The Hell You Say (The Adrien English Mysteries #3) by Josh Lanyon

Demons, death threats…
and Christmas shopping.
It’s gonna be one Hell of a Holiday.
In the third in the popular Adrien English series, the “ill-starred and bookish” mystery writer has to contend with a Satanic cult, a handsome university professor and his on-again/off-again relationship with the eternally conflicted LAPD Detective Jake Riordan.
And, oh, yes, murder…

This book could not have had a better title – for so many reasons. By the end of The Hell You Say, I really wasn’t sure if I was more mad at Adrien or Jake. I don’t want to give anything away, because honestly, readers need to walk away as shell shocked as everyone else, but Jake infuriated me. On the flip side, I was almost as upset with Adrien for letting Jake treat him the way he did. In short, I wanted to shake sense into the pair of them. Grrr….

As far as the mystery went, I like where this one went. It was a little spooky, which I really like and the “who-dun-it” aspect kept things moving. A new character was thrown into the mix that I’m pretty sure readers are going to see more of – at least I hope so. Things definitely need to be shaken up in a very big way.

By the end of A Dangerous Thing I was really hoping… oh well. Death of a Pirate King is next and I can’t wait to see where things go from here.

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A Dangerous Thing (The Adrien English Mysteries #2) by Josh LanyonDangerousT

Suffering from writer’s block and frustrated with his tentative relationship with hot but closeted L.A.P.D. Homicide Detective Jake Riordan, gay bookseller and mystery writer Adrien English travels to northern California where he finds a body in his front drive. By the time the sheriffs arrive, the body has disappeared, and Adrien once again finds himself playing amateur sleuth. But when the game turns deadly, Adrien turns to Jake. Jake may be confused about some things, but keeping his lover alive is not one of them–no matter what the cost.
Who are the mysterious strangers excavating on his land? And will he sort out his problems with LAPD Detective Jake Riordan, heavily into S/M sex but not so hot on relationships? Find out in this engrossing, slyly witty thriller.

This is another one of those series that I wish I had started earlier, but the fact that I didn’t is making it fun to read them practically back to back.

A Dangerous Thing took Adrien out of his bookstore and traveling to a semi-isolated area to hopefully get past his writer’s block. He ended up getting a lot more than he bargained for.

This is one of those books with so many twists and turns it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad. Since local law enforcement seems like they’ll be providing no help at all, Adrien calls the only person he can think of… Jake.

I haven’t been a fan of Jake so far in The Adrien English Mysteries, but he made some progress in A Dangerous Thing. He still won’t commit, but he seemed to be softening a little… maybe. The danger and mystery kept the pages turning and there were even a couple heated moments between Jake and Adrien that were long overdue.

I’m kind of behind on some of my reviews so at the time I wrote this, I’d already read The Hell You Say and… well, stay tuned. Things get even more interesting. Let’s just say I’ve got my fingers crossed and can’t wait to start Death of a Pirate King. *sigh*

One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Shattered by their devastating breakup, Detective Levi Abrams and PI Dominic Russo find themselves at war right when they need each other most. While Dominic is trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction, Levi despairs of ever catching the Seven of Spades. The ruthless vigilante’s body count continues to climb, and it’s all Levi can do to keep up with the carnage.
When Levi’s and Dominic’s paths keep crossing in the investigation of a kidnapping ring with a taste for mutilation, it feels like history repeating itself. Thrown together by fate once again, they reluctantly join forces in their hunt for the mastermind behind the abductions.
But the Seven of Spades hates sharing the spotlight, and they have an ace in the hole: a new batch of victims with a special connection to Levi. Their murders send shockwaves through Las Vegas and change the rules of the game forever.
The Seven of Spades has upped the ante. If Levi and Dominic don’t play their cards right, they’ll end up losing everything.

So… my first reaction when I finished One-Eyed Royals was… I might have to knock off 1/2 a star… hovering between 4.5 and 5 for REASONS! #EvilAuthor – It’s been a while and that opinion still stands. This author is killing me!

One-Eyed Royals picks up almost where Cash Plays left off, which is both good and bad. Good because readers left Levi and Dom in a not so good place at the end of the last book. Bad because things haven’t changed much. They still aren’t back together and neither have budged. Levi has found some interesting ways to keep Dom from gambling and Dom still insists he doesn’t have a problem. Yet, they couldn’t stay away from each other, which became even more difficult when their cases keep causing them to cross paths. It would also be a lot less difficult if they didn’t still love each other.

The Seven of Spades is also taking a more personal interest in Levi – at least where his current victims are concerned. Levi has his own demons that he’s struggling with and he’s trying to keep in check. The Seven of Spades is pushing buttons that Levi wasn’t proud of.

I’m not gonna lie – there was one point in One-Eyed Royals that I wanted to smack Levi. I honestly couldn’t believe that he… well, you’re just going to have to read it and experience the frustration for yourself.

