All posts by Dianne

Foxglove Copse (A Porthkennack Novel)

Author: Alex Beecroft

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Standalone Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.

Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.

Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other. Continue reading Foxglove Copse (A Porthkennack Novel)

Sons of Devils, Angels of Istanbul (Arising #1,2)

Author: Alex Beecroft

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Duology

Received from Publisher

Blurb:  Sons of Devils

British scholar Frank Carew is in Wallachia to study the magic generator on nobleman Radu Vacarescu’s land. There, his party is attacked by bandits and his friends are killed. Pursued by a vampiric figure, he flees to Radu’s castle for help.

Unfortunately, this is precisely where the vampires came from. If allowed, they would feed unchecked and spread their undeath across the whole Earth, but Radu maintains a shaky control over them and keeps them penned in his tiny corner of the country.

As Frank recovers from his assault, Radu finds himself falling for the young man. But loving Frank and not wanting to lose him leaves Radu vulnerable to his demons’ demands. Can he bear to let them feed on the man he loves? Or must he give in to their blackmail and set them free to feast on his entire country?

Angels of Istanbul

Wallachian nobleman Radu is recently arrived in Bucharest with his vampire parents. Welcomed as an eligible bachelor, he’s introduced to the enchantress Ecaterina, whose salon is Bucharest’s centre of magical expertise. 

But when Ecaterina’s brother dies of a mysterious new plague, it’s clear to Radu that his parents have not been idle. Soon Bucharest is in the grip of an undead epidemic—a less than ideal time for Ottoman Sultan Mahmud, Wallachia’s overlord, to call Bucharest’s nobility to assemble their armies in Istanbul for a holy war against Britain.

The Wallachians have long resented their Ottoman overlords, so Radu seizes the chance to eliminate them while also ridding Bucharest of the undead: he leads an army of vampires to Istanbul and sets them to feed on the Turks.

As Radu’s demons gut the city of Istanbul, their plans become horribly clear. This is only the start. With the Ottoman armies under their control, the undead are poised to suck the life out of the whole world. Radu, his lover Frank, and Ecaterina are appalled at what they’ve unleashed. But they may be too late to stop it. Continue reading Sons of Devils, Angels of Istanbul (Arising #1,2)

The Bones of Our Fathers

Author: Elin Gregory

Publisher: Manifold Press

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.

Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?

Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart. Continue reading The Bones of Our Fathers

Lying Eyes

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher: Robert Winter Books

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  This bartender’s art lies in more than mixing drinks …

Randy Vaughan is a six-foot-three mass of mysteries to his customers and his friends. Why does a former Secret Service agent now own Mata Hari, a successful piano bar? Where did a muscle daddy get his passion for collecting fine art? If he’s as much a loner as his friends believe, why does he crave weekly sessions at an exclusive leather club?

Randy’s carefully private life unravels when Jack Fraser, a handsome art historian from England, walks into his bar, anxious to get his hands on a painting Randy owns. The desperation Randy glimpses in whiskey-colored eyes draws him in, as does the desire to submit that he senses beneath Jack’s elegant, driven exterior.

While wrestling with his attraction to Jack, Randy has to deal with a homeless teenager, a break-in at Mata Hari, and Jack’s relentless pursuit of the painting called Sunrise. It becomes clear someone’s lying to Randy. Unless he can figure out who and why, he may miss his chance at the love he’s dreamed about in the hidden places of his heart.

Note: Lying Eyes is a standalone gay romance novel with consensual bondage and a strong happy ending. It contains potential spoilers for Robert Winter’s prior novel, Every Breath You Take. Continue reading Lying Eyes

Retro Review Tour & Giveaway: Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers

 

Covers by Natasha Snow


Provoked (Enlightenment #1) 

 
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK  (FREE till June 17)
 

David Lauriston is struggling to build his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. His humble origins are enough of a hurdle, never mind his recent decision to defend a group of weavers accused of treason, prompting speculation that he may harbour radical sympathies. The last thing he should be doing is agreeing to help the brother of one of the convicted weavers find the government agent who caused his brother’s downfall.



David’s personal life is no more successful. Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men, and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, David tries his hardest to live a celibate existence, castigating himself whenever his resolve slips. 


But then—into David’s repressed and orderly world—bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.


Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. Whilst David refuses to entertain the prospect of entering into a loveless marriage for propriety’s sake, Murdo is determined to wed one day—and has no intention of giving up the company of other men when he does so. But as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway.


Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, distracting him from his promise to find the agent provocateur responsible for the weavers’ fate, and forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.


But is Murdo more than a mere distraction? 


Is it possible he could be the very man David is looking for?
 


Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 

Two years after his last encounter with cynical nobleman Lord Murdo Balfour, David Lauriston accidentally meets him again in the heart of Edinburgh.


King George IV is about to make his first visit to Edinburgh and Murdo has been sent North by his politician father to represent his aristocratic family at the celebrations.


