The Same Breath (The Lamb and the Lion #1) by Gregory Ashe (audiobook) – Narrated by J.F. Harding

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Teancum Leon, who goes by Tean, is a wildlife veterinarian. His life has settled into a holding pattern: He loves his job, he hates first dates, and he only occasionally has to deal with his neighbor Mrs. Wish’s cat-related disasters.

All of that changes, though, when a man appears in his office, asking for help to find his brother. Jem is convinced that something bad has happened to Benny, and he thinks Tean might be able to help. Tean isn’t sure, but he’s willing to try. After all, Jem is charming and sweet and surprisingly vulnerable. Oh. And hot.

Then things get strange: Phone calls with no one on the other end of the line; surveillance footage that shows what might be an abduction; a truck that tries to run Tean and Jem off the road. As Tean and Jem investigate, they realize that Benny might have stumbled onto a conspiracy and that someone is willing to kill to keep the truth from coming out.

But not everything is as it seems, and Tean suspects that Jem has been keeping secrets of his own.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – A

Gregory Ashe’s latest series – The Lamb and the Lion – introduces listeners to another of his wonderfully imperfect but perfect odd-couple pairings in the form of an uptight, existentialist wildlife veterinarian and a damaged freewheeling con-man who, in book one of the series – The Same Breath – team up in order to solve a murder. All the hallmarks of Mr. Ashe’s work are here: complex, flawed principals you can’t help falling in love with (even when you want to bang their heads together!), clever, twisty plots with a heavy dose of gritty realism, sparkling, often laugh-out-loud dialogue, and an intensely powerful connection between the leads that permeates the story. I read the book back in September when it came out, (I chose it as one of my Best of 2020) and have been waiting on tenterhooks for it to come to audio. Having J.F. Harding narrating this series is the icing on the cake; he did an outstanding job with They Told Me I Was Everything and I can tell you right now, that he absolutely nails this one, too.

A vet with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Teancum – Tean – Leon lives a quiet life of work, walks with his dog Scipio and the occasional distress call from his elderly neighbour about her ever growing clowder (yes, really!) of cats. He’s in his mid-thirties, he’s smart and dedicated to his job – but he’s also deeply insecure and struggling to break free from – or learn to live with – the conditioning instilled by his Mormon upbringing, and he’s got a deeply fatalistic outlook that manifests in his tendency to spout random facts and figures (if you want to know the likelihood of bear attacks or the frequency of whale song, he’s your guy!) or ponder the finer points of nihilistic philosophy. He’s a glass-half-empty kinda guy most of the time, but he’s endearing with a dry sense of humour… and he’s dreadfully lonely.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Even Odds (FBI Joint Task Force #3) by Fiona Quinn (audiobook) – Narrated by Steve Marvel

even odds

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Double crossed. Double agents. Doubling down… She’s putting her heart and her life on the line.

Raine Meyers is alive today only because of the heroic efforts of the Delta Force Echo Team. It’s time to pay that debt.

As an undercover defense intelligence officer, Raine tracks a Russian threat to the Delta Force wives left vulnerable while their husbands are downrange protecting the US.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Damian Prescott, former Delta Force operator – also Raine’s former fiance – falls quite literally into the middle of her operation.

Since both the DIA and FBI have their teeth clamped onto the same crime, why not join forces? A plan is hatched to insert the two intelligence officers into the action – under the cover of a fake marriage – painting a target on Raine’s back, enticing the mole out into the open.

Damian wasn’t there when his Delta Force brothers saved Raine from the terrorists in Afghanistan…will he be there for her this time, when she’s in the sniper’s rifle sights?

Rating: Narration – D+; Content – C+/B-

Even Odds is book three in Fiona Quinn’s FBI Joint Task Force series set in her wider World of Iniquus series of interconnected romantic suspense novels. I enjoyed the previous two books – Open Secret and Cold Red, which were narrated by Teddy Hamilton and Troy Duran respectively – and was looking forward to another fast-paced, well-plotted story, but when I sat down to write this review after listening to all ten and a half hours of Even Odds, I realised I had a problem. Steve Marvel’s narration just isn’t up to the standard set by the other two performers, and it was so distracting that I just couldn’t get into the story. I got the bare bones of the plot, but I’ve probably missed some of the detail.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Promise (Lost in New York #2) by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

A promise made:

When Ezra Green sits next to Monroe Friedman in their high school English class, friendship blooms into first love, and even Ezra moving to California won’t keep them apart. Ezra promises Roe that once he finishes college, he’ll come home and the two will be together. In the meantime they’ll write and keep in touch. Nothing has to change.

