Review: “The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean” by Tara Lain

TITLE: The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean
AUTHOR: Tara Lain
SERIES: The Middlemark Mysteries
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Kanaxa
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 204 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 31, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Dr. Llewellyn Lewis leads a double life, as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and the more flamboyant Ramon Rondell, infamous writer of sensational historical theories. It’s Ramon who first sets eyes on a gorgeous young man dancing in a club, but Llewellyn who meets teaching assistant Blaise Arthur formally at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford-who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim, even though many have tried and failed. And she’s willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds.
It also means a chance for Llewellyn to get to know Blaise much better.
Not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case-or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work… and one of them is willing to kill to do it.
When Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise…


The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean is the first book in the Middlemark Mysteries series by Tara Lain. I liked it very much. I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but when I do, I like to try to guess who done it, and I have to say that by the end of the book I wasn’t even close to right in my guess. I was even surprised by who Blaise was related to, nope wouldn’t have guessed that at all. And that’s why I liked this book. The writing is just what you would expect from Tara Lain with plenty of details and an easy reading style. There was angst when there needed to be and characters that were complex, and it still had the chemistry that I’ve come to look forward to from the author’s books.

I liked Dr. Llewellyn Lewis and how he leads a double life as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and as the flamboyant Roman Rondell, an infamous writer of sensational historical theories. As Llewellyn, he is a little stuffy, introverted, and reclusive and has an adorable stutter. As his alter ego Ramon Rondell, he’s flamboyant, confident, and an outgoing person who isn’t afraid to go to gay clubs and dance and pick up a one-night stand, and he doesn’t have a stutter when he’s Ramon. I kind of wished that we would have gotten to see just a little bit more of Ramon in the book because he was a fun character.

I liked Blaise Arthur. I liked the chemistry between him and Llewellyn. We first meet him at a gay club that Ramon’s at and Ramon can’t take his eyes off of him. Imagine Llewellyn’s surprise when he later meets him again at the university where he teaches as Llewellyn. Blaise doesn’t know that he’s already met him since Ramon doesn’t look anything like Llewellyn. I liked how Blaise is a teaching assistant and how the author teases us with little tidbits about him that keeps us guessing as we read the book.

When they officially meet at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, a descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim even though many have tried and failed. She’s even willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds. The department head assigns Blaise and Llewellyn to work together to research if they can prove that Anne’s defendant was the real Shakespear, which means Llewellyn will get the chance to know Blaise that much better. But not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work, and one of them’s willing to kill to do it. And when Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe that Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Blyd And Pearce” by Kim Fielding

TITLE: Blyd And Pearce
AUTHOR: Kim Fielding
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Tiferet Design
GENRE: High Fantasy; Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 210 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 24, 2018
PRICE: $ 6.99– e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

Born into poverty and orphaned young, Daveth Blyd had one chance for success when his fighting prowess earned him a place in the Tangye city guard—a place he lost to false accusations of theft. Now he scrapes out a living searching for wayward spouses and missing children. When a nobleman offers him a small fortune to find an entertainer who’s stolen a ring, Daveth takes the case.
While Jory Pearce may or may not be a thief, he certainly can’t be trusted. But, enchanted by Jory’s beauty and haunting voice, Daveth soon finds himself caught in the middle of a conspiracy. As he searches desperately for answers, he realizes that he’s also falling for Jory. The two men face river wraiths, assassins, a necromancer, and a talking head that could be Daveth’s salvation on their quest for the truth. But with everyone’s integrity in question and Death eager to dance, Daveth will need more than sorcery to survive.


Kim Fielding is one of my favorite authors. She has a way with words that is absolutely unique. With her previous writing that I enjoyed it captured my attention from the very beginning. This book didn’t quite get me as enthralled. It started off fine, but then the story started to kind of lag. Her description of the time period and the world around the characters were very detailed, and I didn’t have a hard time following the story even with as much detail as she uses. The characters were quite intriguing even the secondary ones. She definitely does her research and puts an immense amount of time and effort into her stories.

Daveth Blyth is from the impoverished side of town known as the Low Quarter. He was orphaned young but was determined to get out of the Low and make something of himself. Because of his talent as a swordsman, he was able to join the ranks of the royal guard. We soon learn that he was relieved of his duties because he was accused of theft. Instead of facing death, his Captain Myghal Tren has him spared. I’m not sure how I feel about Daveth. He just seems like he’s given up. He doesn’t fight the accusations against him, and he just sort of ghosts through life. As a character, he’s alright. I would have liked to see a little more passion and fire from him instead of so much woe is me.

