Authors new to me in June

Excellent and highly recommended:

Guardians of the Poor by Jackson Marsh***** Excellent thriller set in Victorian era. There is an mm element but no sex in the story. The writing is good and drags the reader into the world of the workhouse and then the ‘academy’ provided by Viscount Clearwater. I will definitely read others in the Larkspur Mysteries series but might not get the ‘prequel’ Clearwater series because all the backstory detail in this book makes me think the thriller element, which was the main attraction, might be lost.

Deven and the Dragon by Eliot Grayson**** Delightful mashup of various fairy tales and legends. Beauty and the Beast meets George and the Dragon in this mm romance.

Readable:

Powder and Pavlova by Jay Hogan*** Romance set in NZ but could have been anywhere. Pleasant and well written, just not really memorable.

Ghost of Lies by Alice Winters*** Hiro can talk to ghosts and helps Maddox, a detective. Then, of course, romance ensues. Quite nice, though I didn’t enjoy the present tense narration. I might read the sequel.

Embrace the Beast by Mia West*** Readable mm shifter story set in Alaska. I thought things were going to get exciting when there was a high spring tide that washed a house away, but then the story just trundled on. The idea of an otter shifter sleeping in the water is cute. This is Grizzly Rim 3 but I didn’t feel a need to have read the previous novels, or, for that matter, to follow the series.

The Order (Box Set) by Kasia Bacon*** – sort of new in that I read a free short story in her ‘Order Universe’ and was sufficiently intrigued to borrow the box set on KU. I read the first two: The Mutt and The Highlander. At that point I decided they weren’t for me and returned them. The world building and character development are excellent, the writing is good, and the concept (mm romance between army officers in a fantasy setting) is good too. However, for my personal tastes the stories were top heavy with expicit sex and military training. Recommended for those of you who might like that kind of tale. I was sorry I didn’t continue because I know the author is paid per page read in KU, but I was bored.

Disappointing:

Dragon Ever After by Louisa Masters** From the blurb and hype I was expecting something to rival TJ Nichols’ multi-species world but this was mainly just enthusiastic sex scenes interspersed with schoolyard-type banter which really didn’t appeal, especially from beings that were hundreds of years old.

Abandoned – not for me!

In Allegiance by Kate Islay A top commander in a mediaeval fantasy empire is given a captive prince as a slave… I quite enjoy the power dynamics issues explored in slave fics but here I was put off by the way the empire was simply expanding for the sake of it and knew I would dislike all its commanders etc.

Steal the Wind by Jocelynn Drake The main character was prince in a modern empire where he seemed more concerned about his mother the queen controlling him than about her land grabbing tendencies. I couldn’t engage with him or his friends and gave up.

Purple Stain by Nat Lewis Impenetrable. Lots and lots of figures of speech interspersed with teen slang. I think it was going to be an mm romance set in Wales but I gave up before we got that far. Possibly just shows my age, because I know some readers are raving about it.

This Way Out by Tufayel Ahmed The story of Amar, a Bengali Muslim, and his boyfriend Joshua, who is white and non-Muslim, ought to be engrossing. Amar comes out to his family, announcing his marriage plans at the same time. The result is a lot of discussion with both Joshua and the family, in very pedestrian dialogue, with a focus on racism in British society and cultural attitudes on the part of Bengali immigrants. The book has had a lot of hype and the author is a highly regarded journalist. Frankly, I think he should stick to the day job. I got very bored quite quickly. The writing is, as you would expect, competent and grammatical. I assume the hype is due to the author’s status in the media world. I got the book as an Amazon ‘first read’ so it was free and I felt able to abandon it with no qualms.

Fanfiction.

Nothing exciting – this is just to show I haven’t abandoned the genre! Both authors are new to me. I won’t be exploring their other work.

this wheel’s on fire by SidleyParkHermit ** https://archiveofourown.org/works/35911156

Wheel of Time. Not abandoned but only because it was very short. A perfect example of why, for the fic to make any kind of sense, you’d have to have read all the books and seen season 1 of the show. Well written and basically impenetrable. I have read and seen the books and show and couldn’t imagine where the writer thought they were going. If you have also immersed yourself in The Wheel of Time and you fancy reading a Mat Cauthon/Thom Merrilin pairing, it’s only a couple of thousand words.

