Mystery

An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities #1) by K.J. Charles

an-unseen-attractionRating: 3.5 stars
Genre: 
Historical; Mystery 
Publication day:
 February 21, 2017
Length: 
247 pages  
Publisher:
Loveswept

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship…

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding… it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

My View: An Unseen Attraction is an interesting historical that goes with K.J. Charles’s style. As always, it’s well-written and detailed; perfect for the period and the mystery ahead. Everything from the weather to the clothing plays a part in the book.

This story can be considered a friends-to-lovers even when we don’t see much of the friendship taking place. The setup reminds me of a game of Clue; trying to determine where the murder was committed, how, by who, when, etc. There are players inside the boarding house and outside forces.

Some parts moved at a quick pace and others dragged. The sex scenes were a bit hard to follow and Rowley’s preferences, mixed with Clem’s responses were some sort of surprise. Almost like having stuntmen taking their place. Plus, they switched from confident to needy in a blink of an eye.

If you are a K.J. Charles’s fan, love historicals or mysteries, this story is for you. It’s easy to read an interesting enough for a single day read.

What I liked the most: The period’s details.

I wanted more/less: Less details about Rowley’s work and more interaction with other characters.

Who should read it:  Fans of historical mysteries.

ARC provided by Loveswept, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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The Mystery of Nevermore by C.S. Poe

mysteryRating: 3.75 stars
Genre: 
Contemporary; Mystery
Publication day:
 August 30, 2016
Length: 
216 pages  
Publisher: 
DSP Publications

It’s Christmas, and all antique dealer Sebastian Snow wants is for his business to make money and to save his floundering relationship with closeted CSU detective, Neil Millett. When Snow’s Antique Emporium is broken into and a heart is found under the floorboards, Sebastian can’t let the mystery rest.

He soon finds himself caught up in murder investigations that echo the macabre stories of Edgar Allan Poe. To make matters worse, Sebastian’s sleuthing is causing his relationship with Neil to crumble, while at the same time he’s falling hard for the lead detective on the case, Calvin Winter. Sebastian and Calvin must work together to unravel the mystery behind the killings, despite the mounting danger and sexual tension, before Sebastian becomes the next victim.

In the end, Sebastian only wants to get out of this mess alive, and live happily ever after with Calvin.

My View: The Mystery of Nevermore is a mystery novel with gay characters, not an MM romance. But the relationship between Sebastian and Calvin do have the starts of a love story. My only complaint would be about the way things ended between Sebastian and Neil. It colored my view of Sebastian, and therefore, his new relationship.

I have read most of the Edgar Allan Poe’s stories mentioned, but it’s not necessary to in order to follow the developments in this book. I enjoyed the way the author mixed all the works to create her own. One thing they differ is tone. Where E.A. Poe is dark and sad, C.S. Poe is light and fun. I think it needed more mystery or more romance, though; to bring the story to the next level.

The mystery has some twist and turns, but I think the antagonist stays on the sidelines too long. I wanted to see him/her take a more active part/mention in the story from the beginning, and not just in the last part.

The author did an excellent job with the setting descriptions, Sebastian’s condition, and creating likable characters. We get to experience all the places, and each character plays an important part in the story.

I’d love to see the next book in the series being told from Calvin’s POV, or at least, both of them; either way, I’d read it. This was my first story by this author, and I’m definitely reading more from her.

What I liked the most: The characterization of Sebastian’s condition.

I wanted more/less: More mystery or more romance.

Who should read it: Fans of mystery novels.

ARC provided by DSP Publications, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Softpaw by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

SoftpawRate: 3.75 stars
Genre: 
Paranormal – Shifters
Publication day: 
July 14, 2016
Length: 
219 pages  
Publisher: 
Self-Published – Extras

Connor’s life could have been the dream of any cultured werecat. He is spending his days in Paris’ gay quarter with comfortably little real work, playing the piano, surrounded by art, fine food and good friends. It could have been, if not for a feral vampire preying on the prostitutes of ‘his’ quarter, killing the boys of the Marais one by one.