Jory Pearce was definitely an interesting character. He was mysterious and pretty likable from the beginning. He was born nobility, but somewhere down the line, his parents had disowned him. I felt bad for his character. He does what he has to in order to survive, and sometimes that means doing things he isn’t proud of. I like how he isn’t a pushover and doesn’t just cower when Daveth shows up to interrogate him and fulfill the deal he made to a Lord. Jory is in some trouble as he gets caught up in a crazy spiral of conspiracies.

It all unwinds slowly in the beginning. It took some patience to not just skim through to find out what was really going on and where the book was eventually going. That’s also why I like Kim Fielding. If you can just have a little bit of patience and follow her creative mind through the book, you’ll never be disappointed. I definitely was not disappointed in this book. It just lagged far too much for me. I wanted more from the characters and plot and not so much filler.

I do recommend this book and other work done by Kim Fielding. Brute was absolutely fabulous. A definite must-read.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Neon Darkness” by Skot Harris

TITLE: Neon Darkness
AUTHOR: Skot Harris
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Bazil Yatez
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 202 pages
RELEASE DATE: Jun 11, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 e-book / $12 paperback

BLURB:

In 1994, high school seniors Oliver and Grant defied the odds and fell in love. But after a shocking murder shattered their sleepy small town, Grant disappeared without a trace. Now, ten years later, Oliver attends their class reunion, desperate to see him again. But Oliver soon discovers the past brings more than happy memories… It brings secrets too.


In 1994, Oliver Foster and Grant Carver fell in love. They’re young, full of hope, their lives are waiting for them, but after a horrible crime in their small town, everything changes and Grant leaves.

Ten years later, they met again at their class reunion and behind the scenes of their love story, the truth waits to be discovered.
Neon Darkness is the first book I’ve read from Skot Harris.
I loved this book because it was a great mystery novel.

Oliver is eighteen when he met Grant in 1994. He’s gay and didn’t care about what people thought about him. He has his parent with unconditional love, and Char’s support, his best friend. When he meets Grant, he didn’t expect to fall in love and to be loved back. During his senior year, Oliver discovered love with a big L. I loved Oliver. He’s so young, so sweet so innocent, I melted completely for him.
Grant Carver is the typical bad boy. He had his own car, smoked, fought and he has this James-Dean attitude that didn’t let people in.

Grant is completely in love with Oliver and very protective. For the first time in his life, Grant had found someone who really cared for him. I loved Grant too, and my heart broke for him. He seemed so lost and sad, but in the meantime, he was confident and protective. He had this duality in him that intrigued me the entire book. I loved him, but I also hated him a little.

The plot was very good, and behind the story of the first love of these two kids, an awful murder is committed, and nothing will be the same for them. The story is told from Oliver’s point of view. There’s a lot of references to the 90’s culture; I loved it a lot, it reminded me of my teenage years. But what I loved the most in this book, was the author’s style. His writing was good and fluid. He wanted to take us somewhere through the book. He gave us clues throughout the book, and at the end, we have the big revelation… and what a revelation! I screamed… I literally screamed (ok, it was more a squealing than a scream), just like when I watch an episode of Games of Thrones or The Walking Dead, when I didn’t see things coming. That was totally the case here.

He was brilliant because even if he gave us enough clues to figure it out by ourselves, it’s impossible to really do it … see how twisted it was? FREACKING BRILLANT!
I just wanted to warn you that suicide is involved and it can be a trigger for some of you, so if you’re sensitive to this subject, don’t read this book.

But if, like me, you love a good mystery/murder book with a huge twist that makes you scream (or squeal) in shock, go for it. You’ll love this book as much as I did.

4 OptimuMM’s for The mini-James Dean and his mini-Paul Newman

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Fire and Granite” by Andrew Grey

TITLE: Fire and Granite
AUTHOR: Andrew Grey
SERIES: Carlisle Deputies
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Kanaxa
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 10, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback

BLURB:

A Carlisle Deputies Novel
The heat is growing from the inside, but danger is building on the outside.
Judge Andrew Phillips runs a tight ship in his courtroom. He’s tough, and when he hands down a sentence, he expects to be obeyed. So when a fugitive named Harper escapes and threatens his life, Andrew isn’t keen on twenty-four/seven protection… especially not from Deputy Clay Brown. They have a past, one that could cause problems in their careers.
But with Clay assigned to Andrew and the two of them together every minute, there’s nowhere to hide from their attraction—or from the fact that there’s much more than chemistry blooming between them. As the threat intensifies, Clay knows he’ll do anything it takes to protect the people who are taking their places in his heart: Andrew and his young niece and nephew.