Arguably Insane by Jaylee ** https://archiveofourown.org/works/496984

Trek – Spock/Kirk told from the pov of an outsider (a crew member) which I dislike because it distances the main characters too much for me. If you don’t dislike that format, then it’s just over 6k words and strictly for readers who are familiar with Trek.

June reviews: books by familiar authors

I apologise for the lateness of June’s reviews. I have been grappling with a new laptop. Microsoft, Chrome, etc. do not play nicely together. I managed Office and OneDrive eventually with the help of the wonderful people at the help desk. Their job would be so much easier if Microsoft used some common sense in the first place. Photoshop is, as yet, a step too far but I might get it transferred by August…

The highly recommended:

The Echo of Bones by Mark Richards***** Another great addition to his Whitby detective series.

The Schoolmaster’s Spy by Ruby Moone**** (Winsford Green series) A lovely story involving mm romance and early nineteenth century secret agents. There were a few delightful cameo appearances from a previous novel in the series.

The Case of the Grey Assassin by Charlie Cochrane**** An intriguing case or cases for the acting duo to solve. Good writing, as ever. I can’t work out why this pair don’t appeal to me as much as the author’s other amateur and professional detectives but they don’t. Also Lock, Stock and Peril**** which is more of a police procedural, with Robin in charge of the case and his husband Adam in the background. The author dealt well with the pandemic and lockdowns, and the whole story was more to my taste. I didn’t guess the solution until Robin did!

Sinders and Ash by Tara Lain**** A nice mm version of Cinderella, cleverly transported to the twenty first century.

The Fever of the World by Phil Rickman**** I have loved the Merrily Watkins series – Merrily (a vicar with doubts) is the diocesan exorcist and finds herself embroiled in cases that seem to point to the paranormal but usually end up with the police making arrests. Her family and friends are delightful. Like others in the Phil Rickman Appreciation group on FB I have been anxious about Phil’s health and looking forward to this long awaited novel in the series. I loved it as a novel. As a mystery it was perhaps a little disappointing and although Merrily’s daughter Jane was very present, other favourite characters made only fleeting appearances. Like Charlie Cochrane, Phil Rickman wasn’t afraid to tackle Covid and lockdown. A fascinating look at Wordsworth’s poems inspired by the Wye Valley, and at Merrily’s problems with the bishop, but not, I think, the author’s best work.

The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison.**** I am in awe of this author’s world building. I loved The Goblin Emperor and the story is set in the same world with its complex languages, ethnicities and religions. The main character, who appeared briefly in the previous book, is a cross between a priest and a detective. He has to solve two possible murders, which are eventually partially linked, as well as facing ghosts and ghouls. He is gay, which never overpowers the story as this is not a romance though there is potential for a sequel. Further reading about the author tells me her other pen name is Sarah Monette. I have heard rave reviews of her works but as the ones that appeal to me are out of print and going for extortionate prices I am unlikely to read them which makes me slightly sad.

The Fireman’s Pole by Sue Brown**** Very readable contemporary mm romance set in an English village. The fires that the fireman has to deal with raise it above mere romance status.

Inheritance by Lissa Kasey**** Gripping paranormal thriller with a side helping of mm romance. Seiran is a powerful male witch and that makes him a target for various groups. However, some explanations might have helped earlier in the story since I found it confusing and hard to get into. Just because Seiran didn’t know was no real reason to keep the reader in the dark.

Readable:

Beautifully Unexpected by Lily Morton*** Quite well written if you cope well with present tense narration. I was bored by the story which has a lawyer and an artist get together. There is a great deal of banter where it is hard to follow just who who is saying what, and there is very little in the way of action other than London sightseeing and sex. Even the dog is less than stellar. If you like basic romance with older protagonists you might enjoy it.

The Crazy Bookshop by E Broom.*** Absolutely delighful story set in a magical Brit town with quirky and memorable characters, but oh dear, the proof reading or lack thereof. Better editing would have gained another star.

