Category Archives: Reviews: LGBTQ+

Utterly inspired theatrical melodramatic mystery from Selina

Stoker & Bash 3 HIGHRESThe Death Under the Dark Arches by Selina Kray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Starts with a bang and the thrills never stop!

Definitely my favourite in the series. This investigation has all the best bits out of the three so far – from its Phantom of the Opera inspired plot line, to the seedy underbelly of Victorian London, to S&B cementing their relationship.

The Prologue isn’t a Prologue as such, it’s a sneak peek further into the book, which usually drives me nuts when it’s a contemporary romance, as it gives away an element of the relationship.

However, here it’s used as a very clever “flash forward” to a pivotal moment in the narrative which acts more as a trompe l’oeil for the brain than the eyes, as all is not what it seems.

The actual plot is inspired by the best gothic melodrama, taking its cues from the mysterious theatre ghost and a devious enemy who not only hides in the shadows, but taunts at our erstwhile heroes in the hopes of luring Hiero’s alter ego back to the stage.

This one’s also quite violent and a fair bit gruesome, so bear that in mind as you set off reading, it’s a no holds barred exploration of the lengths someone insane would go to for revenge.

I absolutely LOVED it and couldn’t put it down from the moment I started reading until I finished it approaching midnight.

The usual crew are all out in force too and my heart broke a wee bit for one of them, no spoilers being revealed here, but it also rejoiced because Kip and Hiero are stronger than ever and this one’s just as steamy as the previous two!

Their bond is tested though, not only because of the nature of the case, but because of their disparate personalities and a sense of dread hangs over the whole investigation.

It all comes to a hugely dramatic final 25% which, in the best mystery/suspense tradition, has action galore as well as revelation after revelation, twisty plot turns and gasps of shock as the gang becomes embroiled in a fight for their lives under the Adelphi Arches, a cesspit of depravity near the banks of the Thames.

So, hopefully enough excitement for you to pick up this most brilliant series, without me spoiling any of the skilfully woven elements of surprise which Selina is so absolutely perfect at.

This series is right up there for me as among the best detective/melodramatic homages, and I cannot wait for book four because I bet there’s going to be tears before bedtime for me with that one!

And, as ever, the cover by the wonderful Tiferet Designs, is fabulous and, as I noticed, Kip now appears more flame haired than on the last two 😉

If I had a slight nitpick, and it’s totally me being pedantic, I wish the spellings for this London-set book had followed English not American, we have Us in our Colour and we drink Whisky not Whiskey (unless it’s Irish) but that’s a minor point and it never really spoils the book.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

View all my reviews

Chef Eli meets his very organised match in this latest Bliss romance

55669297._SY475_Cake Topper by Harley Grace

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t put my finger on why this series from Harley Grace works so well for me, but it just does.

Each one has been an absolute delight, they’re just low angst, feel good reads with a brilliant setting, loads of great secondary characters and two MCs who are always just right for each other.

Even if things do always seem to happen in a short space of time, they are on a holiday island after all, they never feel like it’s an instalove situation. The two men just seem to have that spark, a connection from the off which allows them to open up to the other naturally without anything feeling forced or rushed.

Here it’s Chef Eli’s turn and his match is Spencer, a not quite as uptight as he might first seem administrator who Mr Blissand has brought to the resort to take some of the pressure off Eli’s shoulders.

While their initial meeting is a bit fraught, it’s also filled with sparks of chemistry and I was laughing my head off at how quickly they were snogging in a cupboard because they really are a perfect match.

Tensions arise solely from the outside auditor who’s been sent along to essentially see if Mr B has lost his mind, and her attitude leaves a lot to be desired. But, suffice it to say, those who work on the island are a family and they all pull together to see that not only is Mr B protected, but that no-one puts doubt on either Eli or Spencer.

I know it’s always hard for a new author to make a mark in what’s a crowded space already, but these books really are just a whole load of fun. They definitely bring me the Bliss that Adrien wants all his guests to find 😁

Now, please can I have Trace’s story next (and Mr B’s after that!)

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

View all my reviews

Lacuna hit all my fantasy high notes perfectly

55703944._SY475_Lacuna by N.R. Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was a cracker!

I absolutely adore fantasy, it’s my first love and I’m always really happy to see more authors in the MM genre writing it.

With Lacuna, Nic does an excellent job of not only creating a fully immersive world, but bedding a romance into the heart of the narrative.

The premise is simple, four kingdoms, four rulers, one rare event requiring them all to gather, then betrayal and threat from outside forces. But it’s the way she then weaves the culture of her creation into the story which worked so well for me.

Crow, King of the Northlands, and Tancho, King of the Westlands, couldn’t be more opposite if they tried. There are influences in their Kingdoms from our own cultures, the Northlands are icy and vaguely Scandinavia, the Westlands are all watery and heavily evocative of Japanese culture.

An unexpected event at the gathering of these four rulers forces Crow and Tancho together and theirs is a sort of “enemies” to lovers romance.

They were never actual enemies but there’s animosity at first, which slowly, because of circumstances, turns into mutual admiration and respect – and a possibly slightly unhealthy dose of jealousy which provides a lot of the humour in the story.

With a wonderful cast of supporting characters, this story races through a complicated, but never confusing, plot involving alchemy, astronomy, a wee bit of magic and a lot of collaboration and bravery.

While the main plot is resolved in this story, there is enough left that I think there could be more to come and I would very much love to read more. Crow and Tancho’s relationship may have originally begun through forces outside their control, but it very much became one of mutual love and trust.

I also loved the other two rulers of the Eastern and Southern Kingdoms, both Elmwood and Samiel (the only Queen) were engaging characters with definite personalities and I’d be very happy to read more about them too.

Definitely one of my favourite books from Nic and I absolutely LOVE the cover.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

View all my reviews

« Older Entries