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The Secret Casebook(s) of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles (includes Remnant with Jordan L. Hawk*)

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Why I read them:  There are three short stories in this series (so far).  The first I bought for $1.99 from Torquere Press. It’s too expensive because it’s less than 15 pages. But the good news is that the other two self-published shorts are free from Smashwords in all the formats.  Taken together, $1.99 is well worth it.  And I think The Caldwell Ghost has possibly my favourite opening paragraph ever.

The Caldwell Ghost

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  When Robert Caldwell inherits a haunted house, he calls on ghost-hunter Simon Feximal to rid him of the supernatural menace. But the ghost is stronger than either man realizes — strong, angry, and desperate for release. Trapped in a haunted house with a dangerously attractive ghost-hunter and a sexually frustrated spirit, can Robert survive the night intact…and will he want to?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  This clever little short has an absolute cracker of an opening paragraph.  We are plunged into the action immediately.  It’s only about 13 pages but in that time, the setting – both the time period and the creepiness and the characters are drawn with a deft hand. It’s not a romance, but rather the pair meet and, while fixing Robert Caldwell’s ghost problem, have a sexy interlude which promises to be more.  We know in fact that they go on to have a very HEA because of the letter to the editor at the beginning.  It’s all very cleverly done.

 

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

WiddershinsWhy I read it:  I picked this one up for 99c after it was featured in the Dear Author Daily Deals post in November last year.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Some things should stay buried.

Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.

So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.

As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  A friend asked me to buddy read this book with her so, as is often the case, I started without reading the blurb or knowing much about the book other than that it was an historical m/m romance.  So, the appearance of dark magic and rituals to bring people back from the dead came as a bit of a shock.  In some ways, the book is in the same vein as The Magpie Lord.  It isn’t the same book. The Magpie Lord is darkly amusing and Widdershins  has a totally different aspect.   It’s set in America – around 1890-something.  Whyborne is a philologist (language specialist) for the Ladysmith museum in Widdershins, New England.  He’s shy and socially awkward. One of the museum trustees, Mr. Rice, has commissioned Griffin Flaherty, a private detective, to look into the murder of his son.  A strange book was posted to Mr. Rice by his son shortly before the murder and there seems likely to be a link.  Griffin asked Whyborne to translate the book and they gradually become friends (and then lovers) and work together to solve the mystery.

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