Fire and Granit is the second book in the Carlisle Deputies series by Andrew Grey. The Carlisle Deputies series is a spin-off of the Carlisle Cops series, and we do get some cameos from the Carlisle cops which I enjoyed since I greatly enjoyed reading the Carlisle Cops series and it’s like getting to see old friends again. Fans of the Carlisle Cops series will definitely enjoy reading the Carlisle Deputies series, but you don’t have to read the Carlisle Cops series to read the Carlisle Deputies series.

I enjoyed the author’s easy reading style and the pacing of the book. The book was nicely written and detailed. I also enjoyed the plot even though Judges aren’t my favorite profession. They’re right up there with lawyers. There seem to be some good ones, but most seem to be corrupt or lord their power over you.

I’m glad to say that the Judge in this book is one of the good ones, but that doesn’t mean that he’s a pushover in the courtroom. He has a reputation for being hard but fair which doesn’t make him the most loved by the criminals that he’s sentenced. When one of the criminals that he sentenced escapes and threatens his life, he will be put under twenty-four/seven protection. Which he isn’t keen about but it would be tolerable if it were any deputy except Deputy Clay Brown. They have a past, and neither is happy that they have to work together, but the longer they’re forced to be together, the more they realize that their first impressions of each other might have been wrong or not necessarily wrong but that they are different than their professional personas. Clay realizes that Judge Phillips does have a heart and a softer side that he doesn’t show to everybody. And Judge Phillips realizes the same thing about Clay.

I loved their chemistry and how they have their mother’s terrible cooking in common. I also loved how Andrew ends up being responsible for his niece and nephew after his sister is admitted to the hospital. I also liked the secondary characters and how they’re included in the book for a reason instead of being one-dimensional filler characters. I thought the author did a great job handling the subject of depression and how it affected a single mom with kids and her brother who will be their guardian until she gets better—if she gets better. I also liked that the escaped prisoner is Clay’s cousin. I don’t know if every family has that weird and messed up cousin or uncle but I know that my family does, so I could really relate to that.

Overall, another great book by Andrew Grey and a great addition to the series.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Lies & Deception” by Nic Starr

TITLE: Lies & Deception
AUTHOR: Nic Starr
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Tiferet Design
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

Detective Mitch O’Neill is the ideal man to infiltrate the Soldiers of Fury Motorcycle Club. His ex-boyfriend, Peter, is pledged with the club, which provides Mitch with the perfect cover. Despite the relationship ending badly, he’s come to terms with Peter’s drug addiction and his inability to help. All Mitch wants now is to bring down the Soldiers and the club president, Rocky Cummings, once and for all.
Finn Cummings hates everything the motorcycle club stands for, but he’s unable to escape his brother’s clutches. When Mitch is assigned as Finn’s driver, they spend countless hours together, and the saying proves true—opposites do attract. Finn agonizes over his feelings for Mitch—the last thing he wants is to involve himself further with criminals, not when he wants to leave that world. Mitch tries to come to terms with falling for a member of the outlaw club he’s determined to destroy.
If they can survive the fallout from Rocky’s violence and the investigation, they might discover it’s not a case of opposites attract after all.


As far as mystery and suspense books go, this one was top-notch. Nic Starr did a great job with character and plot development. As soon as I had a question about how the plot could go in a certain direction while still making sense, it inevitably worked out. The beginning didn’t grab my attention at first, and I found myself getting sidetracked. As I continued, however, the book really had me captivated.

Detective Mitch O’Neill was an intriguing character. He finds himself in a bit of a predicament when his ex is a member of a gang he’s been assigned to bring down. With this new development, he decides to take a chance and go undercover to not only infiltrate the gang but also find out what his ex is doing with such a rough crowd. Infiltrating a gang where a member knows you’re a cop could only spell disaster, but luckily his ex, Peter, is smart enough to follow along. Gaining the club president Rocky Cummings trust proves to be a difficult task and he soon finds himself as the chauffeur/bodyguard of Finn Cummings, Rocky’s younger brother.

Finn Cummings wants absolutely nothing to do with the biker gang his family has been a part of for generations. In fact, he’d love nothing more than to see it all crumble apart and he’s determined to help it along. He left for Uni in order to separate himself from his family’s legacy and find his own path in the world. Unfortunately getting his education in accounting has caused his older brother to pull him back into the life he’s so desperate to leave behind. Finn decides that if he’s ever going to have his own life away from his brother’s control, then he needs to do whatever it takes to help bring it all down and it starts with him sending information to the task force Mitch O’Neill is assigned to. As these two come together, unknowingly for the same reasons, sparks fly. But can they trust each other enough to stoke the flames?

I really enjoyed how the story progressed and the slow burn between the MCs. It may have been an instant attraction but it wasn’t instant love, and that was refreshing. The book keeps a pretty fast pace after about the halfway mark, so you’ll definitely want to do a solid read through. This was my first book by this author and definitely not my last.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis