Tag Archives: Humour

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

View all my reviews

Release Blitz: Best Man by Lily Morton

Best Man | Lily Morton

Close Proximity #1

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Genre: MM Romance

Release Blitz: 03.10.19

Universal link: http://getbook.at/Best-Man

Amazon US: www.amazon.com/dp/B07YKNQKHY

Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YKNQKHY

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Blurb

Zeb Evans doesn’t do messy.

The product of a disorganised and chaotic childhood, Zeb likes order and control, and as the boss of his own employment agency he can give that to himself. Life runs along strict lines and he never mixes business with pleasure. Everything in his life lives in neat, alphabetized boxes. Until Jesse.

Jesse Reed is Zeb’s complete opposite. He’s chaos personified. A whirling cyclone of disorder. He’s also charming and funny and a very unwanted distraction.

Which is why it comes as a complete surprise to Zeb to find himself asking Jesse to pose as his boyfriend for a few days in the country at a wedding.

Zeb doesn’t do impulsive, but as the time away progresses, he finds himself increasingly drawn to the merry and irreverent Jesse. But can he bring himself to break the hard-won lessons he’s learnt in life? And even if he can, how could Jesse be attracted to him anyway? He’s so much older than Jesse, not to mention being his boss.

From the bestselling author of the Mixed Messages and Finding Home series comes a warm and funny romance about one man’s fight for control and another man’s determination to circumvent it.

This is the first book in the Close Proximity series, but it can be read as a standalone.

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Excerpt

He looks at me and sighs wearily. “Do you think you could possibly behave?” he finally says.

I bite my lip. “I don’t think it would be entirely honest of me to promise that,” I say slowly. “Especially if people keep treating you like you’re some sort of desperate stalker. It’s not fair.” I frown. “You’re doing bloody Patrick a favour. They should be thanking you, not treating you like an unexploded bomb from the war that might go off in suburbia and wreck someone’s lavender bush.”

He blinks. “Where the hell did that come from?” He pauses. “And why am I the unexploded relic from the war?”

I smile at him sympathetically. “You have a lot of pent-up aggression,” I inform him.

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About The AuthorFB_IMG_1570052267267

Lily Morton writes contemporary romance novels, and specialises in hot love stories with a good dose of humour.

Lily lives in sunny England with her husband and two children, all of whom claim that they haven’t had a proper conversation with her since she bought her first Kindle.

She has spent her life with her head full of daydreams and decided one day to just sit down and start writing about them. In the process she discovered that she actually loved writing, because how else could she get to spend her time with hot, funny men!

She loves chocolate and Baileys and the best of all creations – chocolate Baileys! Her lifetime’s ambition is to have a bath in peace without being shouted by one of her family.

Facebook Author | Facebook Profile | Website

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Release Blitz: Love & Tea Bags by C. F. White

Love & Tea Bags | C. F. White

Pink Rock #1

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Publisher: Pride Publishing

Cover Design: Erin Dameron-Hill

Length: 79,679 words

Buy Links:

Pride Publishing – To be released wide July 16

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Blurb

Fate can be written in a tea bag too.

Mark Johnson is hitting his forties and is stuck in a rut.

He’s had the same boring office job for ten years, with no motivation or inclination to change it. The same crumbling house for ten years, with no cash or know-how to fix it. And the same Facebook status for five years—it’s complicated. It isn’t. He’s single. He just doesn’t want to correct it. That would be admitting defeat.

The day a tea bag splats onto his face whilst he’s emptying the dregs of his morning cuppa at Macy’s Tea Shoppe is the one that makes him question each of his current life choices…the tea bag and that the shop is currently being run by one rather friendly, rather hunky, but rather young Australian named Bradley Summers.

Tea has never tasted so good.