Abandoned – not for me!

College Days by Rebecca Cohen I should have known from the title. College romances just don’t appeal to me though she’s a good writer so if they’re to your taste it’s probably worth reading!

I shall probably post about authors new to me in June before next weekend.

What I watched in June

A petunia in my daughter’s garden

Sherwood***** (iplayer) Excellent six part drama about Nottinghamshire miners, back during the strikes and today. Elements of police procedural but so much more. Well written, directed, acted. Highly recommended.

Radioactive*** (iplayer) Poorly directed though well acted and interesting biopic about Marie Curie

I am a Mutoid: a Glastonbury Hero*** Some intriguing art and some strange philosophies – Joe Rush. (BBC 4 so probably on iplayer)

We seem to be watching Stranger Things… but have only just finished season 2

And before June ends, May reading

Our neighbours’ Chilean potato tree in May this year.

Books: A lot of good reads last month, but of course this is from a list of authors I already know and trust! I don’t seem to have read any fanfiction in May that wasn’t so enmeshed in canon as to be impenetrable to general readers.

The absolutely excellent:

Envy and Other Cravings by TJ Nichols***** Third in the series. I’m so impressed with the sci fi/fantasy element – basically, the Hadron Collider caused the world of the ‘mythos’ to collide with ours and somehow they have merged… Edra is a lesser dragon (shifter) and is the mythos liaison officer to the San Francisco police. His colleague and soulmate is Jordan, a human cop. The crimes are fascinating and the solutions are not at all conventional. The romance is well developed with a lot of angst. I am devastated that the fourth volume is still only on pre-order.

The very very good:

Trusting Jack by Ruby Moone**** A lovely story to start a series set in the city where I live. I guessed the crime well before the protagonists were clued in and kept wanting to kick them. Slightly marred by an inability of the author’s spell checker (machine or human) to differentiate all the time between ‘of’ and ‘off’, and I must tell other readers that Denton (where I have worked) is not between Gorton (where my daughter lives) and Longsight… Apart from those nitpicking details, a gripping mm romance and crime story.

Even Stranger by Marilyn Messik**** Another exciting slice of life (and a wedding) for the heroine with paranormal abilities. The mundane police are now involved but Stella can solve things they can’t. And the third in the series Stranger Still****. This was apparently going to be a trilogy but the author has been inundated with requests for more. I shall certainly read them. Stella has an apparently normal childhood in post war London in a small Jewish family. But she can fly and she can hear what people are thinking…

Ghosts Galore by Fiona Glass**** A really fun read. Expanded and altered, based on a short story from ages ago but I didn’t feel cheated (having read the short) – in fact I felt enriched by the addition of details and mm romance. Grandfather’s ghost is delightful.

Romantic Recon by Blake Allwood**** Another in the ‘romantic’ series. Very tense story with lots of situations involving CIA, FBI. Mafia, guns, etc. and a lovely romance at the centre that is constantly put at risk by violence and betrayal. In some respects it’s a sequel to Romantic Renovations and Romantic Rescue and readers should probably read those first, though this could be read as a stand-alone if you don’t worry about some mystifying references to past events. (I had read the others first.)

Centauri Doll by Wendy Rathbone**** Four stars for the standard of writing and the plot which is clever and unusual. The narrator is a vat-grown human on sale as a pleasure slave. The book seems at first to be a typical ‘slave’ fic romance but ends up exploring what it means to be human, and on the way treats the reader to a lot of exquisite world building. There is also a thriller element, which kept me reading. However, for me personally, there was too much sex, sensuality, etc. in a lot of detail and I didn’t completely enjoy it even though these were essential to the story. If you don’t mind (or if you enjoy) frequent mm sex scenes, I would recommend the book.

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain**** Excellent mm romance that addresses a lot of issues with homophobia, religious attitudes, coming out, etc. Good development of minor characters including family and cats, which is always a plus!

