to Jasper.  It’s odd but for all his flamboyance and non stop talking, there is something weirdly fragile about Mas.  Myles has given us someone who’s quirkiness and “living in the now” bravado is a shield we see through to the man we want to hold underneath.  It takes a while for Perry to see that, but come around he does.  Mas is great but Perry?  Totally a match for Mas.

Perry an owner of a vintage store he’s not sure he even wants to run, full of ‘stuff’, Perry is one off kilter surprise after another.  After that random encounter with Mas that becomes more,  we’re side by side with Mas as the layers peel away from Perry, doors are opened from the living quarters above the shop revealing new dimensions into the man who owns all the stuff and the shop itself.  Entranced?  Yes, Mas was and so was I.

This is not an easy  romance as both men have difficult pasts that come back to throw obstacles in the way of their love and happiness. Mas has made some really awful, or challenging choices in his past, including his ex.  Neither will let him go easily.  Perry too has things waiting to destroy his movement forward, including his own inexperience with relationships itself.  The wonder and joy is watching the men work they way to each other time and again, through each missed step, each action or nonaction taken from fear or lack of communication, only to eventually find that their need for each other is greater than anything else.  Myles makes us believe in them and their love for each other.

I also liked getting caught up again with Jasper and Lewis, a lovely touch that I hope continues in the next story. Yes, there’s another book to be had and I’m on my way there to Scrap (The Bristol Collection, #3).  I can hardly wait.  I love, love this series!   Josephine Myles is a wonderful writer.  Her stories are charming, her writing flows smoothly, effortlessly around characters you love spending time with, who settle themselves into your heart for a good long stay.  I absolutely recommend not only this story but the one that precedes it.  Next up Scrap!

Cover art by Lou Harper is just as charming as all the other in the series and just as effective as branding them as a group.

Sales Links  Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 433 pages
Published June 8th 2017 (first published May 27th 2014)

Release Blitz for Stuff (The Bristol Collection #2) Josephine Myles (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 93,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

When Mr. Glad Rags meets Mr. Riches, the result is flaming fun.

Tobias “Mas” Maslin doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends spent clubbing, and a rich boyfriend for love and security. Pity his latest sugar daddy turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.

When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, Mas’s world starts unravelling… until he stumbles across a down-at-heel vintage clothes shop. Now he just needs to convince the delightfully shy owner he’s in need of a new salesman.

Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. He’d much rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. That is until Mas comes flaming into his life, talking nineteen to the dozen and turning his world upside down.

Against his better judgment Perry offers Mas a job and a place to live, but it turns out he should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together. That is, until Mas’s past starts to catch up with him…

Warning: Contains an eccentric bumbling Englishman, a gobby drama queen, fantastic retro clothing, scary fairies, exes springing out of the woodwork, and a well-aimed glass of bubbly. Written in brilliantly British English.

Excerpt

The curtain swished back behind the young man with the angelic face, and Perry let his body sag with relief. What the blazes had been going on there? The chap clearly wanted something more than the trousers, but figuring out what was beyond Perry’s limited people skills. Perhaps he’d been sent by Perry’s father to check up on him.

But no, that was just paranoia talking, wasn’t it? His father wouldn’t stoop to underhand dealings like that. In fact, his father would probably come himself so he could deliver a lecture. If he even cared enough to check up on what Perry was doing with his life.

“There a mirror in here anywhere?” a voice called from the other room, rousing Perry from visions of his father lecturing him about wasting his potential and shirking his responsibilities. The customer. Right. Concentrate on him, who most definitively wasn’t anything more than a casual browser, because there was no way his father would employ someone in such cheap clothing.

“A mirror?”

The man poked his head around the curtain, surprising Perry into taking a step backwards. “A big shiny reflective thing. Most clothes shops have them to let people see how things fit. I mean, I can tell they’re comfy and they look good from this angle, but it’s next to impossible to get a good view of my arse. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

Perry couldn’t stop himself taking a quick peek at the rear in question. He was no expert on men’s posteriors. He was no expert on women’s either, but he had an inkling that the rear in question would probably fit most people’s definition of attractive. The burgundy wool pulled tight over rounded buttocks. Too tight, actually. There were pull lines running across and spoiling the overall look. “They don’t fit quite right. At the back. You’d need more fabric there.”

