Category Archives: Reviews: LGBTQ+

Lily Morton’s spooky jaunt around York is an utterly delightful treat

48703615._SY475_The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings by Lily Morton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two things:

1 – If this hadn’t been written by Lily Morton I would never have read it as I don’t really do ghosts and ghouls any more.

2 – It was set in York, a city that was almost a second home to me in my younger days and which I love, living as I do only 35 miles away.

So, the book. As you can probably tell by my rating and where I’ve shelved it, I absolutely LOVED it. Lily is without doubt one of my absolute favourite authors, and this had all the hallmarks I’d expect from her, but it was also quite a departure in storytelling.

Not that all the Lily Morton elements aren’t there. This book still has two characters who will steal your hearts. It’s still full of British banter and snark and it still has a heart-meltingly good romance anchoring the narrative.

BUT helpful ghosts and malevolent spirits are not the usual fare from Lily.

Painful pasts and dickhead exes and a real sense of place, which is vividly drawn in the location and the interactions between the main characters and their surroundings, are her hallmarks and are executed with flair here.

Lily slowly builds up the tension as poor Levi’s unexpected bequest of a house which overlooks Minster Yard (and OMG can I be jealous of a book character because those properties are stunning!) starts to feel just a little bit dangerous.

I do love a good ghost story, I just don’t usually read them any more, or visit York Dungeon, or walk down spooky streets late at night, because I’m no longer the devil may care young person I once was and I couldn’t run away if something did pop out of a gravestone 🤣

But not only did I read this one, I read it all in one go, not finishing it until gone midnight and I couldn’t put it down. Everything is perfectly placed.

The slow reveal of the mystery (and okay I guessed it at the start but that’s just because I usually do – I think it comes from years of devouring Agatha Christie as a teenager) was so very well done. I loved the different feel of how all the spirits interacted with both Levi and Blue. My heart hurt a lot at times but there’s also great joy in this book.

And, can I say, as secondary characters go, Lily not only has such a knack with creating ones which linger in the conscious and make you want their own stories, but she crafts them so real you can totally visualise a small bookshop, tucked away in site of the Minster, with a crotchety old man being rude to his customers but with a twinkle in his eye.

I LOVED Tom. I also vividly pictured Will and, while I know there’s another book at least for Black and Blue (and can I just say I love this title!), I wouldn’t be averse to seeing Will fall on his arse in love with someone (a rare breeds farmer would be perfect here, just saying Lily…)

If you hadn’t considered this book because it’s not Lily’s usual fare, please, please pick it up and read it, I promise you won’t regret it, because it pays homage to all the best things about this time of year.

And, if you’re ever up in York, take yourself on a Ghost Walk, they’re worth every penny to find out more about the secret side of this ancient and most beautiful cities. Pop in to the Minster while you’re there too, the Undercroft is worth the entry price alone.

As ever, all gushing totally my own work. I will be in York seeing Lily and a lot of other lovely book peeps in a week or so and I cannot wait to spend time in one of my favourite places ❤

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

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Exceptional romance from Eden Finley – this hit all of my favourite elements

Hat Trick (Fake Boyfriend, #5)Hat Trick by Eden Finley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exceptional. This one might have just sneaked ahead of Miller and Talon to be my favourite in what has been a truly outstanding series from Eden Finley.

Jet and Soren were just such a compelling pair. The use of flashbacks worked brilliantly to give the reader insight into the single previous encounter they’d had before each knew who the other was and the chemistry and connection between them was palpable.

From the moment they meet again on Fiji to the absolutely brilliant Epilogue, Jet and Soren were just a joy to read. There are sparks and sarcasm, there is love and there is ultimately a pair who just bring out the best in the other.

Sex is steamy and sensual and also sometimes funny and I love how these two can bring the other out of a funk. The tensions in the book are all created by external forces and I liked that Eden didn’t dwell too long with any sort of will they, won’t they over Jet’s ex-boyfriend and with Soren’s professional ice hockey career.

The rest of the gang are also on hand to bring the laughs and, if this is to be the final full-length book, I think Eden has brought the curtain down in some style.

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

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Intriguing alternative universe style romantic adventure with dinosaurs

Something WildSomething Wild by Anna Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favourites from Anna and just a whole lot of fun.

It’s a Dreamspinner Press release so not particularly steamy, but there’s a great chemistry between Logan and Kit and I loved their relationship growth.

