Tag Archives: Established Couple

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

Release Blitz: Regaining Trust by Nell Iris

Regaining Trust | Nell Iris

RELEASE BLITZ BANNER

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Release Date: September 30, 2020

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 31,306 words

Buy Links

JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Kobo | Apple books | B&N | Google Play

Add to Goodreads

regainingtrust

Blurb

Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

When workaholic Lawrence Weller walks in on the aftermath of his fiancé Frankie cheating on him, his world shatters. Frankie’s the love of his life, the only person he’s ever trusted, and the betrayal leaves him devastated.

Franklin Ennis makes a huge mistake he regrets deeply before it’s even over. He pleads for a second chance, willing to do whatever it takes to save their relationship.

A love that deep doesn’t just stop, so Lawrence agrees to try. But mistakes don’t happen in a vacuum. Are they both willing to own up to their part?

Will their love be enough to repair what was crushed? Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

Regaining Trust gaybookpromo2

Excerpt

You never told me you were lonely,” I say.

“I did!” His protest is loud and takes some of the defeat from his body. “I’ve told you a thousand times. How I miss you when you’re always working late and wish we could do more stuff together.”

I knit my eyebrows together, trying to think back and remember. He’s right. He always hugs me tightly and tells me how much he’ll miss me when he knows I’ll work late. Or how he wishes we could do something together, even if it’s only watching a show while cuddling on the couch.

”I thought that was your way of showing me how you feel about me. You being sweet and caring. Not once did I think it meant ‘I’m so fucking lonely I’ll suck someone else’s dick.’ Was it even your first time?” The question is a pained scream, hurting my throat, my head, my soul. I don’t like yelling, so I take a deep breath and start counting to ten in my head to calm down, but I’m interrupted before even reaching three.

“Of course, it was the first time,” he roars. “I’m not a cheater.”

His words are a thundercrack in an otherwise dead silent apartment, and I rear back, scramble off the couch, and turn to leave.

“No. Please.” He’s pleading now, voice cracked and bleeding out on the floor. “Please don’t leave me, Lawrence. I’ll do anything. I love you so much, don’t leave me.”

I’m frozen on the spot. Undecided. The hurt, overly-dramatic part of me wants to storm off in a huff, throw some stuff in a bag, and retreat somewhere to lick my wounds, and rage and scream and curse the treachery, while wailing out my broken heart. But the other, more rational part of me won’t let me move, the part that still remembers how much I love him, still remembers his loving kisses, his devotion. His passion.

So I sink back down on the couch. Rub my palms over my face and swallow. “I don’t know what to do here, Frankie. I’m hurt and betrayed, but at the same time I just can’t turn off my feelings for you. But how can I be with you if I can’t trust you?”

“You can trust me. You can.” He’s so sincere, so heartfelt, leaning forward — hands twitching so he shoves them between his knees — begging, willing me to believe him. And I want to. I really do.

“How?”

“I’ve never done anything like this before, never kissed anyone, hardly ever looked at anyone like that. It was a huge mistake and I regret it. So, so much. I know I can’t prove it, but I was going to tell you. That’s what I was worried about when you walked in. How I would tell you. How you’d react. If you’d hate me.”

I must look skeptical because he hurries to continue. “I know. It’s easy to say when there’s no way of proving intent. But I’m not a liar. You know I’m not.”

“Do I?” I push out the question around the lump in my throat.

He slides to his knees on the floor in front of me, sits back on his heels, and tries to catch my gaze. I give in to his silent pleas and meet his eyes.

“You know me, Lawrence. You know you do. You know what kind of person I am. I’m only human and make mistakes like everyone. This one was huge and more stupid than most, I know that. I’m not perfect, but I’m not a liar. I’m not disloyal. And I own my mistakes.” His face is open. He blinks away tears, but his gaze never falters. His hands rest on his knees, palms open and turned up, and everything about him invites me to see the honesty in his heart.

And maybe I can see it. The slight tremble of his hand and the pulse fluttering visibly in his neck betrays his anxiousness, but he doesn’t move. Doesn’t squirm or fidget, doesn’t look away from me. Nothing indicates that he’s lying.

There’s no way he’s that skilled a liar. He’s always been open and honest and prone to blurting his emotions as soon as he experiences them. That thought deflates me and I fall back against the couch.

“Yeah, I know. I believe you.” And I do. At least my head knows. I’m not sure about my heart. Or my gut, rather.

His eyes well up and a tremble racks his body, but it’s the sight of his wobbly chin that finally cracks me. I hold out my hand, unable to not touch him anymore. “Come here.”

About the Author

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

Social Media

Blog/Website | Facebook Author Page | Facebook ProfileTwitter: @nellirisauthor | Instagram: @nell_iris | GoodreadsQueeRomance Ink | BookBub

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win  your choice of ebook from my backlist (5 winners)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

INSTAGRAM 1

Release Blitz: Power Inversion by Sara Codair

Power Inversion | Sara Codair

Evanstar Chronicles #2

BANNER2 - Power Inversion

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Length: 84,000

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Buy Links:

Publisher: https://ninestarpress.com/product/power-inversion/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BF1KP2C

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/power-inversion-sara-codair/1137213317?ean=2940164399986

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50517249-power-inversion

COVER - Power Inversion

Blurb

Do you have to be a monster to fight one?

Erin Evanstar is a demon hunter, a protector of humanity from nightmarish predators that feed on people’s fears and flesh. They are settling into their dual life of being a teen and hunting demons.

When a tentacled horror abducts Erin’s partner, José, Erin and their family go on the hunt to get him back. But Erin gets an ultimatum: help the Fallen Angels bring on the apocalypse or watch José die. Erin will do anything to save José, but fighting monsters comes with a grim price–becoming one themselves.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, Death, Death of a Minor Character, Temporary Death of a Main Character, Mention of Past Abuse, Mention of Miscarriage, Pregnancy of Side Character, Self-harm, Suicidal Ideation, Guns, Grief, Kidnapping/abduction, alcohol use, brief depiction of humans enslaved by a supernatural creature

Excerpt

White graduation caps fell from the sky like flakes of vaporized Demon. High school was a beast, and I’d vanquished it like every monster I’d fought, with one exception—myself.

This moment deserved savoring.

Breathing deliberately, I slowed my perception of time until the caps seemed as if they were falling through cold honey on their way to the ground.

The late-spring sun beat down on me, but a breeze kept the temperature bearable. Some tassels lilted southeast—away from the towering clouds bruising the northwest sky. The weather wasn’t going to hold much longer, but I was okay with that. Thunderstorms awoke something wild in me—a pulse-racing, dance-around-like-no-one-can-see-you kind of wild—a rush of adrenaline almost as good as what I’d get from battling a Troll or sparring with Mel.

With my sense of time slowed down, the distant thunder sounded like a lion purring. The clouds glowed purple as lightning forked through them like an X-ray, temporarily revealing a mass of tentacles undulating in the clouds.

Mel, did you see that? I thought as loudly as I could, hoping my telepathic cousin would hear me.

I’d seen a lot of different Demons in the three months I’d been hunting them, but based on the stories and the Lexicon, the massive tentacled ones only materialized in oceans, and they certainly could not fly. Yet, every time lightning flashed, there they were, waving as if violent updrafts were a gentle breeze.

My heart sped up. My hands closed into fists. Mel didn’t reply.

I shut my eyes, opening my mind so I could feel all the energy around me. Most humans were blobs of buzzing heat, but Mel, a hybrid of human, Angel, and Elf, had a hotter, more intense aura with a spritz of simultaneously depressed and optimistically peppy texture. I found her near my Elven grandmother, who felt like a condensed thunderstorm.

Mel? Niben? Can you hear me? Did you see that?

Of course, there was a good chance they were both shielding. What telepath would have their mind open to other people’s thoughts when there were so many other people around?

One who hasn’t been able to properly shield in months. Mel’s melodic yet squeaky voice was a welcome presence in my mind. Shut down the hyper drive. You’re giving me a headache.

I exhaled over the course of ten seconds, willing my sense of time back to normal.

A garbled din of stretched-out voices morphed to something more akin to a clattering avalanche of pots and pans. A shoulder jostled mine. The corner of a graduation cap crashed into my head.

Erin? What had you wanted to tell me?

There were tentacles in the clouds, I thought at Mel, turning in the general direction I sensed her in.

I crashed into José, who, of course, stood right next to me.

“You okay?” he asked. Tears glistened in his midnight eyes and trickled down his sun-kissed cheeks. One snagged on the crooked tip of his nose. He clutched two graduation caps, his and mine, so tight that the scars on his knuckles were visibly stretched.

“Yeah. Are you?” I wondered if I should tell him what I’d seen. He’d been hunting Demons longer than me, but he also thrived on keeping school and the supernatural as two separate entities. And what if they hadn’t been tentacles? What if the storm had just appeared that way with the lightning in slow motion? I didn’t want to ruin his day if there wasn’t an actual threat.

“I’ll miss everyone.” He stuffed the caps under his arms and hugged me. While I wanted to celebrate because I’d made it out alive, he mourned the loss of a place that had been a haven to him for four years.

I leaned my head on his shoulder, listening to his heartbeat, trying to let his steady warmth calm the worry growing in my mind. José’s body was a rock in the sense that it was hard and athletic, but also because it anchored me when I felt as if my mind was running away.

Have you ever watched a storm with time slowed that much? asked Mel.

I shook my head before I remembered there were dozens of people between her and me. No. Do storm clouds in slow motion look like tentacles?

José kissed my hair and whispered, “Are you talking to Mel?”

I nodded.

“Is she okay?”

“She’s having trouble shielding. We should go meet up with her and the others anyway.” I stepped away from him and walked uphill.

Students, who wore white graduation robes, and their parents, who were dressed mostly in summer dresses, slacks, and collared shirts, were clumped all over Saint Patrick’s sprawling lawn.

José draped his arm over my shoulder as I wove around groups of people. The pressure was calming, lulling panic monsters back to sleep with its warm weight. I glanced up at the clouds. They were closer and darker. The wind sped up, stealing programs from a dozen people’s hands. The clouds lit up with lightning, but I didn’t see any tentacles.

Mel’s voice popped back into my head. I don’t sense anything in the clouds, and neither does Niben. I guess she’s been restraining the storm for half the ceremony. Perhaps you were seeing her power mingled with it?

Maybe. Some tension unraveled from my chest. I’d heard stories about my grandmother, Niben, controlling storms, but I’d never seen her do it. In fact, I’d never witnessed her do any magic unless she was modeling something she wanted me to try. She’d come on a few hunts, but she’d just watched with her unblinking feline eyes and later quizzed me on what I did right and wrong. For all I knew, her fabled storm magic could resemble tentacles.

BANNER1 - Power Inversion

About The Author

no glasses rock headshot arms crossed

Sara Codair is an author of short stories and novels, which are packed with action, adventure, magic, and the bizarre. They partially owe their success to their faithful feline writing partner, Goose the Meowditor-In-Chief, who likes to “edit” their work by deleting entire pages.

If Sara isn’t writing, they’re probably teaching, swimming in the lake, reading fantasy, or walking their dog.

Social Media

Author Website: https://saracodair.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/SaraCodair1

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShatteredSmooth

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shatteredsmooth/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15858102.Sara_Codair

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sara-Codair/e/B072L4C869/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 Giveaway

Sara is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this blog tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

MEME2 - Power Inversion

« Older Entries