Smashwords Read an E book week sale

My Living Fae series (urban fantasy/mm romance/family saga, four volumes) and my Skilled Investigators series (fantasy/crime with an mm subplot, six volumes) are half price on Smashwords this week (7-13 March). That’s $1.49 each for full length novels. The same 50% reduction applies to my twisted legend novellas (Lord of Shalott, and Silkskin and the Forest Dwellers) and collections of sci fi and fantasy short stories (Beating Hearts and Three Legends) which are on sale at $0.99 each. No need for coupons – these will be automatically provided at checkout.

You can read an interview with me (with pre-covid short hair) and see all my books here:

You can also find buylinks for individual books on my buylinks page (see the tabs above the banner).

February viewing

The image is an enlarged version of the social media icon ‘rainbow eye’ by ‘celticfire’


Stonehenge: the lost circle revealed***** BBC2 with Prof Alice Roberts. This is on iPlayer for eleven months and is well worth watching if you’re in UK. A new approach to Stonehenge suggests the source of the inner circle of bluestones in West Wales. Roberts on archaeology is always worth listening to.

Monty Don’s American Gardens***** BBC2.The series is probably available on iPlayer. This was a kind of eye candy with beautiful gardens, but it was also a fascinating tour of the US seen through some of its most famous gardens.

Adrian Dunbar’s Coastal Ireland***** The two programmes were on Channel 5 so will be available on My5. Dunbar makes a good presenter. He is very relaxed, clearly loves his country, and listens carefully to the local experts he interviews. I’m looking forward to the new season of Line of Duty later in March.

Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure: Dementia Choir at Christmas**** On BBC. Last year Vicky took us through a fascinating experiment to see how music affected dementia sufferers, particularly those who were comparatively young. This was a follow up programme and although I cried and loved what happened I was disappointed that we only saw a couple of the original singers. That suggests the rest might have deteriorated beyond interview, but it would have been good to know something about them. Another brilliant presenter whose return to acting in Line of Duty will be welcomed (along with Martin Compston whose work I enjoyed last month in the dram Traces).


Deliver Us***** Danish crime – Scandi very noir on All4. A group of people in a small town wants to rid the community of a psycopath. The series explores the way people can descend into irrational or hateful actions when sufficiently provoked. Fascinating, dark, and gripping.

The Fall*****Irish (Belfast) crime, about as noir as the Scandi stuff. I was impressed by the filming and direction, especially the way scenes were cut so as to mirror the behaviour of the criminal and the police e.g. in bedroom, bathroom, car, etc. I was less impressed by Gillian Anderson as the lead investigator and thought she was badly cast, too glamorous for a UK detective superintendent. I don’t usually like crime stories where I know the identity of the criminal (in this case a serial killer) from near the beginning, but this totally hooked me. All three seasons of it (and yes, three seasons’ worth of one crime) are available on BBC iPlayer.  

Bullets**** Finnish crime (terrorism and intelligence), also on All4. This is, if anything, even darker than the two other series mentioned. It is set in Finland with Finnish actors, but with some characters from Chechen and Russia. There are, for that reason, some sections in English though the bulk of the series needs subtitles. The filming is very dark but then it’s winter in Helsinki. It is also quite gory and at times I had to close my eyes.

Death in Paradise. Series 10.**** A relaxing change from all the Euro-noir! Death in Paradise is cosy mysteries with gentle humour set in glorious Caribbean surroundings. I like the way that although there is a seconded British policeman in charge of the station, Caribbean characters get plenty of opportunity to make their mark, especially as competent police as well as friendly locals. The deaths in question occur near the beginning of each episode and there is the comfort of knowing all will be solved within the hour. This season, there was a two-episode mystery which felt quite strange.


Johnny Cash: Live in concert***** I really enjoyed this. We watched it on Channel 5 but there are similar shows all over the place. I have most of the songs on Spotify and on CD but it was great seeing them sung live.

Last month’s fanfiction reviews

I should say before I begin that other than dragonflower1 whose other work I don’t know, these authors are friends of mine, online and in one case in rl too. But then I met them via fandom and I usually only make friends with people whose work I enjoy!