The Actor and the Earl by Rebecca Cohen**** Nicely written mm romance between an actor in Shakespeare’s London and an earl. First of the books in the Crofton Hall series and the author tells us it is ten years old this week! Faint echoes of Twelfth Night: Sebastian masquerades as Anthony’s wife in place of his twin, Bronwyn. But other plays (and sonnets) feature in the text as does the newly built Globe.

Shades of Sepia by Anne Barwell**** I was a bit doubtful because this is a vampire novel and I don’t much like vampires (too much mention of blood) but there are werewolves, ghosts and humans, too, and an interesting serial murder case. So I was engrossed and will get the next in the series which features some of the same characters but is by a different author.

And the readable:

Signs of Spring by Rachel Ember*** (Wild Ones Book2) Another fairly gripping story in the series. Again, use of present tense doesn’t endear it to me, and in this volume we were treated to a lot of flashbacks at the beginning. If you’d read Long Winter these were unnecessary and if you hadn’t they weren’t sufficient to explain all the issues. However, I did stay up past bedtime to finish this and will probably read the next in the series provided it’s on KU.

Watched in May

As well as TV I watched my tiny cactus flower! It has more blooms coming.

I’m completely behind… it’s amazing what a knock-on effect a few days without a laptop has! I realised it was probably time I posted this before everything disappears from streaming services.

The Crimson Rivers season 3 **** (All4) I have no idea whether this is still available but every time they bring out a new season they load the first ones again. Great French detective drama with Parisian ‘experts’ sent to help out in the provinces when there are particularly strange murders, often with faintly paranormal overtones though the villains are usually all too human.

Some true crime: Married to a psychopath **** and Married to a Serial Killer ****. (iplayer) Not sure if these stories are exaggerated for dramatic effect but if completely true the innocents who trust the criminals must be hard pressed ever to trust anyone again.

My cat from hell***. We watched a couple of episodes of this (not altogether sure where) since Dogs Behaving Badly has finished for the time being. As with the English programme about dogs, this American cat version makes you realise the problems are usually the owners, not the animals. Amusing, and both series make you think hard about how we treat pets in general.

D I Ray*** (itv hub) Wooden acting and direction, and the plot was very predictable. I wasm however, really pleased to see institutional racism in the police force, and racism born of ignorance elsewhere given prime time TV drama and only hope this paves the way for better attempts to address the issues.

New authors read in May

The last flowering of a ‘Christmas’ chrysanthemum

Late this month. I had a few days with a dead keyboard which really threw all my plans out of sync. Techie son in law tells me I don’t need a new laptop yet. It’s that last word I find ominous. Anyway, here we go with some of May’s reading.

New authors (new to me, anyway).

The excellent – a real ‘find’

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree***** Gorgeous fantasy with a delicate ff romance between an orc and a succubus. The descriptions are fabulous with a focus on smell, touch, taste and hearing rather than sight. Apparently it’s the author’s first novel (he usually does the audio books for other people) and I really really hope there’ll be more. The world with its multi-species characters seems so real and grounded and the story was exciting. There’s the potential for sequels galore, perhaps with these characters and this location as background.

The readable:

The Huntsmen by Tony Forder*** Competent and well written police procedural dealing with investigating a possible paedophile ring. I wasn’t sufficiently intrigued by the detectives or the location to follow the series. I know the author is well thought of by the FB UK Crime Book Club group and I can see why, but I think I need more than mere competence…

Whispers in the Woods by KC Carmine***. Disappointing, especially as it had been recommended after I’d written my Christmas tree-shifter story (see free stuff on my website). The tree shifting was used as a kind of extension of being ‘different’ and the story was an mm romance that looked at issues to do with coming out, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. especially in relation to Eastern Europe where the story was set. The plot wasn’t exciting and the romance was forgettable at best. Nicely written and full of social commentary but that’s about all I can say for it.

Luckless by Cari Z*** If you like lots of battles with monsters, go for it. I worked out the plot long before the ‘hero’ did, and was faintly bored. Especially because I skim explicit fight scenes as well as explicit sex scenes. It didn’t help that I had been reading the TJ Nichols series with much better developed mythological creatures. This author is not really completely new to me as I have come across them as a co-author with other writers. However, I decided to give their individual work a try but won’t bother again. Not bad – just not for me.