The dinosaur elements of the book really sold it for me, although the sort of suspense/danger part was a bit of a damp squib in the end.

Still, the idea that an archipelago in the middle of the ocean could exist with a load of hidden dinosaurs on was straight into my childhood’s best imagination.

I though Anna did this side of things brilliantly. And I adored Dizzy the dinosaur with her sweet and inquisitive nature.

As ever, I’d always prefer to see more emotional and sexual intimacy on page not off, but that’s the nature of this publisher and fitted with the narrative.

There are questions which don’t really get answered, and the keeping of secrets in a small community like the one here was highly unlikely, but I didn’t care that much to be honest.

I just loved two blokes raising an abandoned dinosaur 😁

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

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Absolutely gorgeous romance which would make a brilliant film

UnscriptedUnscripted by J.R. Gray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pretty sure this was my first book by this author and I absolutely loved it.

It would make a fantastic romantic comedy film and it had just the right balance between angst and humour to stop it becoming stale or too obvious.

It’s actually quite a slow burn, with Hale and Quellcrist (and I’m sorry but his name – possibly an homage to the Altered Carbon character – made me laugh each time I saw it in full) becoming best friends first.

Quell is still reeling from his separation and his wife is still pulling his strings when he meets Hale.

The way Quell began to have feelings for Hale totally worked for me. He was attracted to his character, his honesty, his steadfast support and freely offered friendship.

I don’t think at any point it felt like a ‘gay for you’ more a dawning awareness of someone else’s attractiveness irrespective of gender.

Lots goes on, it’s a well-paced narrative and the behind the scenes stuff with Ella and Mel were some of my favourites.

The pay off felt earned and I liked the way everything was handled in the build-up to crisis point.

Put it this way, I started it in the morning and only put it down because my dad was picking me up!

Great read and a truly lovely ending.

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

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A dream paranormal romance which hit all my favourite elements

Claiming Marcus Cover 5x7Claiming Marcus by Jocelynn Drake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was an absolute dream of a romance from Jocelynn Drake.

Thoroughly jam-packed with all the things I love to read in a paranormal – great world-building, compelling characters, actual repercussions for actions taken, seriously hot and sexy creatures of the night and two men I was rooting for from the start.

That Marcus has three equally interesting and complex brothers who will also be getting the spotlight shone on them was only the start of the bonus treats from this wonderful writer.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Jocelynn’s work both with Rinda Elliott in the Unbreakable Bonds, Ward Security and Pineapple Grove series’, but I also utterly adore her solo books and this one went right onto the favourites shelf.

There’s just the right amount of danger, just the right amount of adrenaline-pumping action and just enough plot left open – without leaving any major cliffhanger for this particular narrative that is – to know that there’s more to come.

It has a hint of Dom/Sub throughout, both with the undercover work which Marcus and Ethan carry out when the younger man plays his collared pet but also after Marcus loses the shame he felt as a gay man growing up two centuries earlier.

All in all, this is an astonishingly good paranormal and I read it in about two hours because I couldn’t put it down (and made myself late for work (I work from home so…)

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

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A quite different fairy tale with a bite to the romance

A Faerie StoryA Faerie Story by Barbara Elsborg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was different and nothing at all like what I was expecting – and in a completely brilliant way.

What I’d been expecting was a Christmas-themed MMM romance with a sweet ending. What I actually got was an amazingly complex, beautifully developed world in which Faeries are real and where three men find happiness after fighting hard for it.

On the way there was magic, there were dastardly deeds, there were acts of heroism, a cute kid and dog, a bit of a creepy Westworld-style village in the Scottish Highlands and secrets galore.

Each of the three main characters was unique, with their own faults and flaws and I liked each of them for different reasons, but Aiden was my favourite. A soul burdened with a hard life but who had never given up hope.

This book isn’t your typical Christmas romance but it’s a wonderful story of love all the same and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

SPOILER NOTE:

There should be trigger warnings imho, as this book contains some serious subjects including an incident of domestic violence (short but on page).

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A whole lot of fun in this Bonfire Night romantic short

The Captain's Flirty FireworksThe Captain’s Flirty Fireworks by Eleanor Harkstead & Catherine Curzon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do love the books these two write together, whether it be the historicals or, like this one, a more contemporary romance.

It’s short but no less sweet and very funny, with lots of puns relating to firemen and their poles, plus an obligatory cat stuck up a tree.

The very English feel of a small country village and the traditions of Bonfire Night are excellently presented.

Just a lot of fun.

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

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