Anyone who is a fan of SGA might like to look at the secret santa stories from Christmas 2020. You can find the whole collection here: and it contains a story by me (the author reveal was on Christmas Day). I wrote: Not Elves Exactly…

But here are my favourites that might well be accessible to non-fans. You can find them all in the collection.

lock it away (keep my heart at your place) by nagi_schwarz*****

In an accident, John is locked into a coma where he retreats into his dreams. Rodney is able to penetrate those, and gradually gain John’s trust in order to bring him out of the dream and the coma. The dreams are based on the world of Harry Potter, with all the magic implied, plus John’s love of music. Readers only need to know that Rodney is a scientist and John is military leader of the expedition to Atlantis.

A Matter of Trust by dragonflower1**** John/Todd

I felt almost obliged to read this, because I wrote John/Todd for an auction fic. This was much more strongly based on canon than my story, and had an open ending so that the reader could continue the tale themselves. (You can read my story here: Enemy Mine

To access these stories you need to know that the Wraith are predatory enemies of the humans in the Pegasus galaxy and feed on their life force, and that Kolya and his men are human enemies of both Wraith and Atlantis.

Feel the Magic by Brumeier*****

A delightful introduction to a new ‘verse by the author, whose work I like. The SGA characters are recast in a special detective force, MagiCorps, which deals with magical crimes on this world rather than alien events on Atlantis. I’m hoping for more cases.

Not that kind of task force by Brumeier***** (find it via her dashboard)

Because of the MagiCorps story I wandered off to reread this one by the same author. The paranormal investigations here are for H5O, not SGA so the ‘verse has more canon elements, but is just as fascinating and again I want more.

Both these are AUs in that they take place in worlds with magic, not something that occurs in canon.

A deal to be made by pushkin666 *****  

The author was unable to resist a bdsm approach to the Johnson/Van de Leyen standoff. Hilarious (and very short) I think this is a perfectly valid use of real person fiction – not unlike cartoons and satire shows like Spitting Image.

The header picture is my current membership icon for OTW(AO3) which for those of you new to the fanfic world is Organisation for Transformative Works and one of their projects, Archive Of Our Own which hosts fanworks on ‘our own’ servers which means they’re not at risk of deletion. The OTW also campaigns for the legitimacy of fanworks and will defend them in court when necessary and appropriate.

Book giveaway

I’m giving away the first volume in my Living Fae series this week on Smashwords (but not Amazon) in the hope that it will encourage interest in the rest of the series. Just go to the buy link using the tabs above and enter PZ65N at checkout for a free copy. Offer ends 28th February.

It’s the first part of the story of modern fairies who live in Cheshire UK (near where I live). It’s told in diary form by the main character of the series, Harlequin, who grows up on Werneth Low. He then moves to Alderley Edge where he meets his partner Yarrow, leader of the local unicorn troop. Their relationship forms the background to the four volume series. You can find out more about it on this website using the tags. Enjoy!

What I abandoned last month and why

The header picture is an enlarged version of a social media icon by nomnomicons. Sometimes I feel like that puppy – ready to rip pages apart!! It isn’t always a criticism of the book (or film) because other people might well enjoy what I hate. Just as I hate rice pudding and my husband loves it! So for some of you these comments might serve as recommendations!

On television

Willie Nelson and Friends: Outlaws and Angels

Some time ago I dithered about booking for an expensive concert in Manchester featuring Willie Nelson then decided against it because I realised it was entitled Willie Nelson and Friends and I had no idea how great a part the friends would play. I’m so glad I didn’t pay out for something like this! I still love Willie Nelson, but his friends are a very mixed bunch and although some of them are talented and some are to my taste, those two qualities don’t always overlap, and then there are others who are neither. I got tired of watching and listening and felt I could always listen to his albums without being asked to listen politely to his friends as well.

Arctic Murders

This was the series set in Iceland which we thought would be interesting though I had a suspicion it was based on a book I’d tried and abandoned. The detectives themselves were not especially exciting, though one, borrowed from Norway, had some strange family problems. They did, however, get themselves into ridiculous situations. After a while, it gets tiring trying to send some kind of psychic message to a fictional character telling them not to go into a dark house alone etc. My husband continued to watch the series so I kind of saw it out of the corner of my eye while reading a book.

The Investigation

This was another my husband watched but I got carried away with something else on my laptops with my headphones on. It was based on a true story about a Danish journalist who was found murdered and I vaguely remember the case, but the way it was told was so slow I just couldn’t be bothered with it.

Dawn French Live: 30 million minutes

I like Dawn French as a comic actress, for example in The Vicar of Dibley. This was more of an autobiography and I got thoroughly bored very quickly.


