Review: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

lawrence_brownRating: 4 stars

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.

A swindler haunted by his past . . .

Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?

Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.

Review: I wasn’t sure that I was going to like this one…for about two pages, and then I loved it. Cat Sebastian’s debut novel was good, but this is much better. The heat between the characters is scorching, the relationship that develops is complex and interesting, and the plot around the romance is well-balanced. I love a bit of intrigue with my romance and this fulfilled that need beautifully.

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Review: An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles

unnatural_viceRating: 5 stars

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

Review: KJ Charles has become one of my go-to authors for historical m/m romance and this one is fantastic. The blend of intrigue and romance are executed beautifully, the atmosphere of fog-bound London is conveyed beautifully, and I couldn’t put this down. I was only a couple of chapters in when I started rooting for Nathaniel and Justine, which is important in a romance! Charles loves to give us relationships where you can’t see, at first, how anything can ever work between them and then she spends the whole book demonstrating why they’re a perfect match. It’s one of the things I love about her book, and this one did it so well. Recommended, although you might want to read the first book in the series. Charles does a good job of providing a quick recap of the relevant events from that book, but you might miss out on some nice details without it.

Links for your weekend reading 18/03/2016

This week’s link collection was a little more extensive than I realised, but now that I’m over the heart attack of looking at the folder, a lot of them are on similar themes. It’s been a bit of a week.

TV and film – still talking about *that* The 100 spoiler and LGBT representation

Variety had a good piece on the ongoing discussion of why so many people were upset about the death of another lesbian character. It goes into the history sets the debate into context for anyone unfamiliar with it, as well as explaining why this death had been the last straw for so many.

Related to that, Autostraddle compiled a list of all the lesbian and bisexual women who have died on screen. At last count, it was 142. For contrast, they also compiled a list of all the lesbian and bisexual women who got some form of happy ending. It’s…ah…a much, much smaller number.

Labels and the M/M community debate

Alexis Hall wrote an interesting and balanced post on the current debate raging in the M/M community around the Gay For You and bisexual erasure. It’s worth a look because it delves into both sides, both arguments, and demonstrates why it’s a debate that has no real solution.

And El of Just Love Romance wrote a beautiful piece on why labels are so important for some people.

Writing

Katherine Locke, a freelance editor, wrote a great piece on common problems she sees with manuscripts she edits, and suggestions on why they’re happening (so that you can fix them before they hit an editor or agent).

Things to consume

Sarah Maclean tweeted 100 romance recommendations and she storified them for our perusal. All the subgenres, all the combinations, and the ones she recommended that I’ve read are amazing so I’m sure the rest are, too. My wishlist grew so much while she was doing this.

There’s a new West Wing podcast starting, going through the series episode by episode, and one of the contributors is Will Bailey. Yup, Joshua Malina will be one of the voices. All the actors in the show were intelligent and politically savvy, so I’m anticipating this with great glee.

Andrea Philips is compiling a spreadsheet of conventions. She’s looking for contributors to help out, because that’s a huge task, and I’m frankly delighted. If you’re interested in going to SFF cons, for any reason, it can be hard to find out what is running, where, and when, in order to plan your schedule. This should help so much.

And finally…

This week I’m sharing a short story by Laurie Penny. Your Orisons May Be Recorded is about angels, demons, and a call centre where prayers are answered. I’m going to thinking about it for a long time.

Wednesday reading, 18 November 2015

Last book finished: I followed up The Magpie Lord with A Case of Possession by KJ Charles. Apparently I’m in an m/m romance binge mood. This was a great follow-up to the first book. Romance doesn’t have to end with the declaration: this is historical fantasy, so there’s a lot to figure out about how the relationship will work even without magic throwing its oar into the works. I love the getting together portion of a romance–that’s pretty much what I’m there for–but an author who can make me love the what-happened-next part part, too, is to held onto and treasured…and I shall now stop before I veer into creepy territory.

Current read: Still working on Russian History: A Very Short Introduction. That may be my status forever. I’m halfway through Rabid and it’s so good. I know, a book about the history of rabies sounds awful, but it’s not! I promise! Okay, it’s mildly disturbing in places, because rabies is a horrible disease, but it’s also fascinating. This isn’t a dry trot through the epidemiology and an overview of the vaccine discovery. It delves deep into the role rabies has played in social history, literary history, and every other aspect of development, before it gets into the modern scientific stuff. I’m loving it, but it’s definitely not bedtime reading. Trust me on that.

My bedtime read this week is Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawke. Yup, another m/m paranormal romance. I was going to read A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles, until I realised that I hadn’t downloaded it onto my Kindle when I was looking for a new read in my lunch break yesterday. Tragedy and woe &c. That’s been rectified (phew!), but I don’t regret my current choice at all. I may be developing another new favourite author.

Next read: OMG SORCERER TO THE CROWN. Nothing will stop me this time. NOTHING.