Excerpt

The slurp was loud and rather obnoxious, especially when the man was sipping from one of Mark’s grandmother’s dainty china teacups that Mark saved for special occasions. Since Mark hadn’t had any need for the guest china in quite some time, he’d let Grammy’s cardinal rule slide for the strapping workman clambering up in his loft.

“Yup, I see the problem,” the workman yelled down the open hatch in Mark’s landing ceiling that led to the over-cluttered store of stuff that Mark hadn’t set foot in for…well, quite some time.

Mark wished he hadn’t offered the man a brew. He really hadn’t had the time to wait for the kettle to boil, for a start. But he’d been brought up well, and one must offer one’s tradesmen a cuppa in the hope they’ll knock a few quid off the call-out charge. He suspected he would have to delve deep into his already ravine-like pockets, so anything that could be considered mates-rates would really help at this point in his life. Mark wished he did have mates. Ones that were handy, anyway.

“Oh, yes?” Mark called back, his voice echoing through the square hole in his ceiling. He closed his eyes, for some reason, as if that would soften the blow of what was going to come out of the man’s mouth next.

“Gonna need coupla new roof tiles, mate. A lotta this stuff is gonna get ruined.”

“Bugger,” Mark muttered into his own mug of piping-hot tea. Well, it was rude not to join the man in a beverage.

“What was that?” The man’s round, if somewhat flushed, face appeared at the hole.

“Nothing, nothing.” Mark shook his head. He didn’t much fancy repeating himself. The man might take it seriously and give him a whack. Or, which would be much worse, not take the job of fixing Mark’s leaking roof. “Thank you.” He smiled.

Mark had been told, on occasion, that he had quite a nice smile. One that relaxed people. Mark, however, believed it to be far more useful to allow people to walk all over him. Or pass by him. Through him…

With a grunt, the workman set his steel-toe-capped boots on two metal rungs of the ladder, revealing the tip of his rounded behind popping out of the elastic waistband that appeared to be failing in its one basic function. Normally, on an average Saturday night, Mark wouldn’t have minded the view, as his internet history would evidence. But today was a Monday and the man didn’t look like he would appreciate Mark’s ogling. Not that Mark was ogling. He just had nowhere else to look. Honest.

On reaching the landing, the workman crashed back into Mark. Stumbling, Mark gripped his cup with both hands to prevent the utter travesty of spillage onto the carpet. Not only did he not have time to clear up any stains—not that any would show on the swirling patterns of the seventies-design stitch work—but he also hated to waste a cup of the good stuff.

The workman hefted up his jogging bottoms, his hands empty of the china teacup he had been avidly slurping from up in the loft. And that meant Mark would now either have to venture up into the space he avoided like the seaside lido on a May bank holiday afternoon, or leave it up there to breed new life. He knew which he would rather.

“Right.” The man scratched his stubbled chin. “See, you’re gonna need a coupla new tiles. Tha’s what the leak is. The rain we been ’avin is comin’ in frou ta ’ole in ya roof. Travelling daan the walls and dripping aaat ya ceiling.”

“Good-oh.” Mark nodded, not letting on for a single second that he had no idea what the man had just said. “Uh, can you fix it?” He mentally crossed his fingers in the hope that he hadn’t just said that he could. Or couldn’t.

“Yeah, no sweat. I can do two tiles at a ton.”

“A what now?”

“A ton.”

“A ton of what? Tiles?”

“No. A hundred smackers.”

Mark blanked, shaking his head.

“Paand?”

“Oh, I see. Well, that’s not too bad then.” Mark smiled. And phewed. Mentally.

“But that won’t fix ya problem.”

“Oh dear.” Mark furrowed his brow, which he didn’t like to do all that often as the lines weren’t smoothing out after so much anymore.

“Dunno which bleedin’ cowboy did ya roof last, but they didn’t felt it.” The man tucked a tiny pencil behind his ear. Where he’d got the pencil from was Mark’s first question. Quickly followed by, do I really want to know?

“That cowboy would be my grandfather.” Mark attempted to add a hint of pride to his voice, but the vacant expression of the workman before him just made him slink into a guilty, wincing admission. “He built the house.”

“Ah. Right. ’Nover ’and-me-down was it?”

“Hand-me-down?” More deep-set wrinkles formed on Mark’s brow. He must remember to use that skincare range for men he’d got as a Secret Santa present at work last year, the one that claimed to defy even the deepest-set wrinkles. He had a hunch who’d been bold enough to buy that for him. Bloody Yvonne.

The man waved, indicating Mark’s attire. “The clothes.”

Mark held out his arms, still clutching his mug of tea, and peered down at himself. Trusty grey corduroy trousers, wonderful and comfy, and rather warm considering the current climate, matched with a white button-down shirt. The vest underneath was simply due to the fact that his dark nipples tended to show through the thin material of cheap cotton. He’d discovered that tidbit of information back at secondary school when the popular boys used to poke his nipples through his school shirt, many twisting for added effect. And people say all-boy grammar schools are a safe haven from bullying.

Mark ran a hand through his thick dark hair, sliding it across his forehead in a floppy fringe, ignoring the jibe at his attire and moving on to the pressing transaction at hand. “So you were saying about the roof?”

“Yeah. Gonna need ta replace it.” The man sniffed, his chest rising with the inhale of breath, then shrugged. “Set ya back ’bout five grand.”

The fact that Mark had chosen the man’s pause to take a sip of tea probably summed up his entire existence. It had been, of course, the wrong decision. He spat the tea out, liquid escaping from his nose, and coughed, gasping to get air, rather than the delightful Twinings English Breakfast, into his lungs.

The workman slapped him on the back. Perhaps he thought that would help the situation. It didn’t. It only exacerbated it, knocking Mark off his feet and forcing him to grapple for the bannister to prevent a rather tragic tumble down the stairs.

“Better out than in, I say.” The workman did say.

Mark blanked. If only the boys at his delightful modern secondary grammar had believed in that statement back when Mark had been in year ten and announcing to the world he was gay. Not that any of his peers had had any doubt before Mark had made his fabulous speech. But Mark presumed they would have preferred him to stay in on that day, considering many had received detention for the words of “encouragement” they had called out in a perfect display of teenage camaraderie.

“Well, I can do the tiles tomorra,” the man carried on, oblivious to Mark’s inner turmoil. “Fink about the rest of da roof, though. You don’t want it cavin’ in on ya.”

Mark nodded, although, right then the thought of paying out five thousand pounds that he didn’t have made him consider the alternative option.

“Righty-oh. Thank you very much for coming out on such short notice.” Mark ushered him down the stairs.

“No probs. Give me card your granddad, then.” The man handed over a bent business card, a mobile phone number scrawled on the back with black pen along with the words The Man With The Van Who Can. Mark pondered if there was anything that he couldn’t? Or wouldn’t?

“That would be rather futile. Grampy died quite some time ago.”

“Oh.” The man squinted, stepping out into the daylight and onto Mark’s porch. “So you chose this?”

“Chose what?” Mark desperately tried not to furrow his brow.

The man waved his hand, indicating, Mark presumed, the entire house’s internal decor.

“I like antiques.” Could seventies decor be considered antique? He supposed it could.

“You get antique wallpaper these days then?”

Bastard. “Oh, indeed.” Mark nodded. “Worth a fortune.”

Mark slammed the door shut and rested his back against the wall, glancing around at the house he’d lived in coming along ten years now. It was falling apart and no redecoration had been done since probably the last time he’d been up in the loft. He sighed, slammed his mug down on the windowsill and decided now was the time for a decent cup of the good stuff.