David and Murdo’s last parting was painful—and on Murdo’s part, bitter—but Murdo’s feelings seem to have mellowed in the intervening years. So much so, that he suggests to David that they enjoy each other’s company during Murdo’s stay in the capital.
Despite his initial reservations, David cannot put Murdo’s proposal from his mind, and soon find himself at Murdo’s door—and in his arms.


But other figures from David’s past are converging on the city, and as the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit unfolds around them, David is drawn into a chain of events that will threaten everything: his career, his wellbeing, and the fragile bond that, despite David’s best intentions, is growing between him and Murdo.

 


Enlightened (Enlightenment #3) 



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

David Lauriston has been recuperating at Lord Murdo Balfour’s Laverock estate for the last five months. At Laverock, he has regained his health and confidence and has found—with Murdo—more happiness and contentment than he has never known before.


David is all too aware that some day soon he will have to leave Laverock—and Murdo—and return to his legal practice in Edinburgh, just as Murdo will have to return to his life in London. But when David’s mentor, Patrick Chalmers, asks David to return to Edinburgh to visit him on his deathbed, it seems that day has come sooner than either David or Murdo would have wished.


Chalmers begs David to undertake one last piece of business for him: to secure the future of Chalmers’s daughter Elizabeth. But to carry out his old mentor’s wishes, David must travel to London, with Murdo.


No sooner have the two men arrived in the capital than they encounter Murdo’s ruthlessly manipulative father, who reveals a shocking secret that rocks David to his foundations. What’s more, when David discovers Elizabeth is facing far greater danger than even her father feared, he is determined to help her, no matter the cost to his own safety.


As the stakes rise, it is Murdo who must choose what he is prepared to sacrifice to keep David at his side, and ask whether there is any possibility of lasting happiness for men like them.

June 13 – Bike Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews
June 15 – Keysmash, The Librarian’s Corner
June 17 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, Padme’s Library
June 19 – Jessie G Books
June 21 – It’s About The Book, Sarandipity, Bayou Book Junkie, My Time Out Book Blog, Gay Book Reviews, Ellie Reads All The Books, My Fiction Nook, Urban Smoothie Read, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, From Top To Bottom Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews

Review:  As someone who counts historical fiction as their favorite subgenre, this series is definitely an all-time favorite of mine. Joanna Chambers combines settings and actual events in Scotland and England with provocative, authentic characters, resulting in a stunning portrayal of humanity and love. David and Murdo’s journey revolves around plenty of intrigue, power struggles and introspection. It ventures deep into the heart and soul of each man and the countries they call home. The titles of the books are so clever, the solitary yet powerful words hint of the relationship progression: Provoked, Beguiled, Enlightened. I’ve reread this series a few *cough* times and am ecstatic to discover audio versions are in the works. Last but not least… the new covers by the talented Natasha Snow!? Exquisite, and in my opinion, are perfect depictions of David and Murdo.

Provoked (Enlightenment #1)

Historical MM? Yes please! This is a subgenre in which new books always ping my radar and have me clicking “buy” immediately. Provoked went beyond my wildest dreams with its depth. This book’s richness of plot, protagonists and purview are stunning. In a nutshell, this is gorgeous writing with characters that feel as though they could walk right off the page.

David has risen from humble beginnings where it was made clear to him that desire for other men was sinful. Well, it’s also against the law. His conflict between “doing the right thing” in both his private life and his professional life as a solicitor always weigh on him. David has worked hard to achieve what status he has, and he is thankful for it. It’s oh so plausible then, when he crosses paths with Murdo – who is as powerful in physical presence as he is in social standing – that any attraction David feels for the overwhelming man is tamped down, and even met with self-loathing.

Murdo is to-the-manor-born. He expects people to jump for him, yet he doesn’t come across as haughty or unkind. A bit pushy sure, but he’s accustomed to getting what he wants and also being above common law. When he sets his sights on David, the mutual attraction is evident. The vast difference with which each man deals with said attraction is acutely plausible, given their personalities and backgrounds. Murdo appeared to have a grand life, but things aren’t always what they appear from the outside – in either man’s situation.

The disparity in the men’s social standing, as well as David’s personal struggles and causes, dovetailed perfectly with what was going on in the political climate of the times. I liked both men at once; getting to know them and seeing them learn from each other while dealing with burgeoning political intrigue made for a highly satisfying read. Provoked? Why yes, yes I was. Next book now, please!

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Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)

Such a fantastic historical romance series. After adoring the fabulous Provoked, I’d been very much looking forward to this next installment in the story of David and Murdo, and the author delivered in a deliciously satisfying way. I love how both Murdo and David are very strong in character; the evolution of their interpersonal dynamic is a delight to witness. Murdo has more “life experience” and is higher class than David, but never acts superior, snide or dismissive. He does treat David with the care and respect he deserves, while gently, yet insistently, guiding him to accept his feelings regarding his sexuality, and their relationship. I have so much adoration and respect for this depiction. Such a breath of fresh air these characterizations are. (I read a lot of historicals, and so many feature one haughty main character and one that is presented as painfully naive.) The sex and intimate scenes between David and Murdo are the perfect blend of passion and tenderness – hot, romantic and also very much important in depicting character development. The plot is interwoven with wonderful secondary characters and threads which are very exciting, and is set among authentic historic events and vivid descriptions of Edinburgh. I could not put this book down – I just had to know what was going to happen next. Highly anticipating the final book in the series.

