Humbug – Joanna Chambers
Quin Flint is unimpressed when his gorgeous colleague, Rob Paget, asks for extra time off at Christmas. As far as Quin is concerned, Christmas is a giant waste of time. Quin’s on the fast track to partnership, and the season of goodwill is just getting in the way of his next big project. But when Quin’s boss, Marley, confiscates his phone and makes him take an unscheduled day off, Quin finds himself being forced to confront his regrets, past and present, and think about the sort of future he really wants…and who he wants it with.
A highly enjoyable retelling of the classic story of Scrooge in the guise of a workaholic who wouldn’t find the time to take a holiday and expects his subordinates to do the same. Come Christmas time, he found himself alone. Work has eaten up his life and everybody hates him. But good cheer comes from unexpected quarters and he found new love and a new lease on life.
This holiday short is perfect for bed weather days or when you just want to start celebrating early. Because Christmas starts in September why not.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Murder Takes the High Road – Josh Lanyon
From award-winning male/male author Josh Lanyon: a librarian finds himself in a plot right out of one of his favorite mystery novels
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?
This book is approximately 60,000 words.
I would love to go on a ‘Tour to Die for’ across Scotland! Explore old castles, find hidden panels and trap doors, see a headless ghost or two. If ever I do save enough money to go on a trip abroad, I’d make pilgrimages to anime sites in Japan or literary settings in the UK. I hope K.J. Charles does a book tour or maybe Jordan L. Hawk. I wish Widdershin’s a real place.
Murder Takes the High Road is an Agatha Christie-flavored mystery that I couldn’t stop listening to. Poor Carter Matheson, a librarian who had to endure his ex, Trevor and Trevor’s new boyfriend, Vans, in a group tour for fans of Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Carter meets the rest of the fans among them John Knight, who turned out to join the tour for some vague reason and who was not really a fan. Carter and John were roommates and they clicked really well. I liked their easy-going camaraderie and friendly banter.
Trevor was being an ass and a drama queen. He was probably the most annoying member of the group. I was as exasperated as Carter at the fact that Trevor kept making it sound like Carter was the one who was trying to win him back. Me, I was just relieved Carter had moved on to better things (or in this case, better man) already.
Dame Vanessa Rayburn is a very interesting woman. Killed her boyfriend at 15, served jail time then went on to become a best selling novelist with an OBE to boot. She lives in an old castle in an island. The tour was in her honor and it is said that somebody died on the previous tour and then, somebody actually died on the tour that Carter was in. Nobody noticed anything except Carter who felt the itch to investigate. He was no Poirot but he did figure everything out.
I liked how the author didn’t push the romance too far beyond what is plausible for two people who were together for only a couple of days. It was the mystery that took center stage. I find the mystery within a mystery clever but the big reveal was somehow anti-climactic. Maybe I was expecting it to be more shocking but the suspects were already obvious since they stick out too much. There was one slightly sour note when John was being a killjoy and found the game a bit too much but for me, I think it was a genius idea for a themed tour. I got John’s point about Vanessa and she got what she deserved at the end.The book ended on a hopeful note and we can imagine Carter and John taking another trip across the Scottish Isles. Good riddance to Trevor.
This is my first full-length Josh Lanyon novel. I really liked it. It’s a great mix of romance and mystery. The romance might not be the all out passionate romance that most people seem to like but I really liked Carter and John’s natural chemistry. I think this is the kind of relationship that last. The mystery might not be as mind-boggling as the best ones out there but it has enough twists and turns to keep one from being bored. However with that ending, we need a sequel or an epilogue that would wrap things up in a neat, tidy bow.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Wanted, A Gentleman – K.J. Charles
WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated
the grand romance of
Mr. Martin St. Vincent … a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann … a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love
Act the First:
the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling
Act the Second:
a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)
a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber
In the course of which are presented
Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires
the particulars of which are too numerous to impart.
Eloping couples, damsels in distress, bland heroes, dastardly villains, wild goose chases. Your average penny romance novel tropes except that things are not always what they seem.
Swann runs a business publishing ads from people looking for husbands or wives and moonlights as a writer. He has a scheming mind and I love it that he looks average. St. Vincent is a black merchant with a lot of baggage from the past. He was tasked to pursue his former master’s daughter who ran away with a man a.k.a Troilus. The story itself was not all about the Swann and St. Vincent. It was discovering who was the mystery man who swept away the underage heiress and stopping them before they reach Gretna Green and exchange vows. Swann and St. Vincent’s relationship gradually developed over the course of the chase. In order to bring back the errant damsel to the bosom of her family, they realized they needed a villain more than a hero.
Is it a fun read? Yes! K.J. Charles never lets me down. But I didn’t feel that much invested in the couple. I felt the friendship more than the romance between them. If they didn’t end up together romantically and settled as friends, it would have been entirely OK with me.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love