Last month’s novels were unusual in that some were extremely good, and others (which I will review later) I abandoned. For once, there were no merely good, poor, or dire books and I can really recommend all the following:
A Hope Divided (The Loyal League 2) by Alyssa Cole*****
This was fascinating. It explored aspects of the American Civil War that certainly never reached those of us who were not American. The love story of Marlie and Ewan is set against life in the confederate south. Marlie is the ‘free black’ daughter of an estate owner with an interest in medicine, and Ewan is a Unionist intelligence officer with scruples about his success. Their slow-growing romance highlights all kinds of questions of morality and identity. A really lovely book and extremely well written. The Loyal League books are on the same theme but are not a series so don’t hesitate to read this.
Other Half by Jordan Castillo Price*****
I was always going to love this, because I feel as if Vic and Jacob are old friends by now. They actually get married in this twelfth volume in the series (not counting sundry shorts) but of course they can’t do things in a normal fashion and the wedding is only part of an investigation. I enjoyed getting to know more of Jacob’s family, and it was interesting, too, to see the couple outside their Chicago city comfort zone. Highly recommended for those who enjoy ghosts with their crime stories, but you really need to read the Psycops series in sequence.
Returning Home by A.M. Rose*****
I started this shifter story without any great expectations because I saw from the blurb that it was set in the Omegaverse. However, I was soon drawn into the plot and absolutely loved the main characters, Reed and Jax. I really didn’t want the book to end. It was a standalone, so we got a happy conclusion despite some nail-biting moments. I was interested to see that the ‘author’ is in fact two people, who previously wrote fanfiction together. I think I know who they are and if so, I enjoyed their fanfiction, too.
Billy and the Beast by Eli Easton*****
This was a fabulous retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with a modern setting, some actual crime (apart from the theft of the rose) and an mm romance. Billy and Aaron are fascinating characters and I thoroughly enjoyed their story. Anyone who likes a modern twist on fairy tales would enjoy this.
Love by Chance by Blake Allwood****
This was a fun read, with an mm romance set in the catering industry. Enough research went into that to give the story a really solid background and a lot of interest outside the central love story. The minor characters were well developed which is always a plus for a book that is ‘just’ a love story. A contemporary romance novel with a lot of ‘extra’ to offer.
Magnificent Devices Books 5 and 6 by Shelley Adina. Novellas ****
Another publication I was looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. This steampunk series with strong female main characters and quirky crime is delightful. At the end of volume 6 we got a glimpse of romance for ‘the lady’ whose adventures took up the first four volumes. These two long novellas concentrated on two of her wards and I look forward to volumes 7 and 8 when I finish my self-imposed moratorium on book buying.
A Place of Execution by Val McDermid****
I like this author’s writing, and was intrigued by a story that took place near where I live (The Peak District). It also took place over my own adult lifetime here so felt particularly personal with references to events like the Moors Murders. The final icing on the ‘cake’ was the use of my father’s name for one of the detectives. However, I did not empathise with any of the main characters so found myself less than invested in the final outcome. Still, it’s a clever and fascinating detective story, beautifully written as usual.
The Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd****
The plot was so intriguing I found myself thinking about it whilst doing other things, but I didn’t like the style. Ackroyd jumps from one p.o.v to another, using different techniques for each to tell the tale of a serial killer in Victorian London. Clever, but jarring. The story is not that of Jack the Ripper, but it has echoes of it and the location and society are brought vividly to life. The story is chilling, as the identity of the murderer begins to dawn on the reader, and the whole effect is deftly manipulated and written. It stayed with me for some time and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a ‘different’ crime story, historical or otherwise. For me personally, I would prefer Ackroyd to stick to non-fiction which I think he does superbly.
The daffodils in the header picture are currently flowering in our garden.