Grabbing his black Barbour jacket from the coat hooks, he slipped his feet into the black loafers by the door then ventured out into the morning sun. And what a glorious day it was, perfect to be beside the seaside. And Mark was. He lived directly opposite the pebble beach of Marsby in the south-east, a quaint little seaside town that homed more retirees than tourists. Not that Mark was retired. He could only wish for that, although he was leaning nearer to the end of his career than the start. Mid-career, perhaps? Christ, maybe I should think about actually having a career rather than simply a job that barely pays the bills?

Trying to forget that he had left a gaping hole in his roof—and now his ceiling having forgotten to shut the loft hatch—Mark rammed his hands into his jacket pockets and thanked whomever above for the abnormal radiant sun. And that was when the inevitable dark clouds glided overhead and droplets landed with splats on his cheeks. Such was Mark’s luck. So he trotted that bit faster along the pathway beside the beach and into the main High Street, stopping at the welcoming sign of Macy’s Ye Olde Style Tea Shoppe on the corner.

The bell above the door chimed as Mark hurried into his regular haunt. He’d been going there for quite a few years now, since his move back to his home town from the mean streets of London, and still hadn’t figured out why Macy added the extra p and e to the shop. He shook his hair out like a wet dog and nodded at the umbrellas Macy always offered to customers on such regular occurrences as torrential rain, a quick downpour, scattered showers and that really fine light rain that has one believing they aren’t getting wet until they get home and their clothes are sopping.

The shop was empty, which was rather odd. There was usually someone sipping on a decent cup of tea made from the loose leaves in a well-stewed pot. Macy made proper tea, using a strainer, and it tasted every bit of the aromatic leaves that it should. She was also a rather good baker and Mark was horrified that there were no buns, baps or any other derogatory term used for parts of the female anatomy displayed on the counter for Mark to scoff and instantly burn off the calories by breathing. He had a fast metabolism, which was both a dream and a curse.

As Mark slapped a hand down on the counter, he heard shuffling back in the kitchen area. Thank God Macy was there. He needed a chat. And a tea.

“Helloooo? Only me, love. Usual cuppa when you’re ready.”

Drumming his fingers on the counter, Mark swivelled a one-eighty. Vacant seats and no-one in the vicinity looking like they might want venture on in to grab a tea to go, which would be quite difficult as Macy only served tea in porcelain cups. And rightly so.

“So, Macy, love,” Mark called out over his shoulder, thinking it was best to fill her in now or he might not have time to divulge all the details of his eventful morning before he had to head into work. “I’ve decided I’m better off if I just kill myself now.”

He leaned forward over the counter, ensuring his voice would drift to the kitchen. “Turns out my roof might collapse on me anyway. And according to this rather annoyingly beefcaked member of the male species, the sight of whose perfectly rounded behind is now imprinted on me for many a future solo endeavour, and who graced me with a whole other English language making me feel every bit of my—cough—years, it’s going to cost me rather more than my arm and my leg. And I’m sadly going to have to admit it, Macy love, that I’m not sure the fellow would accept an offer of my penis as monetary value. Not that I have a wealth of offers for that part of my anatomy these days anyway. Much like the pound to the euro, I swear it’s shrinking in value.”

He chuckled at his own joke, as he so often did, then spun around to face the seating area. A couple of joggers zoomed past the window, obviously on their beachside run rather than the mad dash for cakes and biscuits that he did.

“You okay, Mace? Need a hand?”

No reply. So Mark leafed through the selection of pre-packed biscuits crammed in the bowl by the till. Macy had one of those old-fashioned registers. No electronic buttons to press. No new-fangled tablet hooked up to the mains. It was basically a calculator with a drawer.

Choosing a packet of chocolate-dipped Viennese shortbread fingers, Mark cocked his head to peer through the open kitchen door. “I mean, Macy, what is the point in filing paperwork for a living just to earn enough money to fix a roof when I have no man to enjoy the comforts of my damp-free living space along with me? And by the time I find a willing participant to snuggle with me on my antique sofa looking at my antique wallpaper in my antique house, I’ll be ready to pop my clogs anyway. So, death by sugar, please, Macy.”