“Are you saying my bum looks big in this?” The young man batted his long eyelashes at Perry and thrust his rear end even farther out. He’d split a seam if he wasn’t careful.

“It does look a little too large. But not in a bad way,” Perry rushed to add.

“Don’t worry, I’m not offended. I’m just flattered you noticed.”

Perry hesitated before replying. Were they flirting? He’d never flirted with a man before—not knowingly, anyway—but it felt a little like the awkward conversations he’d had with women he was trying to pick up in the past. Back in the days before he’d decided to ditch that whole confusing part of the proceedings and go straight to a professional instead. “I noticed,” he ended up mumbling. “Maybe we could find you something else that fits better.”

“Nah, you’re all right. I shouldn’t really be buying anything right now anyway. Just lost my job, didn’t I?”

“Dreadfully sorry to hear that.”

Now the man was grinning at him with quite the widest, toothiest smile Perry had ever seen. “You’re a posh one, aren’t you? What are you doing hanging out in a dump like this?”

It didn’t feel like an insult, coming from someone with an expression of what felt like genuine interest. And while he knew he should probably take offence, Perry had to face it, the shop was a dump. In the end, he just stuck his hand out. “Peregrine Cavendish-Fiennes at your service. And I own this dump. Well, the business side of it. Not the premises, unfortunately, and at this rate, I’m never likely to. I live upstairs.” Now he was babbling, while the man with the pretty smile and the well-formed rear was holding his hand and stroking his thumb across the back of his hand. Definitely not a platonic handshake, and it sent a strange kind of shiver all the way up Perry’s arm and down his spine, ending up somewhere in his groin.

“Nice to meetcha, Peregrine.” The name came out tentatively, as if he was testing it on the way. “Is that like the falcon?”

“It’s a family name. My paternal great-grandfather’s. But please call me Perry. Everyone does.”

“Perry. I like it. I’m Mas. And that’s short for Tobias Maslin, so I guess that’s kind of a family name too. Not that I ever knew my dad’s surname. Some Greek waiter called Cassius, according to Mum.”

“You’re Greek?” Perhaps that explained the colouring. Mas’s bone structure was too dainty to look classically Greek, but he had a golden bloom to his skin, and the thickest dark eyelashes Perry had ever seen.

“Possibly half-Greek. Or Mum might be lying. Or he might have been lying and was really from Chigwell. There’s no real way of knowing, is there? Not without a time-machine, and I ain’t got one of those stashed away at home anywhere.” Mas seemed perfectly cheerful about his status as a bastard of indeterminate ethnicity, but then again, not everyone had been brought up in a family that could trace their ancestry back to beyond the Norman invasion. Not everyone had a family coat of arms either. Perry wished he could swap places with the hoi polloi. Life must be much simpler without the weight of all that history dragging you down.

“So, Perry, mind if I ask you a favour?” Mas began, and to his horror Perry watched him start to unbutton the trousers. “What?” Mas glanced down at his hands, then back up at Perry. Amusement glinted in his eyes. “Oh, not that kind of a favour. No need to panic. Not that I’d turn you down if you offered or anything, but I wouldn’t ask. Well, that’s bullshit. If we were in a club, I might. You’ve got a lush set of lips on you. Bet they’d feel amazing.”

Perry clapped his hand over his mouth.

Author Bio


English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. Sheís beginning to suspect he enjoys it.


Joís novel Stuff won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Romance, and her novella Merry Gentlemen won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a preteen with special needs and an incessantly curious toddler.


Website and blog: josephinemyles.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/josephine.myles.author
Twitter: @JosephineMyles
Newsletter: eepurl.com/hrQ4s

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A MelanieM Review: Junk (Bristol Collection #1) by Josephine Myles

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Letting go is the first step to healing…or bringing it all crashing down.