When Connor invites a newly arrived hooker to stay on his houseboat, the last thing he expects is Michel to be a member of the Brigade Criminelle – a troubled, hunky rookie cop sent undercover to explore Connor’s connection to the murders, picked mostly because he had been a boy of the Marais himself, not so long ago.

Hiding their true nature becomes a problem for both when their realize there maybe is more to their inital attraction. But in order to bring down the serial killer and maybe have a chance at making their relationship work out, one of them will have to
take the first, critical leap.

My View: I had said, multiple times, that I have a soft spot for stories with rentboys and escorts. I like seeing how they evolved through the story and what caused those changes. In this case, we see a different side of the equation. And combined with an undercover investigation and a werecat, this story has the bones to be great.

This story got me more interested in the mystery aspect than the romance. Yes, it was nice to see how Connor’s and Michel’s feelings developed, but I see them more like a paranormal version of classic superheroes. They want to do good, and both have their secrets. Unknowingly, they’re working to get the same killer down and perhaps, and earlier alliance may have added to the suspense.

The secondary characters in this story are multi-dimensional and fit the story arc. Everyone has a reason to be and help the story move forward. It’s easy to get attached to them, even those we have only met in passing. The settings are interesting and put together in a way we can see the fictitious areas bloom within the real streets of Paris.

My only complaint about this story is the lack of a strong connection between the reasons for the killer to attack and the end result. Yes, we get to know the police’s assumptions and Connor’s, but we don’t get enough from the killer’s perspective. Plus, some of the encounters between Connor and the killer pushed the “reality” boundaries established by the authors.

There’s a small setup for the next book in the series, but not enough to entice a reader to continue reading; unless you read the extra content at the end of the book. Then, you’ll want to know more about the next installment.

What I liked the most: The amount of detail in the descriptions.

I wanted more: Time between Michel and Connor’s cat.

Who should read it: Fans of werecats and humans couples.

ARC provided by the author as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group Don’t Buy My Love Program.

Murder in Pastel by Josh Lanyon

Murder in PastelGenre: Contemporary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publication day: September 11, 2015 (First published April 1, 2000)
Length: 198 pages
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.

“Ten years ago Cosmo Bari vanished, and with him, his legendary masterpiece, Virgin in Pastel. Since that day no one in the seaside art colony of Steeple Hill has heard from the eccentric painter.

Surrounded by an extended family of Cosmo’s colorful compatriots, mystery writer Kyle Bari believes he has come to terms with being abandoned by his famous father, until the day Adam MacKinnon arrives with his new lover, the beautiful but poisonous, Brett.
Brett has an unerring instinct for other people’s weak spots; soon the quiet colony is seething with hostility and suspicion as Brett hints he knows something about the missing artist.”

Rate: 3.75 out of 5

My View: Technically, this is my first Josh Lanyon’s story. I read Mexican Heat back in 2013, but it was co-authored with Laura Baumbach.

At first, I was not sure what to expect. The book blurb seemed interesting even when the cover doesn’t make sense until you read the story, and it’s not the most appealing. The initial setup, leading to the main events, took almost thirty percent of the story, and it’s not until the forty plus percentage that the book gets interesting. Until that moment, I think the book was no more than a three star.

There’s potential behind the characters’ backstories, but since we spent most of the time in Kyle’s head, we don’t get to see much of it. I had to double check Kyle’s age because he felt as immature as Brett’s twenty-one. He didn’t read as a twenty-seven-year-old single man, independently of his illness.

The book felt like a game of Clue, which the author referenced. At least, that was one of my favorite board games when I was growing up. It’s a lot of twists and turns, but the events lacked excitement. Even so, I wanted to read more, to see how the author dealt with everything in the end.

Overall, it was a good mystery– simple and easy to resolve.

What I liked the most: Honestly, the lack of an HEA appealed to me the most. The book has a strong HFN, which works well with the overall story.

I wanted more of: Probably Cosmo. Seeing him through Kyle’s eyes got me more interested in his life before the disappearance– his relationships and what his view’s on Kyle as an adult would have been.

Who should read it: If you’re looking for a romance, this isn’t your book. It’s a good story for those in search of something more than an MM relationship.

 ARC received via Netgalley, courtesy of BookBuzz.net, for an honest review.