A promise broken:

After months of unanswered letters, Roe makes one final attempt to contact Ezra with disastrous results. Ezra will never be his and he needs to move on.

Now, more than 20 years later, Ezra has come home. He doesn’t know why Roe stopped writing, but he’s determined to find out. But Roe won’t talk to him and Ezra doesn’t understand why. After all, Roe is the one who cut off contact. Isn’t he?

The promise of what is meant to be:

When Roe’s beloved grandmother suffers a stroke, the past becomes the present, and Ezra comes up with a plan. Pretending to be together to make an old lady happy should be no big deal, but after an unexpected explosive night together, decades-old secrets and lies are exposed, shattering Roe’s control and Ezra’s heart. Is first love only a dream and a promise merely words, or are Ezra and Roe meant to last a lifetime?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Having very much enjoyed Fool for Love, book one in Felice Stevens’ Lost in New York series, I quickly jumped into book two, The Promise, a second-chance romance featuring Monroe Friedman, who runs the support group where Nate and Presley met in book one. We catch up with them briefly, and some of the other secondary characters have featured in other books by this author, but The Promise works perfectly well as a standalone.

Monroe – Roe – and Ezra Green were childhood sweethearts who were separated when Ezra’s parents moved their family from New York City to California when Ezra was seventeen. The guys were very much in love and knew they wanted to spend their lives together, so they promised each other that they would stay in touch, that Ezra would come back to New York after college, and then they’d begin their lives together. Things went okay at first and they exchanged letters regularly, but when, after a few months, Ezra stopped answering Roe’s letters, Roe scraped together the money to call him, only to be told that Ezra wasn’t interested in him anymore and that he’d started seeing other people. Needless to say, Roe was heartbroken at the discovery that the promises that meant so much to him meant nothing to Ezra.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

To Love and to Loathe (Regency Vows #2) by Martha Waters

to love and to loathe

This title may be purchased from Amazon

The only thing they can agree on is that the winner takes all

The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton, and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham, are as infamous for their bickering as for their flirtation.

Shortly before a fortnight-long house party at Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when he appears at her home with an unexpected proposition.

After finding his latest mistress unimpressed with his bedroom skills, Jeremy suggests that they embark on a brief affair. He trusts Diana to critique him honestly, and she’ll use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana has bet Jeremy that he will marry within the year, and she intends to use his proposal to her advantage.

But in this battle, should the real wager be who will lose their heart to the other first?

Rating: B+

To Love and To Loathe is the follow-up to Martha Waters’ 2020 début historical romance, To Have and To Hoax.  AAR’s reviewer was less than impressed with it, citing problems with the premise and immaturity of the leads, and overall, reviews were mixed. With so many other books to review on my plate, I didn’t get around to reading it, so I can’t offer an opinion.  But I wanted to give the author a try, so I picked up this second book in The Regency Vows series, because I am a sucker for that whole Beatrice and Benedick sparring-couple-who-are-desperately-in-love-but-would-deny-it-to-the-death thing.  And I’m glad I did, because To Love and To Loathe is funny, clever and sexy, featuring complex, well-rounded characters and incorporating pertinent observations about the nature of privilege and the unfairness of the patriarchal norms and laws that deprived women of autonomy.

At the age of eighteen, the Honourable Diana Bourne is well aware that most men are fools, but a man doesn’t need to be clever to be possessed of a hefty fortune, which is exactly what she’s looking for.  Since the death of their parents, she and her brother have lived with relatives who have seen her as nothing but a burden and who resent the expense her presence incurs.  So Diana is determined to snare a wealthy husband so she will never have to worry about something as vulgar as money ever again.

The one tiny glitch in her plan is her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Overington, Marquess of Willingham, who while just as much of a fool as every other man, is nonetheless a massively enticing fool who has only to walk into a room to turn the head of every woman in it – and set Diana’s heart beating just a bit faster than she would like.  But no matter how handsome and charming Jeremy is (or how strongly she’s attracted to him), he’s irresponsible,  overly fond of drink and women, and – most importantly – almost broke, so he won’t suit Diana’s purposes at all.

A few years later, Diana is a wealthy widow and Jeremy is still cutting a swathe through the beds of the bored wives and widows of the ton.  Their inability to agree on anything is widely known throughout society, as is the fact they’re engaged in a game of one-upmanship involving a constant barrage of well-aimed barbs and cleverly chosen put-downs.  On one particular evening when Willingham again scoffs at the idea of matrimony, Diana impulsively wagers him that he’ll be married within the year – or she’ll pay him the sum of one hundred pounds.  Of course, Willingham accepts – and only afterwards does Diana realise it was perhaps not the wisest thing she’s ever done, because honestly, she can’t see him marrying in the next twelve months, either.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

A Flighty Fake Boyfriend (Men of St. Nacho’s #2) by Z.A. Maxfield

a flighty fake boyfriend

This title may be purchased from Amazon

All Ryan Winslow needs is a fake date for his ex’s wedding. What happens when a fake date turns into real, but impossible, love?

Ryan Winslow has everything he needs to attend his billionaire aristocrat ex’s wedding. He’s got an out and proud A-list celebrity date, reservations at an exclusive resort in Santa Barbara, and two weeks to enjoy a vacation—his first in six years.

The drive down gives him a chance to visit old friends in tiny St. Nacho’s, but that’s where things start to go wrong. His workaholic, driven lifestyle takes its toll, and his date calls to say he can’t make it. How will he ever find a substitute date for a formal wedding in time?

Epic Alsop waits tables, but that’s not all he does. He pays special attention to people, and responds to their needs accordingly. When he meets an overworked, underfed Ryan, he offers him a healing smoothie and a little extra care. When Ryan’s date for a wedding cancels, Epic offers to be his fake boyfriend.

What Epic doesn’t expect is Ryan’s kindness, or the amazing resort vacation he offers. He doesn’t expect Ryan’s patience, his wit, or his passion.

But they live in different countries, and Ryan’s job leaves no room for a social life. The hunger and weariness that drew Epic to Ryan in the first place is only a symptom of the reason they can’t be together.

Can fake lovers who fall in genuine love find a way to make their relationship work? Or are they destined to be alone forever?

Rating: B+

Don’t be fooled by the cute cover model and the word “flighty” in the title; Z.A. Maxfield’s A Flighty Fake Boyfriend IS a fun fake relationship story, but it has surprising depth, two strongly characterised leads and packs quite the emotional punch in places, too.  Age-gap and fake relationship are two of my favourite tropes so I was looking forward to reading this, and I’m pleased to report I wasn’t the least bit disappointed.

Workaholic Ryan Winslow has stopped off in St. Nacho’s to visit a couple of friends on his way to Santa Barbara, where he’s due to attend his ex’s wedding.  He’s not sure if the invitation was a genuine gesture, a way to gloat or just a mistake, but Ryan accepts because he doesn’t want Luis to think his marriage bothers him, and has arranged for a friend – who happens to be a gorgeous, out-and-proud A-list movie star – to go as his date.  At the last minute, however, his friend  has to cancel, which leaves Ryan with a problem – does he not go and give Luis the satisfaction of thinking he’s sulking, or does he go stag?

We met the sunny-natured Epic in the previous book (A Much Younger Man). He waits tables at the bistro – appropriately named “Bistro” – in St. Nachos, and has the quirky habit of pinning on whatever nametag is uppermost in the box that day – but his name really is Epic.  He’s cute and funny and smart with the sort of self-possession Ryan knows he never had at his age (Epic is twenty-three to Ryan’s thirty-six). When Ryan finds himself suddenly without a date for the wedding, he impulsively asks Epic to accompany him instead.  Epic might not be a famous movie star, but he’s attractive, articulate and compelling – and Ryan is drawn to him like iron filings to magnetic north.

