Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon

Once a bad boy, the only lines Professor Sebastian Swift does these days are Browning, Frost and Cummings. When a student he helped to disappear becomes a suspect in a murder, he races to find the boy and convince him to give himself up before his police chief lover figures out he’s involved. 
Max likes being lied to even less than he likes sonnets. Yet his instincts–and his heart– tell him his lover is being played. Max can forgive lies and deception, but a dangerous enemy may not stop until Swift is heading up his own dead poet’s society

I’m not sure how I missed some of Josh Lanyon’s earlier books, but the fact that a lot of them are being re-released is helping me catch up. Come Unto These Yellow Sands is one of those books and although I wasn’t quite sure about it in the beginning, it didn’t take me long to get totally wrapped up in the suspense.

To be honest, part of what held me back in this one was Max. Sometimes getting just one character’s POV can skew a reader’s perspective. That’s not a bad thing, although it can be frustrating. Sometimes, even without the other characters POV you can still see things from that character that can clue you in to what the main character may not see. Not so with Max. Fair or not, I didn’t like him from the beginning and got caught up in Swift’s emotions about their relationship. Turns out we were both wrong – it took a while for him to redeem himself though, which just added to the suspense. Swift had no idea where he stood and for a while had no idea whether or not Max had his back.

There were a lot of twists and turns in Come Unto These Yellow Sands and a lot of players. It was hard to tell the good guys from the bad and in the end readers still aren’t sure that everyone was brought to justice. For the record, I love it when an author proves me wrong about my initial reaction to a character – and Josh Lanyon has done that more than once, so I shouldn’t have been surprised this time. I wouldn’t mind another story centered around this duo, which I most definitely didn’t see coming. 😉

Scandal at the Salty Dog (Secrets & Scrabble #4) by Josh Lanyon

Mystery Stalks the Cobbled Streets of Pirate’s Cove.
Who or what is haunting elderly recluse Juliet Blackwell, what does it have to do with mysterious goings-on at the Salty Dog Pub–and why is any of it mystery bookshop owner Ellery Page’s problem? According to sometimes boyfriend Police Chief Jack Carson, it’s not Ellery’s problem, and Ellery should stop asking awkward questions before it’s too late.
Ellery couldn’t agree more, but it’s hard to say no when someone is as frightened as old Mrs. Blackwell. Mrs. Blackwell insists the ghost of long dead pirate Rufus Blackwell has come to avenge himself on the last member of his treacherous clan.
Before Ellery can say, “Yikes!” Mrs. Blackwell takes a tumble down the grand staircase of her spooky mansion, and it’s up to Ellery to find who is trying to kill his eccentric customer.

I’ve adored Ellery since the very first book in Secrets & Scrabble (Murder at Pirate’s Cove). He’s one of those sweet quirky characters that I love to find in cozy mysteries. Jack’s taken some getting used to, but that’s mainly because of the stand offish way he’s treated Ellery since that very first book. (I’m nothing if not loyal to my favorite characters. 😉 ) I have to admit that Jack’s growing on me though and seems to have come around. To be fair, he had his reasons, so he can now consider himself almost forgiven.

Scandal at the Salty Dog had a lot going on which in the beginning seemed totally unrelated. Much to Jack’s lament, Ellery has gained a reputation of being an amateur sleuth. To be honest, Ellery isn’t much happier about the title, but it’s hard to argue with a town full of eccentric characters like those who reside in Pirate’s Cove. Once again, Ellery finds himself in more than one dangerous situation and an exasperated Jack has to come to his rescue.

Secrets & Scrabble is full of humor, a touch (and sometimes more) of danger, off the page romance between two unlikely characters, suspense and good mysteries. All the perfect ingredients in a fun cozy mystery. I always look forward to the next installment. Speaking of which, Body at Buccaneer’s Bay is coming soon. 😉

Bell, Book and Scandal (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #3) by Josh Lanyon

Black Magic. Blackmail. Little Black Books. Must a witch break his vows to save his marriage?
Cosmo Saville loves that his husband has finally accepted his witchy ways. And in return, his promise to stay out of police business guarantees them a happily ever after. At least, until he discovers he might be responsible for a dangerous game of blackmail…
Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith feels relieved that his marriage is back on track. Especially since he has his hands full with a high-profile suicide and rumors of a city-wide extortion ring. But when he stumbles across Cosmo breaking his vow by playing cop, John agonizes over old wounds.
With the commissioner’s badge and family in jeopardy, Cosmo has no choice but to put his life on the line…
Can the witch expose a dark conspiracy, save John’s career, and return to love’s delicious spell?
Bell, Book and Scandal is the third book in the Bedknobs and Broomsticks romantic gay mystery trilogy. If you like quirky characters, snappy spells, and madcap suspense, then you’ll love Josh Lanyon’s supernatural story.