Jack: C S Lewis and his times by George Sayer*** It was interesting to read about the background to the Narnia books, and to get a picture of Oxford between the wars, but I couldn’t help wishing the biographer hadn’t been so excited about and invested in Jack’s conversion to Christianity. The final chapters that dealt with his marriage to Joy, an American, painted an almost unrecognisable picture from that in the film Shadowlands and I have to assume Sayer, as a friend of Lewis, gives a more accurate description.

Abandoned: (remember this is a personal choice – if a book is dire, I tend to finish it and say so!)

The Young Man’s Guide To Love And Loyalty by Clara Merrick It might be quite good but after a couple of pages trying to get my head round a steampunk world with a totally different history and a naval battle of epic proportions on behalf of unknown royalty, I gave up. Anyone who likes that kind of story – and I’m sure there are plenty of you out there – might love it. Please note that I abandoned the ‘classic’ Master and Commander series because of the naval battles, too, so it really isn’t a criticism of the writing.

The Harvest: Taken by M A Church Dale is kidnapped by an alien who wants him as his mate. The story line was predictable and not particularly well written or edited. I was quickly bored and gave up. I appreciate that it might not be derivative and that others I have read might well have been written later, but it’s not really a plot that appeals to me in the first place. I should have read the blurb with more care.

April reading by familiar (to me) authors

April flowers: bluebells and forget-me-nots in a neighbour’s garden.

Some excellent reads this month.

Greed and other dangers by TJ Nichols***** Sequel to Lust and other drugs which I reviewed last month. Just as good. Edra and Jordan are a fascinating couple and both the crime investigations and the UST are really gripping, as is the human/mytho world building. There’s at least one more to come! This is dragon shifter mm romance with a difference. I already have the next in the series.

Dearest Milton James by NR Walker***** Malachi goes to work at the Dead Letter Office (renamed The Mail Distribution Centre). His own mm romance is beautifully interwoven with one from fifty years ago that comes to light in some undelivered mail. The team pull together to find the sender. The ending was superb and, like Malachi, I almost cried for happiness. I believe there’s a short sequel.

Cursed: Ride or Die by Eden Winters**** Exciting mm story involving shifters, witches, sorcerers and curses. A sort of modern fairy story with bikers instead of wings and brooms.

And some others that are readable but forgettable:

How to catch a vet by Ana Ashley*** Sweet mm romance but not very interesting though the Great Dane who adopts ducks and kittens is amusing.

Hot Seat by Eli Easton*** Sweet mm romance. I might read the sequel because there’s a background family saga that’s worth following. (A whole family of macho firefighters and strong women.) Well written, as is usual for this author.

Don’t forget that three stars merely indicates a less than intensely good plot.

Nothing poor or abandoned, but then I knew what I would be getting with these writers. Abandoned reads are usually by authors new to me.

Fanfic (only one this month)

Tigger Holmes and the Case of Elsinore’s Ghost by Small_Hobbit**** Wonderful spoof story combining Winnie the Pooh, Hamlet, Sherlock Holmes and slash (not explicit). Only 1480 words so worth trying! https://archiveofourown.org/works/38264944

What I watched in April

Blossom everywhere!

The recommended:

The Green Book ***** Excellent film that explored American racism through the relationship between a musician and his driver. Watched on BBC – no idea if it’s still available.

Dogs Behaving Very Badly***** (My5) It’s usually the owners who are behaving cluelessly but Graham Hall sorts them out. Our weekly comfort viewing.

Ridley Road BBC***** (iplayer) It might have vanished by now but if you get a chance, watch it. The basis is a true story about a (mainly) Jewish fight against Colin Jordan’s fascists, turned into a novel and then a TV series. Apparently there may be a second season.

Official Secrets***** (iPlayer till 14th May) Star studded cast in a dramatised reconstruction of the GCHQ whistle blower case from the Iraq was. I loved the legal scenes.