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Enlightened (Enlightenment #3)

This is such a superb historic romance series, featuring two rewardingly strong main characters in David and Murdo. I absolutely ate this latest installment up. As I mentioned in my review of Beguiled, I love the depiction of the interpersonal dynamic between the aristocratic Murdo, and David, who while a solicitor, is still viewed by society as being dirt on Murdo’s boot. Murdo never allows the class disparity to be an issue between them. Unfortunately, this proves more difficult for David to cast aside…

The sheer believability of the actions of David and Murdo, and their romance, is largely what sets this book, this series, apart. Well, that and amazing dialogue, stunning settings, and some great “I’m holding my breath over what’s going to happen next” moments. The author’s writing is breathtakingly sublime. I think I may have highlighted half the book!

Enlightened begins six months after the distressing and daring events at the end of Beguiled. David has been residing at Laverock House, Murdo’s country estate while recuperating from a severely broken leg. It’s fairly evident by his caring behavior that Murdo desires for, and believes David will decide to stay on indefinitely. David, while not invulnerable to the growing closeness between himself and Murdo, still cannot see that as a viable option. Partly due to their different stations in life, and partly due to deep personal hurt from his past.

“The protective barriers he’d spent a lifetime building up felt like they were crumbling away in the face of emotions he was helpless to deny. There would be no protection left to him when this ended. And the end was coming.”

I kept muttering aloud, Oh David, don’t give up please! Murdo adores you, he’d do anything for you. Trust that the two of you can find a way! The conflict of David’s emotional turmoil, coupled with what Murdo was feeling and whether or not they could give voice to their true feelings, was realistically dealt with and did not come across as contrived at all. It took them a while to find their way, considering the time in which they lived, their pride, and their stubbornness. All of these elements combined with complicated extenuating circumstances, and the fact both were not men given to spouting hearts and flowers made for an engrossing read. One of the sparkling aspects of this book is while conflicted and often angry with each other, David and Murdo were still able to communicate, to talk and not flail around or storm off over cross words or failure to be completely truthful. They stuck it out, they worked it through. All brought forth in glorious, on-page dialogue.

Time and again, David would hear the echo of his dear friend and mentor’s words:

“Be happy. Don’t let love go. Don’t deny it.”

Elizabeth’s situation puts a strong and sobering light on women’s complete lack of rights and equality in 19th century England and Scotland, dovetailing with the scandalous and criminal issue of homosexuality. Her story continued to be closely interwoven with David and Murdo’s, and indeed is key in the brilliant resolution to the men finding lasting happiness together. Being such a huge fan of historical fiction, I always look forward to how authors will resolve issues satisfactorily, leaving the main characters free to pursue a life together.

With Enlightened, Joanna Chambers deftly delivers stunningly clever plotting into a very satisfying resolution of all major issues including: Murdo finally detaching himself from his cruel and overbearing father, Murdo’s future as a political player vs. a recluse bachelor, Elizabeth’s fate as a battered wife on the run, and David’s courage in the face of decisions regarding his personal and professional future. It was such a rise to witness the very social mores and customs of Murdo’s social circle become the key to unlocking freedom for David and himself. Brilliant.

Murdo to David: “I thought you were naïve, till you made me see that the life I’d always wanted – the two lives I’d wanted – didn’t amount to anything at all. I wasn’t going to have it all. I was going to have nothing.”

The Enlightenment Series as a whole depicts David’s process of maturing, his coming to realize what he truly desires, and indeed can actually achieve in his life. His enlightenment. Murdo in turn grows to realize what is of utmost importance in his life. He realizes his true enlightenment as well. Enlightened together ♥.

I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

Author Bio



Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

 

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Fangs of Scavo (Stoker & Bash#1)

Author: Selina Kray

Publisher: self

Rating: 3.5 stars

Buy Links:Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Author

 

Blurb: At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.

When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?

And just who is Hieronymus Bash? Continue reading Fangs of Scavo (Stoker & Bash#1)

An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities #2)

Author: K.J. Charles

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Link: Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love. Continue reading An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities #2)

Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations #2)

Author: Diana Copland

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 3 stars

Buy Links: DSP & Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.

Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.

Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever. Continue reading Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations #2)

Every Breath You Take

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links: DSP & Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man. 

But young gay men in Washington, DC, are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever. Continue reading Every Breath You Take

A Gathering Storm (A Porthkennack Novel)

Author: Joanna Chambers

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother. 

In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.

Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.

A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it. Continue reading A Gathering Storm (A Porthkennack Novel)