This fake relationship story proceeds as you’d expect – but I liked the way things play out, with Epic gradually coaxing Ryan to unwind as their attraction grows and a deep connection forms between them over fancy dinners, moonlight walks and sight-seeing trips.  Epic turns out to be extremely perceptive and wise beyond his years; he’s brilliant, caring, funny and upbeat, and fiercely protective of Ryan, who at this point in time, badly needs looking after, someone to remind him to eat, quit smoking and to stop working once in a while.  He’s also more than a bit bossy in the bedroom once things get that far 😉

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

A Friend in the Dark (Auden & O’Callaghan Mysteries #1) by Gregory Ashe & C.S. Poe (audiobook) – Narrated by Garrett Kiesel

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Rufus O’Callaghan has eked out a living on the streets of New York City by helping the police put away criminals as a confidential informant. But when Rufus shows up for an arranged meeting and finds his handler dead, his already-uncertain life is thrown into a tailspin. Now someone is trying to kill Rufus too, and he’s determined to find out why.

After leaving the Army under less than desirable circumstances, Sam Auden has drifted from town to town, hitching rides and catching Greyhounds, until he learns that a former Army buddy, now a police detective in New York City, has died by suicide. Sam knows that’s not right, and he immediately sets out to get answers.

As Rufus and Sam work together to learn the truth of their friend’s death, they find themselves entangled in a web of lies, cover-ups, and accelerating danger. And when they witness a suspect killed in cold blood, they realize they’re running out of time.

Rating: Narration – B-; Content – B+

A Friend in the Dark is book one (of four) in a new series of m/m romantic suspense novels co-authored by Gregory Ashe and C.S. Poe, and it’s a strong start, boasting a well-paced and interesting mystery and two quirky, engaging central characters I’m eager to spend more time with. Narrator Garret Kiesel is new-to-me and, it seems, quite new to audiobook narration in general; so far he has narrated a few non-fiction books with this as his sole venture into fiction. I’m always apprehensive when listening to a new narrator, especially one who is narrating a book I’ve enjoyed; thankfully however, Mr. Kiesel acquits himself reasonably well , but there’s a serious production issue that irritated me, especially during the latter half of the audiobook.

Rufus O’Callaghan has, for a number of years, acted as a CI (confidential informant) for Detective Jake Brower of the NYPD, and over that time, they’ve become friends of a sort. Jake looks out for Rufus – the only person in Rufus’ life ever to have done so – and Rufus feels safe with him, which means a lot to someone whose meagre means keep him barely off the streets. Rufus runs errands for Jake at times, and when the book opens, is on his way to meet with him to pick up a package. When Rufus arrives at the specified location though, there’s no sign of Jake, so he carefully makes his way through the abandoned offices – finding Jake’s body slumped in a shower room, a bullet hole in the centre of his forehead. Rufus barely has time to process this before he’s being shot at, too; he manages to escape and quickly makes his way to Jake’s apartment, to see if he can find any clue as to what was in the package he was supposed to pick up. Horrified, filled with grief and sadness at the loss of the only friend he’s ever really had, Rufus decides he owes it to Jake to find out what he can and take it to the NYPD to help find his murderer.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Lady’s Formula for Love (Secret Scientists of London #1) by Elizabeth Everett (audiobook) – Narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

What is a Victorian lady’s formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry – it’s elemental.

Lady Violet is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England’s most brilliant female scientists. Second, she is using her genius on a confidential mission for the Crown. But the biggest secret of all? Her feelings for protection officer Arthur Kneland.

Solitary and reserved, Arthur learned the hard way to put duty first. But the more time he spends in the company of Violet and the eccentric club members, the more his best intentions go up in flames. Literally.

When a shadowy threat infiltrates Violet’s laboratories, endangering her life and her work, scientist and bodyguard will find all their theories put to the test – and learn that the most important discoveries are those of the heart.

Rating: Narration – C+; Content – C

I’ve always loved historical romance, and although I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find historicals to enjoy (so much HR right now features twenty-first century people in costume) I still look out for new authors to try. Elizabeth Everett’s début romance, A Lady’s Formula for Love, was getting quite a bit of advance buzz, narrator Elizabeth Jasicki is experienced in the genre – although I don’t think I’ve listened to her before – so I decided to give this one a go, and… I really wish I could tell you it was great. But I can’t.