A picture perfect holiday by ZA Maxfield

This was told in first person and was, I’m sure, realistic, but since I don’t like listening to too much swearing in real life or reading too much of it on the page I quickly decided the narrator was not someone I wanted to follow. I am not, please understand, particularly prudish. I’m as likely as anyone to swear if provoked. However, although I know there are people who use swear words every other word, I don’t have to listen to them – or read about them. I usually like and recommend this author and was sad when I found this book not to my taste.

Hold Still by Lisa Regan

This was a book borrowed from the Amazon Prime library and I was glad I hadn’t paid for it. I found it slow and confusing and gave up after a couple of chapters. I now have no memory of what it was about except that it involved a boring American detective.

Lunch: a flashfic for Valentine’s Day.

Steve had suggested a day walking in the Peak District and had hoped against hope that Matt would agree. They had parked near Lord’s Seat and wandered upwards, leaving Mam Tor, with its carefully engineered steps, to the tourists. They were tourists here too, of course, but they knew the area well and considered themselves locals even though they lived and worked some miles north on the outskirts of Manchester. There were no hang-gliders or paragliders today; although the sun was glorious the wind was wild and cruel. Matt’s hair danced in the gusts and the grass whispered beneath their feet.

He had offered to bring a picnic. A flurry of shopping in Tesco’s followed by a session in his small kitchen had produced a mini-feast of delicate smoked salmon sandwiches, asparagus spears with a mayonnaise dip, tiny, bite-sized quiches and some chocolate truffles to go with the flask of coffee. There was wine, too, a South African Chardonnay that he knew was good but had chosen mainly for its easy screw top. All luxuries. He knew Matt probably expected ham salad muffins and a couple of cans of beer. The actual contents of his rucksack should help to give a message if he lost his nerve. He had brought plastic wine glasses as well and had made sure that there was plenty of food. Quantity as well as quality would be needed to sustain them. He hoped they would stay all day; that Matt would not leave when he realised what Steve wanted.

They sat at the top, looking out over Edale, listening to the sheep. There were early lambs, calling constantly for their mothers to watch their games. If you knew where to look,the start of the Pennine Way was visible. Maybe another time. He hoped there would be another time.

They were silent, tired from the climb but content. Would the content last when Matt understood what lay behind the invitation? Recently Steve had thought his overtures might be accepted but maybe it was all wishful thinking.

He unpacked the food, concentrating on what he hoped would be a calming task. He was supposed to have psyched himself up for this, but now that the moment had come his nerves were back in full force.

Matt opened the wine, a strange look, almost a query, on his face as he filled the glasses. He sipped slowly, watching Steve lay out the food on the lid of the container he had brought.

Steve opened the pack of asparagus and the mayonaisse. He dipped a pale green spear in the sauce and held it towards Matt with a questioning half-smile.

Matt’s answering smile was broad and seemed to light up the hillside. He accepted the offering and their fingers touched briefly, sending a spark flickering across Steve’s hand. Matt brought the spear to his mouth, still smiling, and licked the creaminess from the tip with slow, careful movements then let the tip of his tongue linger on his lips.

January short stories and other reading

I’ll start with a cartoon book because I’ve used the cartoon I talk about as a header image.

Rattling the Cage****

This is a book of cartoons by Bob Starrett and includes the cartoonist’s explanation of how he came to produce them and the significance of the various cartoons. I’ve had the book since I was working on some anti-racist educational materials and had to ask Bob’s permission to include one of his cartoons. He gave it gladly and it’s still the one that stands out for me. A comedian is shown on a stage saying, “And there was this thick Paddy,” whilst the walls behind him are papered with posters advertising the works of Yeats, Joyce, Wilde, Shaw, etc. I had forgotten, or had perhaps never read (?) the accompanying text – life was very busy at the time – and it was interesting. However, most of the cartoons in the collection were very dated as they related to British politics pre-1990. He is currently drawing cartoons related to the pandemic which are worth researching.

Short stories

The excellent

Ring in the new by Charlie Cochrane. *****

A bittersweet story of a hopeful new year – 1914 – for the Cambridge Fellows, Jonty and Orlando. I enjoyed it, but having read the books that deal with the aftermath of the war, I wanted to cry. Recommended but you’d need to know the series to appreciate it.

The Holiday Collection by Beth Laycock****

Two very pleasant and well written holiday themed novellas: Miracle on Three Kings’ Day, where Lev and Alex meet in Spain (which celebrates Epiphany more than Christmas) and Thrown by Love in which Charlie goes to pottery classes to make a secret santa gift and meets tutor Josh. I read them, appropriately for the first, round about January 6th, and for the second was immediately reminded of The Great Pottery Throwdown which we are watching.

