Title: Lovers Entwined
Author: Lillian Francis
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Length: 98,968 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Historical Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between (2 scenes between the MCs)
Keywords/Tags: WWI, Pirates, Revolutionary War, British, Paranormal Dreams, Genealogy, Bisexual, Tragedy, Separated Lovers, HEA
Rating: Pretty Good
Reviewed by Sadonna
Ewan is one of Boston’s leading genealogy experts. When a would-be bridegroom comes looking for confirmation that there are no skeletons in his ancestral closet, Ewan considers turning the job down. Trey is a jerk of the highest order and yet Ewan experiences an infuriating attraction that’s easy to justify. Trey’s exactly his type—a carbon copy of the man Ewan’s been looking for his entire life.
Harder to explain is the sense of recognition that leaves Ewan speechless the moment Trey steps into his office. Or the stomach-churning sensation at the thought of casting the job aside.
Trey gets more appealing by the day, leaving Ewan struggling with forbidden desire for his client. Desire not helped by strange voyeuristic dreams that have started to haunt his sleep. Dreams that appear to be an echo of the past…
Ewan Matthews and Trey Capell are thrown together when Ewan proposes to his girlfriend of 4 years and his prospective father-in-law, a rich political candidate running for Mayor in Boston, decides that he needs to “vet” his daughter’s boyfriend’s family before they can announce the engagement. Ewan is the genealogist that Trey is sent to and together then uncover some very interesting coincidences that turn out to be a lot more than coincidences.
In looking into Trey’s family history, it seems his great-great uncle fought in WWI in the British forces. Great-great Uncle Tristan Capell fought in Mesopotamia and his batman was none other than one Owen Matthews. Coincidence? It seems that Trey is a doppelganger for Tristan with the exception of his broken nose courtesy of a wipeout from his surfing days. While we don’t immediately know what Owen looked like, eventually of course it turns out that he is a dead ringer for Ewan.
Trey is chafing under the control of Paige, his fiancé, and also her father and so he escapes their watchful eye by going to “help” Ewan with the research under the pretext of speeding up the process so that they can announce their engagement. While doing this research we learn quite a bit about both men and their family histories. Ewan has grown up without a father and has only recently connected with the grandfather than he has never met. Trey’s father died when he was young and he spent a decade having fun – surfing and hooking up with whoever struck his fancy regardless of gender. Ewan is not impressed at all with Trey upon first meeting him even though he is physically attracted as Trey is exactly the type of man he’s been looking for all his life.
While researching Trey’s local family history, they stumble upon another coincidence in the form of a business partnership between Christian Capell and one Matthew Eugent. Ongoing during this research, Ewan has extremely vivid dreams of these two couple – Tristan and Owen both during and after WWI and Christian and Matthew when they meet as children up through the Revolutionary War.
Trey and Ewan continue to spend time together doing the research and also outside of that excuse when Trey tires of Paige’s family control. Ewan meets Trey’s grandfather on such an occasion and they hit it off right away. While Trey is attracted to Ewan he doesn’t feel like he will be doing the right thing if he doesn’t marry Paige and have a family. He is definitely conflicted about his future for a number of reasons.
As they come closer to discovering the truth about their shared ancestors and their tragic stories, Ewan is desperate to finish the job because his emotionally draining dreams and his continued close proximity to Trey – the man he can never have – are killing him. He can’t sleep, he’s miserable and he can’t seem to focus on anything else either. Things come to a head between Trey and Ewan and much is revealed about the past that influences the future of all of the characters in this story. Cryptic, eh? There are some things the reader should uncover for themselves 🙂
Hmmmmm. Where to start on this review without being totally spoilery? This is an unconventional romance in that until the last three of chapters, most of the romantic action on the page does not actually involve the two main characters. Instead, we see glimpses of the lives of the ancestors of these two men as they have intertwined across the last several centuries. While these couples were really interesting and greatly influence the arc of the story, the pacing of the book was a problem for me. I felt like it took a really long time to get into the core of the relationship of Trey and Ewan and I was about to give up at 30%. I just really wanted more time with those characters rather than all of the time spent in dreams witnessing the stories of the previous Capell/Matthews couples. That being said, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it with the caveat to be prepared for a slower start. I would give the first half of the book a Pretty Good and the second half a Really Liked It rating.