The 1975 Queen Concert***** We’ll watch/re-watch almost anything with Queen. Possibly BBC

The World’s End***** A re-re-re-watch. I love all the so called ‘Cornetto’ trilogy though I think Hot Fuzz is my favourite. However, this has the unforgettable moments when Martin Freenman’s head explodes (and is empty) and Rosamund Pike acting all ‘ditzy’ before driving through fire like an F1 racer. Pegg and Frost are brilliant, as usual. I think it was on BBC4

The fairly interesting:

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe *** (itv hub)I only watched because husband was watching so it was on. Some people (both the thief and his wife) can be so stupid it hurts. Again, based on a true story and later we watched a long interview with the people involved.

The poor:

The Spy Who Dumped Me** (Film4) Well, it was on, so instead of being driven from the room I half watched it but didn’t like what I saw. Very OTT humour and lots of predictable violence.

And the (for me) unwatchable:

The Canefield Killings Abandoned (All 4). An 8 part South African crime series. Subtitles, in use when characters were speaking Afrikaans or an African language, were too small and too quickly removed to be helpful. I got the gist of the story so far but also got tired of the somewhat pretentious photography.

New (to me) authors discovered in April

Deep pink car parked under pink blossom and surrounded by fallen petals (April 20th).

I usually start the month with TV reviews but as the first day starts on a Sunday, and a friend has a ‘newly discovered booka’ day on his Sunday FB I thought I’d post this today.

Recommended:

Salt in the Wounds by Mark Richards**** Beautifully written novel that also happened to be a crime story set on part of the Yorkshire coast familiar to me. I grabbed the next in the series, The River Runs Deep**** Another really good crime story and I love the way the author brings ‘my’ part of the world to life with a lot of detail. Very slow burn romance between the lead detective and a colleage (mf) adds to the pleasure.

The Flesh of Trees by Kath Middleton**** Modern fairy tale with echoes of Red Riding Hood and a nod to eco-warriors. Well written and quite intriguing.

Relatively Strange by Marilyn Messik**** Stella, living a very ordinary childhood in mid twentieth century London, discovers she has abnormal abilities. She gets involved with a group of similar ‘strange’ people and helps rescue a child from a doctor who is carrying out psi experiments. Alternating angsty and hilarious. An exciting read and I have the sequel lined up.

The readable:

Carillon’s Curse by Sionnach Wintergreen *** Gripping paranormal/historical/mm romance and crime. I thought the ending was rushed and not altogether believable. And the crimes were too gruesome (children murdered in a totally bestial fashion). However, it was well written and held my interest.

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton *** This came highly recommended. Lots of gratuitous violence to children plus growing up in a dysfunctional family among drug dealers in Brisbane then the author’s notes suggest a lot of the story is autobiographical which makes it worse. Interesting and well written but I hated it.

The Wolves are coming by E.Broom *** Quite an exciting introduction to a series about a pack with mixed species. I loved the story but the quality of the proof reading was dire and kept throwing me out of the book.

The Corfe Castle Murders by Rachel McLean*** Reasonably competent police procedural with ff potential but I didn’t like any of the characters – police, victims or criminals – so I didn’t care about the case.

An outline of abnormal psychology edited by Murphy and Bachrach.*** Intriguing collection of articles written just after WWII – some could have been written today and others showed how far our thinking on mental health has changed since then.

The poor:

A history of costume by Carl Köhler** Disappointing. It only covered western Europe from the Greeks to the mid nineteenth century, and there was little or no attempt to relate change to social conditions apart from the French Revolution. Since patterns were given alongside pictures, it might be a useful book for a theatrical costumier. For a general reader it was less than stellar.

And the ones that didn’t appeal to me at all:

Withershynnes by Susanna M Newstead Abandoned. A shifter historical crime story should have appealed but as Mabel could shift into anything she fancied it seemed like a magical solution to crime investigation and didn’t really appeal.

Missy the Werecat by P G Alison. Abandoned. I gather it’s a long series and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered with teenage Missy and her sudden discovery of her shifter nature.

No-one likes humans by Clare Solomon. Abandoned. Detectives in space. Includes humour and possible mm romance. Poor world building, character development etc. Technically competent writing but the story lacks detail and I lost interest.