When an avalanche of books cuts off access to his living room, university librarian Jasper Richardson can no longer ignore the truth. His ever-growing piles of books, magazines and newspapers can no longer be classified as a “collection”. It’s a hoard, and he needs professional help.

Professional clutter clearer and counselor Lewis Miller thinks he’s seen it all, but even he has to admit he’s shocked. Not so much by the state of Jasper’s house, but by the level of attraction he still feels for the sexy bookworm he remembers from school.

What a shame that Lewis’s ethical code forbids relationships with clients. As Jasper makes slow but steady progress, though, the magnetic pull between them is so strong even Lewis is having trouble convincing himself it’s a temporary emotional attachment arising from the therapeutic process.

Jasper longs to prove to Lewis that this is the real deal. But first he’ll have to lay bare the root of his hoarding problem…and reveal the dark secret hidden behind his walls of books.

Product Warnings
Contains a level-headed counselor with a secret addiction, a bespectacled geek with a sweet tooth, a killer “to-be-read” pile, embarrassing parents, a van called Alice, and deliciously British slang.

In some ways I thought I ought to give Junk (Bristol Collection #1) by Josephine Myles two different ratings.  One for its superb treatment of mental illness of hoarding and another for the romance.  Junk is not a light hearted romance.  At its center is a man who’s been deeply wounded by life and his mother.  Its manifested itself (although it is can be genetic in origin too ) in a hoarding situation that has taken away what little remained of his life and now his home.  Jasper is reduced to a cold house and a few rooms.  From the moment we meet Jasper in his despair, stacking his newspapers and journals in hallways and rooms, we want to cry for him.  Its an awful situation, one he realizes he needs help for if he can only dial the  number he’s programmed into his phone.

The way in which Myles writes Jasper and his illness allows us to see someone with this illness and view them with compassion instead of the disgust or pity you might feel from a newscast.  It brings us inside Jasper’s head and emotions, allowing us to feel his hopelessness, loneliness and pain over his life and inability to let go of his books and papers.  Plus there’s something more lurking in the background waiting to be revealed. How it’s slowly pulled out of Jasper is heartbreaking.  It makes for hard reading because it’s authentic emotions pouring forth from Jasper and those around him, especially Lewis and his sister, Carroll, who are trained to work with hoarders.    We see it from Jasper’s side and from Lewis and Carroll’s when their frustration builds up as Jasper and others refuse or are unable to move forward.  Lewis has more insight as he too is a hoarder of clothing, now his is under control.  I wish the author had given us more of Lewis here but the story is so full as it is, I’m not sure there was room – no pun intended.

I give Junk a 5 star rating when dealing with the element of hoarding and Jasper.  It delves deep into the issues that spark hoarding and the successful recovery for people such as Jasper.  I was cheering for Jasper here with tears in my eyes.   This whole part of the storyline is so gripping and huge that emotionally I’m not sure it leaves that much for the romance here.

I thought the romance and back history to Jasper and Lewis was so touching and sweet but their courtship/relationship is shadowed by the bigger issue of Jasper’s hoarding.  Lewis uses it as an excuse not to get involved (and I found myself agreeing with him up to a point) because getting Jasper better should be the priority here.  After a bit my frustration was with Lewis.  I liked the romance, it was sweet and rewarding.  In a way it could have used its own story.  But because I was so focused on Jasper’s illness and his recovery, I had less emotion left over for his romance.  It’s just the way it worked out.

I enjoyed all the secondary characters, from Carroll the sister, to Mas (a hookup who became Jasper’s friend), truly a wealth of friends here.

All in all, this is a terrific story.  I took Jasper to heart, rooting for him, loving him and when we and Lewis walked through his house, all newly done and clear, I bawled like a baby.  Trust me, this is one book you won’t want to miss out on.  I highly recommend Junk (Bristol Collection #1) by Josephine Myles.

Cover art by Lou Harper is so perfect for this story and characters. Loved it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2nd Edition, 351 pages
Published May 25th 2017 (first published August 27th 2013)
Original TitleJunk
ASINB071Z4KPR8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Bristol Collection #1
CharactersJasper Richardson, Lewis Miller