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Lovers Entwined. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Tuesday, August 6. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to the author so the winner can receive their book.
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Posted by Sadonna in 4 Pretty Good, 76-100k, Authors D-F, Giveaways, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Historical, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Bisexual, British, Dreams, Ellora's Cave, Genealogy, HEA, Lillian Francis, Pirates, Revolutionary War, Separated Lovers, Tragedy, WWI
Title: Mr. Perfect’s Christmas
Author: Eva Clancy
Length: 12k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Christmas, British/England, Businessmen/Office, Enemies to Lovers
Rating: Pretty Good
A Christmas gift turns enemies into lovers.
The last thing Sam Warren wants to do is go to his new employer’s Christmas party—particularly since his arch-nemesis, Nick Foster, is going to be there. Nick’s been undermining Sam with his boss, and the fact that Sam can’t help lusting after Nick only complicates the situation. But it seems the Christmas Spirit is at work. When Sam receives an unexpected gift from Nick, it makes him question his assumptions about his rival. Could it be that he’s been misinterpreting Nick’s actions all along? And is his reluctant attraction to Nick reciprocated?
Eva Clancy is a new author for me, and I felt like I was taking a chance reviewing this story, but… well, it’s the season for it and I ended up finding a story that I really enjoyed.
Sam is completely dissatisfied with his life. It’s the Christmas season and a time for looking back at the year, which leads Sam into a depression every time he thinks of it. Once on a career track rising through the London offices before being made redundant, and also losing his lover at the same time, Sam has had to move to a small town and work for a small firm and pretend to be thankful for even having a job at all. And well, it’s not that he isn’t thankful, but he can’t seem to appreciate the fortune he does have when faced with all he’s lost. On top of that, he’s found that he doesn’t actually seem to know much about his job, when faced with clients that don’t have a boatload of cash and a firm with inexhaustible resources.
Somehow, all of that might be okay without the constant reminder of Nick, the “Wonder Boy”. The man whose position Sam filled seems to be everyone’s favorite person, his coworkers, his boss, and well, he’s pretty amazing, so Sam grudgingly admits to himself. He’s handsome, nice, the clients adore him. And he could do Sam’s job better than Sam ever could, making his cocky entrance to a job he thought would be below him frighteningly embarrassing. It becomes even worse when faced with Nick, again, at the Christmas party. Is karma finally collecting it’s due for Sam’s arrogant attitude, or has his misplaced depression colored everything he sees about his new life?
What I most liked about this story was that the characters aren’t who you think they are, not only Nick. Sam’s coworkers, as well as Sam himself change over the story, all because of Nick’s influence as Sam opens up and starts to see his life in an honest way. That was done quite well, in a major part by a rather honest style of prose which shows the characters in a pretty harsh light. Not only does the character change make the story interesting, but it is a perfect compliment to a holiday story, where we want to see the good in people. The story then becomes a bit of a holiday classic, in the sense that Sam is shown his misdeeds in a harsh light, all brought on by his own influence. It is somewhat subtle, yet still the focus of the story, so it didn’t overpower it in any way and worked well.
The romance here was part of that, but came in second in my enjoyment. Much of their relationship is somewhat of an afterthought — or at least implied at the end of the story. Most of what we see is an attraction and an encounter, and are left to our own thoughts about what will happen in the future. I suppose I would have liked to see a little less than perfect Nick. Sam would have a hard time seeing that, because it takes him a while to understand that Nick isn’t the “Wonder Boy” he thought and that he might have misconstrued many things about his workplace, but I would have liked to see Nick be a bit more honest with Sam. Sam finally breaks down and admits it, and I agreed wholeheartedly, that Sam is a bit of an asshole. He whines through a lot of the story and is pretty vain and has a high opinion of himself. Much of this is a front, and like I mentioned before, a front that is shed during the length of the story, but a bit of honest from Nick instead of Nick always saying how wonderful and perfect Sam is would have made their relationship seem a little more honest.
That is really my only critique of the story however. There were a few laughs on the part of Sam’s coworkers, especially a game of Secret Santa. And I liked the story, most of all. I’ll definitely recommend it.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, Authors A-C, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, up to 15k Tags: 2012 MLR Holiday Stories, British, Businessmen, Christmas, Enemies to Lovers, Eva Clancy, MLR Press, Short Story
Title: Pressure Head
Author: JL Merrow
Length: 71,700 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Psychics, Enemies to Lovers, Bullies, British, PIs, Cops/Crime, Awesome Covers!
Rating: Really Liked It
Some secrets are better left hidden.
To most of the world, Tom Paretski is just a plumber with a cheeky attitude and a dodgy hip, souvenir of a schoolboy accident. The local police keep his number on file for a different reason—his sixth sense for finding hidden things.
When he’s called in to help locate the body of a missing woman up on Nomansland Common, he unexpectedly encounters someone who resurrects a host of complicated emotions. Phil Morrison, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case. And the former bully partly responsible for Tom’s injury.
The shocks keep coming. Phil is now openly gay, and shows unmistakable signs of interest. Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent?
As the pile of complicated evidence surrounding the woman’s murder grows higher, so does the heat between Tom and Phil. But opening himself to this degree exposes Tom’s heart in a way he’s not sure he’s ready for…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.
Contains a flirtatious plumber with hidden talents, a cashmere-clad private investigator with hidden depths, and an English village chock full of colourful characters with plenty to hide.
Yay for another novel by JL Merrow!!! She’s one of my favorite authors, and as I told a friend recently, I’m almost nervous when I start reading each successively published novel because I’ve loved them all so much there’s bound to be one that disappoints me. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here and I ended really really thoroughly enjoying this latest offering by a really wonderful author.
Tom Paretski is a plumber with a secret — he’s got a knack for finding things. It’s a bit like dowsing, he can hone in on hidden things, things that have deep emotion attached to them like guilt or shame. Sadly, lost and hidden things include people, and we meet him as his friend on the force Dave, calls him in to look for a local missing woman. Tom’s in for more shock than seeing another dead body, however, when a ghost from his past shows up at the scene as a private investigator hired by the family of the murdered victim.
The last time Tom saw Phil Morrison was when he and his cronies stepped up their high school bullying a bit too far. Tom still lives with the scars of that physical and emotional trauma and seeing the man ten years later dredges all those feelings back up. It doesn’t help that he’s just as attracted to the man as he was back then and it certainly pisses him off that the man is apparently as big of a homo as he is, and completely out of the closet. Phil has an attitude as well, one that might rival Tom’s perpetual snark and their verbal blows start almost immediately. Phil doesn’t believe in his gift, but he needs Tom’s help anyway. They both have vested interest in making sure the current suspect gets treated fairly and together, they might be able to get the answers they need to find the real killer.
Merrow has a knack for slyly mixing genres that really works for me. This story is for all intents and purposes a contemporary mystery romance, with the exception of Tom’s gift. That is perhaps the reason Tom’s gift isn’t given center stage. Though we first get to know him through his gift, it’s often presented as rather unglamorous and second rate to pounding pavement detective work. We get to know Tom as if the gift is just a quirky peccadillo that comes in handy during his plumbing work. Though it does get used, and is central to the plot, the different focus and misdirection worked well to show Tom as an ordinary guy who is rather in over his head in this whole mess.
I really liked Tom. He’s a strong character that has a real moral compass amid the corrupt characters that stock the story. In a way, he’s retained his innocence beneath his jaded veneer, which contrasts nicely with Phil, who harbors rather a lot of guilt and shame over his past. I appreciated that they both came across as assholes every once and a while, trying to work through their shared history (or at times ignore it).
The mystery worked well for me, though hardcore mystery fans might find the story lighter than they’re used to. Much of the story is focused on detective work, but a lot of the focus is on the relationship between Tom and Phil in the midst of it. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t hear what happens to a character that showed up early in the story that I felt rather sorry for, and of course, I could have really done with more of the smexxin from these two because they are sizzling together!
So, once again, I loved this offering from one of my favorite authors and as always look forward to whatever she publishes. This one is definitely recommended.
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Awesome Covers!, British, Bullies/Bullying, Cops/Crime, Enemies to Lovers, JL Merrow, Private Investigators, Psychic, Samhain Publishing