 The poor

Criminal Shorts**

This is the UK Crime Book Club’s anthology in aid of Red Kite, a special school charity. I’m a member of the FB group/club and in any case, did not grudge the price because it all went to charity. However, I didn’t enjoy the book. The standard was mixed, as is the case in most anthologies, but almost all the stories were told from the point of view of the criminal. It’s not something that appeals to me, however good the writing is. I wouldn’t even recommend the collection to anyone who does like that angle – the writing, while mostly competent, was nothing special and none of the stories was memorable apart from one (actually told from a police viewpoint) set in rural Ireland, and that wasn’t sufficient to justify a recommendation.

And other things

Two recipe books which I was given for Christmas.

I expected to be more interested in the Persian one, having been to Persian restaurants, but in fact preferred the Palestinian book.

Palestine on a Plate by Joudie Kalla****

A fascinating account of Palestinian family cooking. I found myself bookmarking a lot of recipes and will be trying some of them this year. There were interesting snippets of information on how things that are popular throughout the Middle East either originated in Palestine or have been subtly altered there.

From a Persian Kitchen by Atoosa Sepehr***

A very beautiful book with gorgeous photographs of ordinary life in modern Iran, taken by the author. The recipes were not as inspiring though I want to try a couple that make liberal use of pomegranates. Too many began: ‘this is not traditional’ or ‘this is how I do it in London’ or ‘my English friends like this’. There were references to Iran but some of those recipes were basically just instructions on how to cook e.g. steak and add a few herbs or spices. There is a recipe for rice that sounds incredible but I won’t be experimenting. It ends up with a crust at the base but doesn’t say how many saucepans you wreck before you achieve perfection.

Lazy cooking in February

Comfort stew with dumplings. Very easy but takes all day.

I usually make this for two of us but you can make it for a bigger family or even for guests, which works well because the last stage is happily cooking while you meet and greet.

I use diced beef (a supermarket pack or maybe whatever you would normally ask for at the butcher’s – I tend to ask for ‘enough for two’ and my butcher reads my mind) but you could substitute lamb, pork, chicken, etc. or just add extra root veg or pulses. I don’t think Quorn pieces (meat free stuff available in UK) would work because it needs much shorter cooking time. You can add sausage such as chorizo, sliced.

I normally use my slow cooker. Before the wonders of modern technology reached my kitchen I used a heavy lidded casserole dish, or sometimes a heavy metal roasting pan with a domed lid. The latter is better because the dimpled dome encourages all the liquid that’s trying to escape as steam to fall back into the pan. A tagine would do the same. Those, obviously, need oven space and can be left to cook on a lowish heat for hours.

Start with a large onion (colour is irrelevant). Chop it fairly finely. If onions make you cry, copy my daughter and buy frozen ready-chopped ones, or copy me and wear glasses. You can brown the onion and whatever meat you’re using in a frying pan for a few minutes and it helps caramelise things, but if you’re in a hurry it isn’t essential. Add garlic at this stage if you like garlic. (I do.). Add more onion for a large family.

Once the onion and meat are in the pan/dish add some peeled and chopped root veg. Carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, ordinary potatoes – they’re all good. You can also add things like butter beans or tinned kidney beans. Green veg are not a good idea because they cook too quickly but a little hardish cabbage is probably OK. Tinned new potatoes are a good addition too. I also add mushrooms – chop big ones or add button ones whole.

Now add liquid. You need to have your pan or dish about a third full and it’s preferable to cover the meat completely though veg don’t mind as much. If you’ve added tinned beans, add the liquid too as part of that third. If you’ve used water, fine, but add a spoonful of marmite/vegemite (or whatever you have in your country) and a splash of wine vinegar. I have been known to use a can of Guinness. Anything will do to reach the level, and the flavours can be varied but bear in mind that too much seasoning too early in slow cooking is not a good idea so add salt and pepper to taste later at the dumpling stage..

I set the slow cooker at high, but the oven, if that’s what I’m using, fairly low. You know your own oven but I wouldn’t recommend going over 160C. Once upon a time I had an oven with a slow cooker setting. Maybe start at about 160C and turn it down later. Now go away and leave it all for at least six hours. The kitchen will, by the way, smell inviting and people will ask when it will be ready.