He slapped the counter to finalise his self-depreciative monologue, and nearly threw up the entire contents of his breakfast when a male vacated the back kitchen. Said man was wiping his hands on a rather beautifully stitched gingham tea towel. But that wasn’t the only thing that was a delight for the eye. The man was shirtless—rippling muscles, a glowing sheen of glistening skin and white-wash jeans hanging low on his perfectly sculpted hips. Needless to say, that wasn’t Macy.

“Hello,” Mark said, because, it is the polite way to greet a man, regardless of the lack of shirt and the highly embarrassing fact that Mark had already told his life story, leaving out all, or indeed any, good bits.

“G’day,” the man replied.

About The Author

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly searches for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

Having worked in Higher Education for most of her career, a life-altering experience brought pen back to paper after she’d written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Having embarked on this writing malarkey, C F White cannot stop. So strap in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…

You can follow C F on Facebook and Twitter and check out her Website.


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Release Blitz: Gideon by Lily Morton

Gideon | Lily Morton

Finding Home #3

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Release Date: 12.05.19

MM Romance

Universal Link: http://getbook.at/gideon

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BLURB

Gideon Ramsay is so far in the closet he should be a talking faun.

A talented, mercurial, and often selfish man, Gideon has everything he should want in life. Fame, money, acting awards – he has it all. Everything but honesty. At the advice of his agent, Gideon has concealed his sexuality for years. But it’s starting to get harder to hide, and his increasingly wild behaviour is threatening to destroy his career.

Then he’s laid low by a serious illness and into his life comes Eli Jones. Eli is everything that Gideon can’t understand. He’s sunny-tempered, friendly, and optimistic. Even worse, he’s unaffected by grumpiness and sarcasm, which forms ninety percent of Gideon’s body weight. And now Gideon is trapped with him without any recourse to the drugs and alcohol that have previously eased his way through awkward situations.

However, as Gideon gets to know the other man, he finds himself wildly attracted to his lazy smiles and warm, scruffy charm that seem to fill a hole inside Gideon that’s been empty for a long time. Will he give in to this incomprehensible attraction when it could mean the end of everything that he’s worked for?

From the bestselling author of the Mixed Messages series comes a story about a man who needs to realise that being true to yourself is really just a form of finding home.

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EXCERPT

“Round the block?” he intones in a gloomy voice.

I nod. “Yes, please.”

The car moves off slowly. He examines my face in the mirror. “You okay, sir?”

I look up, surprised. “Of course,” I say abruptly. Then I ask, “Why?”

He shrugs, returning his attention to the road. “You don’t look so good, Mr Ramsay.”

“Oh Russ, you old charmer, you,” I drawl, slugging some more tequila. “What’s with the ‘sir’ and ‘Mr Ramsay’ business anyway?”

He ignores the question. He’s more passive-aggressive than Taylor Swift. “You haven’t eaten properly for a few days now,” he says instead in a concerned voice.

“I have eaten,” I say crossly.

“Tequila and vodka aren’t any of the major food groups.”

I shrug. “I had a Pop-Tart this morning.”

“You had that yesterday and very charmingly regurgitated it into a jasmine bush earlier on.”

“I’m fine,” I say dismissively.

“I surely hope you are,” he says wryly. “Because you’ve got your hands full tonight.”

I shake my head, thinking of the two men I’m about to get into bed with and looking down at my very disinterested cock. “Russ, you’d need a medium and a séance to bring my dick back to life tonight.”

He laughs loudly and then sobers. “Maybe you should call it a night then. Go to bed on your own for a change, sir.”

“Okay, Nanny McPhee. And maybe I’d be better with a box of tissues and a wi-fi connection.” I sigh. “Actually, that sounds a lot quieter.” I stare blearily at the back of his grey head. “I hope you also know that tagging the word sir on the end of a sentence doesn’t make it any less bossy.”