The widowed Violet Hughes, Lady Greycliff, is a brilliant chemist and the founder of Athena’s Retreat, ostensibly a social club for ladies, but really a place for them to indulge their passion for science and to undertake research, somewhere they can use their brains and display their intelligence freely without having their ideas belittled by men. But word has leaked out about the true purpose of the club, and Violet has received threats against her and the club that her stepson William, Viscount Greycliff (who is a government agent) suspects originate from a radical, anti-government group. Grey has to be away from London for a few weeks, so he engages Arthur Kneland, a former colleague and experienced protection officer, to act as bodyguard for Violet while he’s away.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Undercover (Vino and Veritas) by Eliot Grayson

undercover grayson

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Gabe wants Alec between the sheets…too bad Alec’s undercover already…

Rich kid. Party boy. Gabe is tired of the labels. He’s a smart guy, but ever since he got kicked out of grad school, people are only interested in his no-limit credit card and his pierced ears…and other places.

Tall, dark and scowling Alec hates Vermont, with its artisanal-freaking-everything and its irritating people. To be fair, most people irritate Alec, including the FBI director who sent him here to investigate a smuggling scheme involving yoga mats. 

When one of the cutest twinks Alec’s ever seen takes an interest, Alec knows there’s an ulterior motive. No one with multi-colored hair, piercings, and an ass like that would want boring, serious Alec. The kid must be up to no good. Either way, Alec can’t blow his cover. If only he could keep his hands off of Gabe long enough to find out what he’s up to…

Can they ignore their explosive chemistry long enough to foil a smuggling ring? Or will their budding relationship sink faster than a yacht full of contraband?

Rating: C+

Undercover is new-to-me author Eliot Grayson’s entry in the Vino and Veritas series set in small town Vermont.  It’s light-hearted, and readable, and it’s got a bit of a romantic suspense vibe going on, but in the end it didn’t quite seem sure what sort of story it wanted to be.  The suspense angle is way too underdeveloped, and the issues one of the characters is dealing with felt too serious for the overall cutesy tone; plus – spoiler alert – if you’re someone for whom deception is a deal-breaker, then you should probably steer clear of this one.

Grumpy FBI Agent Alec Kaminsky has been sent to investigate a drug smuggling ring operating out of a couple of yoga studios in Burlington, Vermont, a small-scale heroin operation his boss believes is getting the drugs across Lake Champlain hidden in yoga mats.

… who the hell could take drug smugglers who used yoga mats for their product seriously?

Alec asks himself.  (And so did I.)

Bored, pissed off and thoroughly disgruntled, Alec spends a bit of time most days hanging out in the bookstore at Vino and Veritas, where he peruses – and scoffs at – books in the true crime section.

Former PhD student Gabe Middleton has noticed Hot Scruffy Leather Jacket Dude leafing through the books in the true crime section and is crushing on him from afar.  But even though Gabe has never had any difficulty getting laid, actually approaching someone and talking to them is a different matter and he can’t quite work up the courage to go and talk to the guy. Instead, Gabe buys him some of the books he’s seen him looking through, and asks the clerk to give them to him the next time he comes in.

When Alec next visits the bookshop and is given the bag of books, he’s confused – and then suspicious.  Why is someone giving him books about El Chapo and Pablo Escobar?  Has Alec been made? Is someone trying to be funny?  Is someone trying to bait him?   Alec has noticed the cute guy with the purple hair and multiple ear piercings checking him out; he’s hot – even though he’s not Alec’s type.  Not at all.  (Yeah, right.) But whoever he is, Alec decides he’s exactly the sort of guy who’d sell heroin out of a yoga studio.   And that maybe he should stick close – to see what he can find out about the drug ring of course, not because he wants to get into his pants.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1) by John Wiltshire (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Ex-SAS soldier Ben Rider falls in love with his enigmatic married boss Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen, but Nikolas is living a lie. A lie so profound that when the shadows are lifted, Ben realises he’s in love with a very dangerous stranger. Ben has to choose between Nikolas and safety, but sometimes danger comes in a very seductive package.

Rating: Narration: A; Content – B

John Wiltshire’s More Heat Than the Sun series is yet another of those that’s been on my radar for AGES and which I haven’t yet got around to reading. It consists of eight books (and I believe a ninth is in progress) featuring the same central couple, and the books follow them through a period of around a decade as they become caught up in all sorts of perilous adventures and other shenanigans while navigating their complicated relationship. Having read the synopses for all the books, it sounds a bit like a British version of the Cut and Run series – the plots are fast-paced and often bonkers, the characters are damaged and complex, the love story is epic and in the end, it’s all going to add up to many hours of supremely enjoyable hokum. That sort of thing is right up my alley, and when you add narration by Gary Furlong into the mix, it’s fair to say that my reaction, when offered this title for review, was “GIMME!!” (Although I was rather more polite than that!)