John and Cosmo are such an unlikely couple. So much so that I sometimes wonder while reading this series why Cosmo puts himself through what he does to stay with John. The heart is a fickle thing though and even though I spent some time being frustrated with the police commissioner and in fear for Cosmo’s heart, I have to admit that the man not only surprised me in Bell, Book and Scandal, he even impressed me a little bit.

Cosmo finds himself in a no win situation in Bell, Book and Scandal. He doesn’t purposely try to break his promise to John, but trouble seems to follow him – even when he’s trying his hardest to avoid it. He may be at the center of a case John’s trying to solve without even knowing it. He soon finds out that it may involve more than some of the city’s prominent figures. His family may be in danger as well. Whether John wants to admit it or not, Cosmo may be the only one who can get to the bottom of the mystery.

Hex in the City is the next book in the Bedknobs and Broomsticks series.

Mystery at the Masquerade (Secrets and Scrabble #3) by Josh Lanyon

Love is in the Salt Sea Air–and So is Murder!
Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, the Crow’s Nest, is both flattered and bemused when he’s invited to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade, the best and biggest social event of the season in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove, Rhode Island. The event is hosted by the wealthy Marguerite Bloodworth-Ainsley—a descendant of the famed pirate Tom Blood.Ellery doesn’t even know Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley—nor, it turns out—does Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley know him. But Marguerite’s son, Julian wants to know Ellery. Julian, handsome, rich and engaging, is a huge mystery buff. In fact, he’s bought quite a few books at the Crow’s Nest bookstore, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask Ellery out. As his relationship with Police Chief Carson seems to be dead in the water, Ellery is grateful for a little flattering attention from the village’s most eligible bachelor, but any hopes of romance hit the shoals when Julian is accused of murdering his mother’s unlikable second husband during the Masquerade’s annual ghost hunt in the family’s spooky cemetery

Ellery certainly has a way of finding trouble… or trouble usually finds a way of finding him. Regardless of how it happens, Police Chief Jack Carson is not impressed. But, since Jack has made it pretty clear that friendship is the only thing he’s interested in from Ellery, impressing Jack is the least of Ellery’s concerns.

Jack’s one of those characters that I really wanted to like, but because of the way he’s treated Ellery since the beginning of the Secrets and Scrabble series, I really can’t. I’ve spent a lot of time so far feeling that Ellery could do so much better. For the record, Julian was interesting, but I couldn’t quite see him with Ellery either. *sigh*

Ellery is flattered by Julian’s interest at first, but it becomes increasingly clear that a real relationship with the man isn’t in their future. Having Julian being accused of murder didn’t help, but it was pretty obvious before that. Regardless, Ellery feels bound to help Julian when he asks for it and once again gets drawn into an investigation he never intended to become a part of, as well as landing in the middle of all the danger surrounding the case. Hence, Jack’s frustration.

I enjoyed spending time with Ellery again, who is becoming one of my favorite amateur sleuths. The mystery was intriguing and the characters were witty and fun. Even the quaint setting is a place I’d love to visit, if not for all the unfortunate murders. I also have to admit that by the end of Mystery at the Masquerade, Jack was even beginning to grow on me. Time will tell and I can’t wait for their next adventure. 😉

Strange Fortune by Josh Lanyon

Dashing soldier of fortune Major Valentine Strange, late of the Emperor of Alba’s 21st Regiment of Benhali Lancers, is hired by Brahman Ehimay Warrick to find a legendary diadem reputedly hidden in a lost monastery somewhere deep in the distant, snowy mountains of Hidush.
To ensure Strange’s success in this quest vital to the future of the politically unstable Hidush, the powerful Holy Orders designate Master Aleister Grimshaw, a powerful young witch with his own history of instability—political and other—to accompany the dashing major.
But long before Strange and the unwilling Grimshaw reach the tea bushes of the foothills and the lost city of Nagara, they realize there are forces both natural and unnatural at work to stop them from ever achieving their objective.
Their only chance for success relies on each other and their tentative friendship—as does their only hope for survival.

I have this distracting mental block when it comes to historical books and even though Strange Fortune isn’t exactly historical, it has that ‘historical’ feel. That’s what I’m blaming the fact that it took me a while to get into this book. Once I got to know Strange and Aleister a little better, it didn’t take long for me to become invested in their story.

Aleister didn’t argue with those who thought he was losing his mind, because he felt it was true. At first, Strange wouldn’t have argued with that conclusion either, but the more time he spent with Aleister, the more he realized that there was something more going on. Something that couldn’t be explained and something that wasn’t just in Aleister’s head.

As the description states, there were a lot of powers at play, both physical and supernatural. It was hard at times to tell who could and couldn’t be trusted and those changed as the story progressed. Between the action, suspense and just the need to find out what exactly was going on, Strange Fortune became harder and harder to put down. The romance played a backseat to the action and suspense, but was still a sweet part of the story.

Strange Fortune is a book from Josh Lanyon’s back list. Since I didn’t catch it the first time around, when it was written doesn’t really matter. After all, a good story is timeless. ❤

The Dark Tide (Adrien English Mysteries #5) by Josh Lanyon

Like recovering from heart surgery beneath the gaze of his over-protective family isn’t exasperating enough, someone keeps trying to break into Adrien English’s bookstore. What is this determined midnight intruder searching for?
When a half-century old skeleton tumbles out of the wall in the midst of Cloak and Dagger Bookstore’s renovation, Adrien turns to hot and handsome ex-lover Jake Riordan — now out-of-the closet and working as a private detective.
Jake is only too happy to have reason to stay in close contact with Adrien, but there are more surprises in Adrien’s past than either one of them expects — and one of them may prove hazardous to Jake’s own heart.

In The Dark Tide, the tables were turned. Not that Adrien was ever the “pursuer,” but he definitely seemed more interested in a relationship than Jack ever did. He was usually the one left by Jake with little or no commitment. In fact, he made it abundantly clear more than once that there could never be a relationship between them. Things changed in Death of a Pirate King though – drastically. Now it’s Jake’s turn to wait for Adrien to make a choice. It was fun to watch Jake squirm for a change, but I also felt for him… just a little bit.

As with the rest of the books in this series, The Dark Tide was about much more than the relationship between Adrien and Jake. The mystery was front and center and it was another good one that kept me guessing and the pages turning.

The Dark Tide was a fitting finale to The Adrien English Mysteries series, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to say goodbye. There’s one more story left and the last short story, So This is Christmas, has most definitely made it onto my TBR pile. I doubt that it will be enough though *sigh* The good news is that I can now revisit the series whenever I want – that’s what re-reads are for, right?

Secret at Skull House (Secrets and Scrabble #2) by Josh Lanyon

Ellery Page is back–and in hot water again!
Unlike everyone else in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he’s purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.
Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up–especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn’t all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?
Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson’s first–and only–suspect.

Poor Ellery, he just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. As unlikely as it seems that he’d find himself accused of murder again in such a short amount of time and in such a small community, it did make for a good story.

Even with the short time that readers spent with Brandon Abbott, it was pretty obvious why he and Ellery never made it as a couple. Brandon was a hard person to like and even though some were curious, there were a fair amount of residents of Pirate’s Cove that weren’t impressed. Along with that and the secrets that circled around Skull House, the list of people who would want him to disappear, but of course Ellery turned into the prime suspect. Which of course caused a strain on the “friendship” between Ellery and the police chief. Especially when Ellery saw no alternative than to try to prove his innocence, since it seemed that no one else was going to look for anyone else.

Rumors flew, conspiracies were whispered, tempers flared and Ellery had no idea who he could and couldn’t trust. Secret at Skull House was still a fun, sweet story and I can’t wait for the series to continue. Without giving too much away, I have to admit that Jack was not one of my favorite characters this time around. Maybe if I had his POV in Secret at Skull House I would have sympathized with him just a little bit more, but it may have been a totally different story if I had, and I really liked getting to know Ellery just a little bit more. Kinda reminds me of my feelings when reading a story about another bookseller and policeman…hmmm?

Murder at Pirate’s Cove (Secrets and Scrabble #1) by Josh Lanyon

Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!
Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller–and head of the unwelcoming-committee–Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.
Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.

I love a good cozy mystery. Murder at Pirate’s Cove is billed as a “no on-screen sex or violence” mystery and it means it. So, if you draw a line at smexiness and violence, this is a great read to, well, cozy up to. 😉

Ellery was totally out of his element. He had inherited a mystery book store and crumbling, eclectic, mausoleum-ish house from a distant relative he didn’t even know. He was looking for a fresh start, but he may not have thought his game plan through… or maybe not at all. Especially considering that his fresh start was in a small close-knit community that wasn’t so much welcoming as they were intent on pushing him out. At least that’s how it felt. Once the murder(s) started happening, he considered cutting his losses, but first he had to prove his innocence.

Murder at Pirate’s Cove was a great intro to this series. It had witty, eccentric characters, a sweet budding romance and a mystery that kept you guessing. A lot of danger in a small town, but that’s usually how cozy mysteries go. Secret at Skull House is next and I can’t wait to see what trouble Ellery finds himself in next.

I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs & Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon

Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies—and some very black magic—are about to bring his fairytale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spellcasters—and the only person Cosmo can turn to—the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him—isn’t taking his phone calls.
The only magic Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch—a witch with something alarmingly like magical powers—is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him. John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.
Till Death do them Part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Commissioner Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy…
Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes true love’s flame?

Funny story… this is my second read of I Buried a Witch. I read it at the end of last year, but it showed up on my TBR list on GoodReads. Now, I know that I could have backdated the read, because I definitely did read it, but I thought what the heck? It definitely wasn’t a hardship on my part to read the book again, so here we are. (This time I double checked to make SURE it was marked correctly on GR.)

You probably already guessed that I considered I Buried a Witch a great addition to Josh Lanyon’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks series. I have to admit that I went into this one a little leery after reading Mainly by Moonlight. Not because I didn’t like the book, but because John and Cosmo’s relationship was sorta doomed from the start and this book’s description is kinda ominous. I wasn’t wrong to be hesitant, but I’m glad I decided to dive in (twice). 😉

The mystery from the Mainly by Moonlight continues in I Buried a Witch, in a round about way. Much to John’s dismay, Cosmo finds himself playing amateur detective. John started growing on me by the end of the last book, but he lost some major points in I Buried a Witch. He had some definite old fashioned ways of thinking how marriage worked. Cosmo took it for the most part, mainly because he felt guilty for the secrets he was keeping from John. Eventually enough was enough and the inevitable blow-up happened.

Beyond the break-up, there was a mystery to solve and the danger was coming way too close to home. There were also some revelations about John’s family that threw and extra twist or two in the story. Things were looking a little bit better by the end of I Buried a Witch, so I’m not as worried about starting Bell, Book and Scandal. Even so, I’m also pretty sure that John and Cosmo haven’t gotten past all of their relationship hurdles. *sigh*

Mainly by Moonlight (Bedknobs & Broomsticks #1) by Josh Lanyon

MainlyByMoonlightCosmo Saville guiltily hides a paranormal secret from his soon-to-be husband. Thanks to a powerful love spell, uncertainty threatens his nuptial magic. But when he’s arrested for allegedly killing a longtime rival, he could spend his honeymoon behind bars…
Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith never believed in love until Cosmo came along. Falling head over heels for the elegant antiques dealer is an enchantment he never wants to break. So when all fingers point to Cosmo’s guilt, John races to prove his fiancé’s innocence before they take their vows.
As Cosmo hunts for the real killer among the arcane aristocracy, John warns him to leave it to the police. But with an unseen enemy threatening to expose Cosmo’s true nature, the couple’s blissful future could shatter like a broken charm.
Can Cosmo find the lost grimoire, clear his name, and keep John’s love alive, or will black magic “rune” their wedding bells?

Cosmo was one of those fun, quirky characters that you definitely wouldn’t think of becoming the perfect match for a straight-laced Police Commissioner. Stranger things have happened though, especially in Cosmo’s life.

The supporting characters were great – even when they weren’t being, well… supportive. They definitely kept things interesting, that’s for sure. The mystery wasn’t transparent and aside from the murder(s) it was fun read.

There were more than a couple of twists and turns and there are a few clues in the description that allude to one of the biggest. Things sort themselves out though, for the most part and Cosmo and John seem to be well on their way to their HEA – for now.

I’m looking forward to continuing this series with I Buried a Witch, even though I’m not sure what it will mean for Cosmo and John. Since Cosmo’s still keeping some pretty big secrets that John may not handle very well.