Gideon-LM-Teaser2 copy.jpgAbout the Author

Lily Morton Logo.jpg

Lily writes contemporary romance novels, and specialises in hot love stories with a good dose of humour.

Lily lives in sunny England with her husband and two children, all of whom claim that they haven’t had a proper conversation with her since she bought her first Kindle.

She has spent her life with her head full of daydreams and decided one day to just sit down and start writing about them. In the process she discovered that she actually loved writing, because how else could she get to spend her time with hot, funny men!

She loves chocolate and Baileys and the best of all creations – chocolate Baileys! Her lifetime’s ambition is to have a bath in peace without being shouted by one of her family.

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Facebook Author

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Website

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Release Blitz: The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman Trilogy by Zakarrie Clarke

The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman Trilogy | Zakarrie Clarke

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Release Date: May 6, 2019

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: approx. 100,000 words

It is a standalone story

Buy Links

Available on Kindle Unlimited

AVAILABLE FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME

FROM MON – FRI THIS WEEK

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Blurb

‘The Most High, Noble and Potent Prince, His Grace Padraic, Duke of Waterford.’

After enduring the Ducal Grand Entrance, one might be forgiven for thinking that an evening could only improve. One would be wrong. Padraic was then duty bound to find an amiable miss to romance and dance attendance upon.

In truth, the Duke was rather more partial to establishments that promised charms he would ne’er find in the arms of a Lady. Such dalliances did add a dash of decadence to his life of ducal drudgery, but time was tick-tocking and a blue-stocking bride must be wooed, and wed…

Raff of the Rookeries. The most afeared rake-hell to have haunted the highways since Darkin denied them the pleasure at the gallows…by stepping off the ladder before they could whip it from under his feet. Raff had fought his way up to rule the roost with instincts as razor-sharp as his dirk.

His sword skills, fists, and wily wits had stood him in good stead, but none had proved as invaluable as the weapon he’d ne’er needed to tend. His fury. A rage every bit as lethal as arsenic—deadlier than brawn, brains, or bravado—Raphael had carried it like a toxic plague. Until, he became Raff of the Rookeries.

Unleashed upon the underworld, it was the most formidable foe in London. Two men from two different worlds…a mere few miles apart. That is, until the fateful night when The Duke was halted in his tracks by a very Dandy Highwayman…

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Excerpt

Mayhaps twenty minutes later, the air turned decidedly rank; a stench that came accompanied by random street sounds and the odd drunken shout. They were, beyond any shadow o’doubt, heading for some godforsaken part of town. A logical assumption, further embellished by the aroma of decaying cabbage and other, far less salubrious odors.

If the Devil himself intended to demoralize the poor, he could not find a means more agreeable to his plans, than the London slums.

“Nearly there, Yer Grace,” The scoundrel called over his shoulder as they slowed to a trot.

“Where is ‘there’?” Padraic dared to wonder.

“My humble abode. It’s where you’ll be staying awhile; leastways until someone coughs up for yer safe return.” The highwayman’s voice sounded harsher, colder while imparting this, as if his words were poisoned by the rancid air as they fell from his lips.

“Whereabouts are we?” Padraic asked, curious as to whether his rogue would answer.

“The Strand.”

It was as he’d expected. They were in the warren of narrow, filthy streets and alleyways in the densely populated slums. Home to one of London’s most notorious Rookeries. An utterly lawless labyrinth of squalid living, gin dens, bawdy houses, and brothels. Popular legend told of a traveller who had entered Portugal Street on his way to The Strand and never emerged. His ghost was, apparently, still searching for a way back to civilization. Padraic would just have to hope to fare rather better than he.

The Duke had e’er been horrified that people were forced to live this way, right under the refined noses of the ton. Poles apart, but virtually overlapping in proximity. Padraic had poured thousands into funding an orphanage and school for foundlings, when he came into his inheritance. He visited them oft, choosing the staff himself to ensure that no child was ill-treated, but there was only so much he could do. With all the will in the world, there wasn’t a great deal to be done, as long as those in power turned a blind eye to the suffering of others.