After six-eight hours (depends what else distracts you) put your stew in an ovenproof dish, or if that’s what you’ve already used, take the lid off. Turn the heat up to 200C. Add seasoning at this stage – maybe some herbs or whatever spices you fancy. I tend to put Italian or Provence herb mix in everything – or mixed fresh herbs in summer – plus perhaps some smoked paprika. Possibly salt but maybe not if you’ve added marmite. Stir very gently.

Add dumplings. You will already have made these at some point during the cooking time. (They keep OK uncooked and covered in the fridge so you can make them while you feel fresh and raring to go in the morning.)

You can use either ordinary or vegetarian suet plus self raising flour (the kind you need for cakes) and some seasoning like salt and herbs. The quantities are roughly twice as much flour as suet so it depends what you’ve got and how hungry you are. Mix with a fork then add cold water a splash at a time and keep mixing till you have a stiff dough. You can mess about and put that on a floured board and divide it up and make beautiful little balls or, like me, you can just divide it in your mixing bowl, using your fork like a knife. (Make an even quantity or risk dumpling wars.) Whichever, place the dumplings gently on top of the stew (you want the tops to stay dry) and return everything to the oven for about 30 minutes or less. Check after 20 minutes because you don’t want the dumplings to burn, you just want them crusty. Use a skewer and if it comes out clean they’re cooked and you’re just trying to achieve a crust.

This is a one pot dish that provides its own gravy. One of the joys of it is that you get glimpses and scents all day but you can go and do other things like reading, writing and social media. If there’s anything left over (depends how hungry people are), transfer it to a clean dish because you need to soak the cooking dish straight away to make it easy to wash either by hand or in a dishwasher. Then you either have tomorrow’s dinner sorted (maybe with more veg) or you can freeze it. (Don’t forget to label it if you freeze it.)

If you absolutely must have green veg, make a salad to have separately but personally I’d rather have fresh fruit for dessert.

Pear and ginger tarte tatin. Quite easy. Takes about an hour altogether.

This is also a comfort dish but I don’t recommend having it the same day as the stew because it’s quite filling. Have it after something lighter, e.g. fish.

Any pears will do, though Conference are especially excellent. You can use fresh ginger (peel it if you feel you must, using a teaspoon and scraping gently, then grate it) or bought ginger paste or whatever you have. I use bought puff pastry but other pastry works too. I only ever go to the bother of making my own shortcrust and could do that for this dish if I had to. Most chefs on TV or in books tell you to buy puff or filo pastry rather than making it. Quantities are basically what you have…

Quarter the pears (at least three but more are good) and remove the core. You can leave the skin on. In fact, you probably should because peeling pears is messy and loses a lot of juice. Now slice them and put the slices in a pan (non stick if you have one) and cover with e.g. apple juice. Don’t go mad – you don’t want too much extra liquid. Add ginger and sugar. Any sugar will do. Simmer till the pears are soft then remove them with a slotted spoon and put them straight into a pan that can go in the oven (I have an old German cast iron casserole pan that is perfect but whatever you’ve got…metal is better than glass/pyrex/pot). Now add more sugar – at least two tablespoons – and boil the sugary gingery liquid hard till it starts to reduce in quantity. Also put the oven on and heat it to about 180C. Meanwhile, you can mess about and make a pattern with the pear slices or you can just read a recipe book. (Guess what I do.) Pour the reduced liquid which is now a kind of liquid ginger caramel, over the pears.

Put a circle of pastry, about half a centimetre thick, on top of the pears and sauce. Put the pan in the oven and check it in 30 minutes. As with the dumplings in my comfort stew, if a skewer comes out clean all is well.

Take the tarte out of the oven and let it cool a little. You want to eat this lukewarm and anyway, it’s easier to turn out when it isn’t too hot.

Run a knife round the tarte just in case any pastry is sticking – if your pan is non-stick like mine, it shouldn’t, but you never know. Find a plate slightly bigger than your pan. Put it over the pan like a lid and turn pan and plate upside down. Shake gently. Remove the pan and you should now have a circle of pastry on the plate with pears and ginger caramel on top. Eat with Greek yoghurt, or cream, or anything else you fancy e.g. ice cream. It will keep a day or two, but the caramel might go like toffee – I like this, but I’m just warning you. For the same reason, you should soak the pan you cooked it in straight away.