I have a few ideas about who the Seven of Spades may be, but I’m not positive. There’s one book left and even though Levi and Dom were in a pretty good place at the end of One-Eyed Royals, no one’s really going to be safe until the Seven of Spades is caught. Needless to say, I can’t wait until A Chip and a Chair is released.

High Time (Solomon Mysteries #3) by Keelan Ellis

When skeletal remains turn up in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Detective Paul Solomon is pessimistic about their chances of solving the case. But a clue discovered near the bones soon leaves his partner, Tim Cullen, in little doubt as to their identity. As the case leads him close to home, Tim struggles to find a balance between professional responsibility and family, testing Paul’s patience and loyalty in the process.
In his personal life, Paul wrestles with his own increasingly precarious balancing act. His friendship with David Haygood threatens his new relationship with Owen, and he finds himself questioning not only his own judgment but his motivations as well. When Paul makes a choice that may irreparably damage his budding romance, the only person he can think to turn to is his ex-lover and friend Andy.
As Paul and Tim sift through details of the short life of a young woman who died over a quarter of a century ago, what eventually emerges from the web of connections and coincidence is a story that’s both shocking and sadly familiar to the seasoned detectives.

I really liked Good Boys, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed High Time just as much. I mentioned in my review of the first book in the Solomon Mysteries series that one of the things that pulled me in was the fact that I was familiar with the area that the book took place. Baltimore isn’t far from where I grew up. Things got even more interesting for me in High Time when Paul and Tim end up close to where I currently live. That’s not the only reason I like this series though, just an added bonus. 😉

Paul’s a great detective, but his personal life is a mess. His best friend is dating his partner, he’s friends with someone who is admittedly attracted to him, he’s still friends with his ex and he has no idea how to be in a relationship – even though he really cares about Owen. Things get really complicated when the current case he’s working on hits way too close to those near and dear to Tim.

For the record, I got as aggravated with Paul in High Time as Owen did – and he’s not the only one who called him out on his actions. Speaking of which, the supporting characters pretty much make this series for me. The mystery wasn’t bad either 😉

Then, there was the location. Since I’m familiar with the area that Tim and Paul traveled to, I picked up on a couple of things that a lot of readers won’t. Still, the accuracy was pretty good and recognizing landmarks was kinda fun. I also learned some things about some sneaky ways that officials collect info…

I’m pretty sure that there’s more to come and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Solomon Mysteries.

Lock Nut (The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #5) by J.L. Merrow

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.
The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.
Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

Another great mystery and another case of miscommunication. If I didn’t love these two so much, I might have gotten a tad aggravated with them. *sigh*

Honestly, I think my aggravation stems from the fact that I’ve always liked Tom and his sense of humor. When he gets so wrapped up in himself and acts like he’s not being treated fairly… that just doesn’t fit with the part of his personality that I fell in love with. I’m just not used to liking Phil more than Tom, but I guess that explains why Tom loves him so much. Regardless of my on again, off again feelings toward Tom, Lock Nut was a great addition and fitting end to the series. (Although I wouldn’t object to checking in on them in the future 😉 )

There was a lot going on in this book, especially where the mystery was concerned. I can honestly say that I didn’t figure out the who of the “who-dun-it” until close to the end, but I don’t want to give anything away. You’ll just have to pick up Lock Nut and follow the trail to the bad guy yourself.

There were a couple of HEAs by the end of this one and everything was wrapped up quite nicely. It took Tom and Phil awhile, but I think the journey was worth it.

Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can’t pass up a chance to meet his favorite author.
Carter’s roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa’s books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler’s death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there’s anyone on the tour he can trust.
Drawn into the intrigue, Carter searches for answers, trying to fend off his growing attraction toward John. As unexplained tragedies continue, the whole tour must face the fact that there may be a murderer in their midst—but who?

I’m pretty far behind with my Josh Lanyon reads. Murder Takes the High Road is only the third book I’ve read by this author. (Fatal Shadows & Dangerous Ground) I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to pick one up, but now that I’ve gotten a taste for this author’s style, I’ll definitely be checking out more.

There was a lot going on in Murder Takes the High Road, but it didn’t make things confusing. It simply made the pages turn faster. There was the fact that Carter had to dodge his ex at every corner (along with his new significant other), the mystery of who exactly John was and what he was doing on a tour centered around a specific author who he obviously knew little or nothing about, the mystery of death apparently plaguing the trip and the actual tour itself.

The romance was sweet, the mystery was intriguing and the suspense was nail biting… I loved every minute of it. 😉 Twists, turns, mysteries within mysteries, a fairly unlikely suspect and just a little bit of romantic heat. The perfect mix. 😉

Fatal Shadows (The Adrien English Mysteries #1) by Josh Lanyon

One sunny morning Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English opens his front door to murder. His old high school buddy (and employee) has been found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and very public argument with Adrien the previous evening.
Naturally the cops want to ask Adrien a few questions; they are none too impressed with his answers, and when a few hours later someone breaks into Adrien’s shop and ransacks it, the law is inclined to think Adrien is trying to divert suspicion from himself.
Adrien knows better. Adrien knows he is next on the killer’s list.

I hesitate to label this “Romance” but it’s there, all be it, very little. I guess that’s where my eclectic reading style comes in handy, because when the story is good and the characters draw me in, I don’t miss the heat between two characters. Especially when they are just getting to know each other.

I also have a teensy weensy confession to make, Fatal Shadows has been sitting on my Kindle just chillin’ away for quite some time. Don’t even ask why it’s taken me so long to finally pick it up, because I have no idea. Now that I have though, rest assured I will be seeking out the rest of the books in the Adrien English Mysteries. Sooner, rather than later. I loved Adrien’s “voice” in Fatal Shadows. He was witty, smart and funny. I really like characters who don’t take themselves too seriously, and Adrien definitely fell into that category.

It also should be mentioned that this was my first Josh Lanyon book, but it will not be my last. As a matter of fact, I just picked up another ARC, so stay tuned. 😉

 

Dark Horse (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping #1) by B.J. Daniels

For twenty-five years, the case of the McGraw twins kidnapping has remained unsolved. As the eldest son, Cull oversees the McGraw horse ranch, wary of prying eyes. So when true-crime writer Nikki St. James comes forward with new information, Cull can’t believe his father invites her onto the compound. His family has suffered enough—he’s not about to let St. James snoop and ruin them completely. But Nikki finds the eldest McGraw’s protectiveness as endearing as it is aggravating. After all, this case is personal to her, too… And her secrets can set the truth free—if they don’t destroy the McGraws first.

I’m not sure exactly what happened with Dark Horse, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I think it might have been because things seemed a little rushed. It just seemed like there wasn’t enough time for either Nikki or Cull to change their opinions about each other… but that’s just me.

Other than the rushed romance, I kind of enjoyed the mystery behind Dark Horse. It was an interesting premise and it wasn’t solved by the end of this first book. Because of that, I might just have to check out Dead Ringer, just to see how the mystery progresses. 

Back to You by Chris Scully

Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.
Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.
As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.

I’ve only read one other book by Chris Scully, but Back to You made it pretty clear that I need to seek out more of her books. Until September wasn’t a mystery. It was more of an emotional story. That’s not to say that Back to You wasn’t emotional, because it was. In fact, the mystery just added another layer to the emotion. A huge layer – one that it was impossible to ignore.

Alex was the last person that Ben expected to have walk back into his life, but Alex couldn’t wait to reconnect with Ben. Things didn’t go exactly like Alex expected though, especially when Ben found out that Alex had more than one reason to come back. Alex got more than he bargained for and things got complicated fast.

I loved the connection between Alex and Ben and the fact that their initial reunion was strained made the story more realistic. Ben was leery of Alex’s intentions, but he was still drawn to him. The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Ben’s sister had a few twists and turns. The obsession that Ben’s mom had with her missing daughter didn’t help, especially since Alex’s interest seemed to fuel it.

I can honestly say that the mystery had me guessing until close to the very end. The outcome had a tragic impact more than one family, but it helped heal more than one too. The romance was as good as the mystery, which are just a couple of reasons why I’ll definitely be looking for more from this author. 😉

Olive Juice by T.J. Klune

It begins with a message that David cannot ignore:
I want to see you.
He agrees, and on a cold winter’s night, David and Phillip will come together to sift through the wreckage of the memory of a life no longer lived.
David is burdened, carrying with him the heavy guilt of the past six years upon his shoulders.
Phillip offers redemption.

Not your typical T.J. Klune read… but that’s not a bad thing. Actually, after thinking about it a little more, there’s absolutely nothing typical about Olive Juice. That’s not a bad thing either.

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while for a couple of reasons. First, I needed time to wrap my head around this book. It was a fairly quick read, but it was by no means an easy one. Second, readers have been warned to not give away any spoilers – for good reason. That’s usually not an issue for me, but this one has me walking on egg shells and prepare yourself for one of my vaguest reviews. *sigh*

As the description states, the story starts with a text and a simple statement. “I want to see you.” Nothing about the rest of the book is simple though. It’s a lot of things. Painful, depressing, heart breaking and yet at times beautiful. My heart broke for both Phillip and David. Readers get glimpses of the past a little at a time, so things are revealed slowly. Which, oddly enough, kept the pages turning. I found myself needing to know where the pain was coming from.

After reading the description and knowing this author, I expected tears. As much as my heart broke for these characters, it didn’t affect me the way I thought it would. I’m not sure why and I know that it wasn’t the same for all readers. It was a powerful read regardless and it touched me in a way that not many books do. That is very typical of this author and one of the many reasons I love his work.