“Whoa…” When Demon clattered to a halt on the cobblestones, the Duke reluctantly relinquished his grip about his captor’s person. The scoundrel shifted in the saddle and with one sharp tug, the kerchief was gone, alongside a fair few strands of hair that were tangled into its knot. The Duke scarce felt the sting as his hungry gaze guzzled the sight it had been denied for the duration of the ride. ’Twas with a devilish wink that the highwayman threw a leg over the horse’s head, before lightly dismounting.

“Billy, m’lad!” He hailed a youth seated on the front steps of a large dilapidated townhouse, holding a lantern aloft. An endearing grin lit up his grimy face as he sprang to his feet.

“Yer all right, Raff?” he chirped, in very genuine cockney tones.

“Too right I am. We ’ave ourselves a guest m’friend. Yer Grace, this is Billy—he ain’t got another name—so I can’t tell yer that. Billy, this ’ere is His Grace, The Duke of Waterford, so yer better mind your p’s ’n’ q’s, like I taught yer.”

“Hello Billy, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Padriac greeted him.

“Lawks! I can’t fink why, Yer…Grace?” Billy glanced at the man he’d called Raff, seeking reassurance for his form of address, and received an approving nod.

“I can’t think why ’twould not be.” Padraic smiled. Billy looked puzzled for a moment—as if trying to make sense of something he’d patently understood—then just beamed instead and reached for Demon’s halter.

“See that he’s rubbed down and well-fed, won’t you, Billy? I need to get our guest settled in.”

“Righto. C’mon Demon, let’s be ’avin yer, there’s oats awaiting and some fresh hay.”

“After you, Yer Grace…” The rascal sketched a bow, waving his hand with a flourish as he bent extravagantly low, before straightening up to push open the front door. It was painted black; blistered, peeling and desperately in need of a fresh coat. A large, dimly lit hallway lay beyond it, with a wide staircase ascending on the left.

“Raff! I’d almost given up ’ope on ya. Thought you’d gone a-whoring,” announced a stocky, bow-legged man, with close-cropped hair and forearms like lamb shanks. His broad grin revealed several missing teeth, the remaining ones having seen better days. Several decades ago.

Despite having tugged his kerchief down when they entered, Padraic was still unable to drink his fill of Raff’s face, for much of it was cast into shadow and the rest, obscured by a tangled fall of hair.

“Not tonight Bluff, I was off procuring us a guest,” he smirked.

“Crikey, you’ve nabbed a right nob. Who the ’ell is he?”

“This ’ere’s The Duke of Waterford.” Raff declared, inclining his head with divine insolence.

“Lawks! A Duke? Couldn’t yer find a Prince ’anging about then?” Bluff gaped.

“’Fraid not, we’ll just ’ave to slum it…” Raff tutted, with a fulsome sigh.

“I hope yer don’t expect me t’curtsy. I ain’t got the legs for it.”

“You ain’t got the legs for owt except sitting on ’orseback,” Raff retorted, about a breath before his tone darkened to a deadly rasp. “Bluff. See to it that no one. But no one. Lays a finger on him.” He added nary a dire threat, nor had he raised his voice. Raff had, in fact, lowered it to a lethal lash of sound that sliced the air like a whip—but it was the glint of green he levelled at Bluff that made the man swallow visibly while nodding several times.

“Will do, Raff. He’ll fetch a pretty price, won’t he?”

“Too bloody right, he will. I’ll have to keep him up top with me—Duke he might be—but he ain’t above being too ripe and ready by ’alf.”

“A dark ’orse is he? I ain’t at all surprised, now you mention it. Beggin’ yer pardon, Yer Dukeness. Right, I’ll just wait for Billy an’ lock up then.”