January reading

 I’ve read a lot this month – but then that’s often true at this time of year when it’s cold and dark and Christmas etc. is all over.
The illustration is an enlarged version of an icon by magic_art used on my LiveJournal and Dreamwidth journals.

The doubly excellent

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman***** illustrated by Chris Riddell*****

Yes, two lots of five stars. This is a glorious book. The story, which twists and weaves versions of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White into a fresh tale with strongly feminist threads, never fails to delight, as expected at Gaiman’s hands. Then there are the illustrations by Chris Riddell. These are stunning black and white pictures with lots and lots of detail and very restrained but breathtaking gold highlights. Get the printed book (I got the paperback as a Christmas present) – you won’t regret it because although the story is not very long you’ll want to re-read and you’ll want to linger over the pictures.

And the ‘normally’ excellent

A Book of Christmas by William Sansom*****

Sansom unpacks Christmas and relates it to all kinds of other festivals of light, birth, etc. He looks at the way it’s celebrated in many and varied places. Fascinating. Although the book has a focus on Christmas it respects other beliefs and shows how festivals of all kinds develop and how humanity celebrates. It’s out of print but there are second hand copies available at a reasonable price.

A String of Lights by Alexa Milne*****

Lovely and seasonal story featuring Dev, an electrician, who travels south to put up the village lights for Henry who is manager of the local ‘big house’. Or is he? Buy it for next Christmas!

Pretty Pretty Boys by Gregory Ashe*****

The title is the name of a bar in the story. I’m not sure how to categorise this. It’s a cop buddy story, it looks at homophobia both within the police force and in a ‘bible belt’ area, and it’s a nail-biting crime mystery. The UST is almost unbearable and I need the sequel soon (as in when I’m allowing myself to buy books again). Extremely well written with excellent world building and character development. Not many mm romance/mysteries succeed at so many levels. Highly recommended,

Gideon by RJ Scott***** (Boyfriend for hire Bk 3)

The concept of the ‘boyfriend for hire’ business is a delightful background to this story where the owner/manager finally finds love despite his inability to understand or meet his own needs. The series is lovely with endearing characters.

Red Dirt Heart by NR Walker*****

A slow burn romance set in the Australian outback. A ranch owner has to come to terms with the way he has internalised his father’s disapproval and homophobia as he realises he cares for an American agricultural student spending time on the ranch. The Australian landscape is evoked in glorious detail.

There were no four star books this month

The readable

Away with the penguins by Hazel Prior***

This had rave reviews and it was a sufficiently intriguing story to keep me reading to the end but only just. This story of an elderly lady dropping everything to spend time in the Antarctic with a group studying penguins was quirky but not stunning. There’s a unexpected romance too (not the ‘heroine’) and of course the penguins are charming.      

New Hope for the Little Cornish Farmhouse by Nancy Barone***

I got very tired of Nina and her inability to form sensible relationships with family, friends and lovers. I think I have less patience with ‘stupid’ heroines than their male counterparts.

Playing it out straight by Andrew McQuinn***

I can’t remember anything about this book other than the names of the main characters so it can’t have been very good.

Bound by Rhys Ford*** Chinatown Demons Book 1

I found this fantasy cop story disappointing. It started well with good world building and character development but the case was unresolved and the UST remained unresolved. I don’t mind some aspects of a tale being held over to volume two but this seemed altogether unfinished as a novel.  

Shatterproof Bond by Isobel Starling*** Boxed set of 3.

I usually like this author but I am not really a fan of spy stories and this alternated almost unbelievable Bond-style spy story with a lot of explicit sex that did not further either the plot or character development. If you’re a Bond fan and you like very steamy mm romance you’d probably enjoy these and I think there are more to come. Just a warning – the proof reading is not up to this writer’s usual standard. Probably not her fault but still something else that put me off.

Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier by Terry Darlington***

I adored the first two books in the Narrow Dog trilogy. I was disappointed in this final volume. The author alternates autobiography (not desperately interesting) with two canal trips in Britain (instead of France and America). The main problems were that as a result I never really got the sense of place that he brought to the French and American trips, and inevitably we saw less of the whippet, the narrow dog of the title.

And the less than stellar

Undermined by Ripley Hayes** subtitle: A Gay Mystery.

I think this is meant to be the first in a cop buddy series. I won’t be reading any more. The characters were two dimensional and the plot was unsatisfactory with an unbelievable solution to the mystery. The writing was technically competent, I suppose, in that the grammar was fine.

I’ll reach short stories etc. and fanfiction in a later post.