Former SAS officer Ben Rider now works for the sooper-sekrit Black Ops division of British Intelligence headed up by the enigmatic and urbane Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen, a Danish diplomat who is married to a minor royal. Right off the bat we discover that Ben and Nikolas have been fucking for four years on and off, and at first, this threw me a bit – it was like walking into the middle of a story. But stick with it – I quickly realised that while these two know each other physically, that’s pretty much ALL they know of each other. Love is a Stranger explores the development of the emotional side of their relationship and how it evolves as they come to really know each other.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Quiet House (Black & Blue #2) by Lily Morton

The Quiet House

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Levi Black has mostly recovered from the events of a year ago. The only lingering effects are that he’s much more well known in York than he’d like to be, and he’s a lot more cautious about walking around his house naked. However, those events brought him the capricious and fascinating Blue, so he’s not complaining. On the contrary, he’s happy, in love, and looking forward to Blue finally moving in with him. And if sometimes he wonders what Blue sees in a boring cartoonist, he keeps that to himself.

Blue Billings is finally ready to throw off the memories of his past and move in with the person who means the most in the world to him. His psychic abilities have grown in the last year to his mentor Tom’s consternation, but Blue is determined to look on the bright side. He’s also focused on ignoring all the warning signs that he’s received lately.

However, even deeply buried secrets have a way of rising to the surface. And when a surprise from Blue’s past turns up and draws them away to a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors, Levi and Blue must fight for their survival once again.

Rating: B

Lily Morton’s The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings introduced readers to the eponymous quirky and snarky York-based ghost-tour guide, and Levi Black, a cartoonist from London who, after the death of his mother and a bad break-up, moves to York after inheriting a house near the Minster from a distant relative.  It’s a fun mix of romance and ghost story, with likeable characters, some lovely moments of poignancy and lots of the author’s trademark witty banter, and I – like many of Ms. Morton’s fans – have been eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.  The Quiet House is that book, and once again the author has penned an intriguing story and peopled it with some great characters – some we’ve met before, some who are new – and shown she’s more than able to bring the spooky when called for.

The Quiet House takes place around a year after Blue and Levi were nearly killed ridding Levi’s house of a particularly dangerous and malevolent ghost.  The intervening year has seen a number of changes in their lives – good changes – with Blue working to understand and control his abilities and he and Levi becoming closer and finding their way forward as a couple.  Blue still leads his ghost tour once a week, and when the story begins, Blue notices an old man dressed all in black standing quietly at the back of his tour group. He’s far too solid-looking to be a spirit, and Blue believes he’s just a late arrival – and a stingy one at that, when he disappears without paying the fee.  Not until a day or so later does he learn what he’s seen, when his friend, employer and mentor in all things psychic, crotchety bookshop-owner Tom Pattison, explains that what he saw was a spirit – or more correctly a “crow” – a warning that trouble is on the way.

And it arrives when Levi opens the door one evening to a stranger asking to see Blue – a stranger who looks oddly familiar.  With good reason.  The man is Declan Shaw.  Blue’s absentee father.

Blue has never even met his dad seeing as how he legged it before Blue was born; he recognises him from an old photo his mother kept with her at all times.  Declan’s sudden appearance evokes mixed emotions in Blue – anger for sure, but curiosity, too; maybe Declan can fill in some of the blanks for Blue, tell him some of the things about his mother he longs to know.  But Declan shows no sign of wanting to build anything with his son; he’s there to offer Blue a lucrative job at the home of his eccentric employer, Viscount Ingram, whose massive country house on the Yorkshire Moors is reputed to be the most haunted house in England.  Ingram wants to open the house to the public as a hotel of the macabre – and he needs a psychic to tell him about the spirits he can see, to interact with them and tell him their stories.

Much to Levi’s dismay, Blue is intrigued and seriously considering the proposition.  He’s worried that Declan will hurt Blue, but when Tom reveals the house in question has a terrible reputation and that it’s haunted by some very violent sprits, it seems that there is a great deal more to worry about than Blue’s relationship with his father.  Tom and Levi know Blue is going to need all the help he can get, and together, the three of them make their way to the grand estate, where right from the off, Blue and Tom are affected by the overwhelming sense of evil that permeates the place.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.