“Thanks, Bluff. ’Night.”

“’Night Raff…’night yer Dukeness.” Bluff doffed an imaginary cap at Padraic, who inclined his head with ducal gravity, so as not to disappoint him. The amiable miscreant was chuckling away to himself as he took his leave of them, before disappearing through a door further down the hallway.

“Right then, Yer Grace, up yer go. Right to the top,” Raff instructed, gesturing towards the staircase with a regal sweep of his hand.

“Are you locking me in the attic?” Padraic asked, as he clasped the bannister.

“I am, indeed. Yer can’t get up to any mischief up there.”

The Duke thought it might be wise to hold his tongue and make his way upstairs, afore the scoundrel decided to shove him in the coal cellar instead. Padraic’s brain was abuzz with demon steeds, daft monikers, and bandy-legged blackguards. A boy with only one name and a heart of gold.

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About the Author

After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, Zakarrie settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea.

’Twas here that her castaway dreams resurfaced and she began to write; stories that are, in truth, better at being her than she’s ever been.

Her one hope now is that someone, somewhere, will enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she loves writing them.

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Lily Morton almost kills me again with her fabulous snarky romances

Gideon (Finding Home, #3)Gideon by Lily Morton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I need more stars. I also need to learn not to drink tea at the same time as I read a Lily Morton book because this one nearly killed me five times in the first 20%.

Redemption stories are probably one of the highest forms of kryptonite for me (it comes in a variety not just the green one 😉 ) and with Gideon, Lily crafts one that works so well because, when we actually get to know Gideon, it’s not really a redemption so much as a realisation.

Gideon is a little boy lost, in his heart he’s still a seven-year-old being parcelled off to boarding school by two parents who were too busy for him, but not too busy when his younger brother Milo came long just three years later.

He’s found fame as a top Hollywood actor, but it’s come at the hands of a Machiavellian manager who I wanted to eviscerate slowly. I don’t think I’ve hated a character with as much venom as I did Frankie for quite a while (apart from Peter in Annabelle Jacobs’ Wounded Soul because he was just evil!

But Eli, oh he was such a gem of a character, I could hear his Welsh lit in the words he spoke, his kindness, his snark – because this wouldn’t be a Lily book without a snappy retort and lots of sarcasm – and the unfailing way he just got Gideon.

He saw inside to the hurt boy and he nurtured the love that Gideon was desperate to share but didn’t know how. And let me tell you, when Eli takes Gideon to bed the first time that scene is everything!

This book explains so much about why and how Gideon became the closed off, surface selfish man he appears, but the truth is so very different.

There’re the usual awesome contributions from the rest of the Cornish cast and the way they rally round Gideon is really special to read, especially how he behaved like an arse the last time he was at Chi an Mor.

Grumpy Gideon falling in love might just be my favourite thing I’ve read from Lily (until she gives me that rare breeds farmer she keeps promising).

As a PS, I still find it hilarious Lily hadn’t realised that, when placed side by side, the Finding Home series titles spell out OMG 😉

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

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This might just be my favourite from this excellent author

wicked games-eBook-completeWicked Games by Aimee Nicole Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might just be my favourite Aimee Nicole Walker book ever.

When I first started my journalism career, I had a G4 Mac and one of the games on it was Where In The World Is Carmen Santiago.

I loved everything about this book, but the nods to that classic adventure game might just have sealed the deal.

Heist stories are tough to pull off but Aimee got the pacing absolutely perfect for this one.

I loved the sparks between Ryder and Lucien, I loved the humour, I loved the daring do and action elements, I loved the secondary characters and I absolutely adored Carmen.

I love books with female characters who are integrally involved in the narrative and she was a real surprise.

I also very much appreciated the correct spelling of whisky as it pertained to a fine Scottish single malt too 😉

More please from this fabulous new series! And look at that cover, it’s absolutely perfect for these two gorgeous characters.

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

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