I did watch quite a lot of TV and will report my findings shortly!

Familiar authors read in March, and some fanfic recs.

If you stick the bulbs in the garden after their Christmas glory indoors, you do actually get flowers eventually!

Books by familiar authors:

The recommended:

Breaking Cover by Kaje Harper**** Sequel to Life Lessons. Plenty of police procedural in the mystery part and plenty of drama in the personal lives. I really like this pair and will be following their story.

Judgement Dave by Si Clarke**** Second in the Starship Teapot series. Just as slightly weird and absolutely wonderful as The Left Hand of Dog. Sci fi with some humour, some gripping angst and a healthy dose of social commentary. The multi-species crew of the Teapot help to rescue two species from a planet threatened by an asteroid. Lots of aliens, alien points of view, and different communication methods.

The Raven Spell by Luanne G Smith**** Excellent ripper-style mystery set in a steampunk alternative London with magic user investigators. I thought this was an author new to me but find she wrote The Vine Witch which I also loved. The Vine Witch was a complete story with little or no possibility of a sequel but The Raven Spell, although it had a satisfactory ending, left lots of room for Edwina and Ian to explore both their abilities and their relationship. I hope to read more; the sequel is due out in October. And meanwhile, I’ve found a sort of sequel to The Vine Witch on KU!

Darkest by Paul L Arvidson **** Exciting sequel to Dark and Darker but I do think the blurb could have had less focus on the arrival of the marines on the Dark planet. (They arrive on the last page.) I am definitely going to read the next book in the series. The inhabitants of the Dark planet with their civil wars are intriguing, and the people from earth travelling towards them are well developed characters with a wonderful alien and sentient spaceship.

People like us by Ruby Moone**** Beautifully written historical romance in the Crofton Hall series – the blacksmith and the valet.

The readable:

Trapped by Ruby Moone***This is a lovely and exciting story set in Regency England with rescues of young men, women and children from an evil brothel. Sadly, for me, it was thoroughly spoilt by very slapdash proof reading which gave so many errors I got tired of reading. If you can cope with a lot of typos, you’d enjoy the tale and the mm romance.

Poles Apart by Alex J Adams*** Competent sequel to Dance With Me but there was too much explicit sex and too little real drama for my tastes. It’s a companion volume rather than a sequel because it covers the romance of two minor characters during the same time period.

The Less than Spectacular Times of Henry Milch by Marshall Thornton*** A ‘cosy’ small town mystery with a gay protagonist and a gay victim. I didn’t care for any of the characters so found it hard to care about outcomes.

The Wishing Tree by RJ Scott *** Sweet Christmas story. Nicely written but merely sweet!

Bigger than us by Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga***. Over-sweet story about two guys who end up joint guardians to two kids and get married. Too much over-cute kid stuff and too much sex. Also, why do these authors head hop without warning???

The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet*** I loved Charlie’s Thirds series but this was a very ordinary soulmate mark story which wasn’t particularly improved by being set between our world and another. I won’t bother with the sequel.

Fanfiction

More from ‘From the pen of Inky Quill’ by okapi **** – a porcupine writes in the Sherlock Holmes universe… This was chapter 72 and it’s worth following – I subscribe and new chapters appear occasionally in my inbox which always improves my day. https://archiveofourown.org/works/6848800/chapters/93756946

Fanfic writers new to me:

Without Breaking Anything by Shinybug**** Teen Wolf. Short but interesting first time Stiles/Derek. Explicit sex that was actually a pleasure to read. Recommended but you probably need some familiarity with the canon. https://archiveofourown.org/works/26222557

Milk Run by escriveine*** SGA (au) John is Rodney’s new milkman. Sweet but unmemorable

Milk Run – escriveine – Stargate Atlantis [Archive of Our Own]

My Words to Catch (like I’m trying) by secondstar*** Teen Wolf. A sex pollen story. Not terribly well written or memorable. My Words to Catch (like I’m trying) – secondstar – Teen Wolf (TV) [Archive of Our Own]

And I am mystified as to why the URLs for AO3 works are behaving oddly.