The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles

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The Magpie Lord is the first book in KJ Charles’ A Charm of Magpies series of Victorian-era m/m paranormal fantasy romance novels. I have read and enjoyed many of Charles’ books, so when I saw that I could purchase Kindle editions of the trilogy and pair them with audio for a ridiculously low price, I jumped at the opportunity.

Lucien Vaudrey expected to spend the rest of his life in China. But the deaths of his father and older brother mean that he has inherited an earldom. As if returning to a country he hates is not bad enough, Lucien finds himself plagued with something beyond his control.

Stephen Day is a magical practitioner. His family has a long history of acrimony with Lucien’s, but he still agrees to investigate the matter. He does not, however, expect to find Lucien’s home surrounded by malicious magic. Nor does he expect to be attracted to a man that he is supposed to hate. The plot against Lucien runs deeper than either of them expected, and it will consume them both if Stephen fails to find a way to stop it.

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Kidnapped by the Pirate by Keira Andrews

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Kidnapped by the Pirate was written by Keira Andrews. I found this m/m historical romance novel on Kindle Unlimited.

Nathaniel Bainbridge is sailing from England to the Caribbean, where will reunite with his father, the governor of a small island, and marry the woman his father has chosen for him. Nathaniel is not particularly excited about this, but things take a turn for the worse when their ship is intercepted by a band of pirates who harbor (pardon the pun) a personal grudge against Governor Bainbridge. They kidnap Nathaniel with the intention of holding him for ransom as revenge against the man who wronged him.

The captain, a man named Hawk, insists upon keeping Nathaniel locked in the captain’s quarters to protect him from the crew. At first, Hawk has nothing but contempt for Nathaniel, who he sees as pampered and useless. Likewise, Nathaniel is afraid of Hawk. But slowly, something begins to develop between the two men- despite their age difference, despite their different upbringings, despite everything against them. This is all fine and pleasant, but can they sustain what they have cultivated, especially since the crew expects Hawk to kill Nathaniel if Bainbridge refuses to pay the ransom? Read more

An Unusual Courtship by Katherine Marlowe

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An Unusual Courtship was written by Katherine Marlowe. This is a Regency-era m/m historical romance novel, and I first found out about it because of its availability on Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t want to read my entire review, all you need to know is that I enjoyed this book so much that I purchased my own copy.

Percival Valentine likes his quiet life in the village of Linston, where he works in an informal capacity as estate manager. There’s a more detailed explanation, involving an extinct barony and an inherited house, but needless to say, Percival is a gentleman. When he finds out that Linston Grange has been rented to a trio of young people, he looks forward to the new opportunities for socialization.

Mr. and Miss Bolton are delightful, but it is their friend the enigmatic Mr. Everett who really catches Percival’s eye. There is clearly a spark of mutual attraction, but they skirt around it and never talk about it because of the forbidden nature of such a relationship.

But Mr. Everett has secrets of his own- are they enough to doom the potential for anything more than friendship? Read more

Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Salt Magic, Skin Magic was written by Lee Welch. This is a Victorian-era m/m romance novel with elements of fantasy and magic. I found out about this book in one of my Facebook groups, and it sounded like the perfect book for me.

Lord Thornby had a pleasant life in London, but after being summoned home by his father to their remote estate, he finds that no matter what he does, he is unable to leave. He is physically trapped on the estate with no hope and no one to help him.

John Blake is a trained magician who arrives at the estate as a favor to a friend. Thornby’s young stepmother believes that she is the victim of dark magic and that Thornby is the one cursing her. Blake is prepared to eliminate the threat, but he realizes that while the house most certainly is cursed, Thornby is as much of a victim as his stepmother. Read more

Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

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Us is a contemporary m/m romance novel by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. It’s the second book in their Him/Us duology. I listened to the Audible edition of Him earlier this year, but only recently got around to listening to Us.

The story picks up a couple of months after the events of Him. Jamie and Wes are living together in Toronto- Jamie works as a coach for an elite youth hockey team, and Wes is a rookie for the city’s NHL team. However, they are living as roommates because Wes isn’t ready to be an openly gay professional athlete. Their luxurious apartment is their sanctuary, but that changes when one of Wes’ boisterous teammates moves into the building. He wants to hang out all the time, and it’s becoming harder and harder for Wes and Jamie to keep their relationship a secret. Is this a sustainable plan for them or will it tear them apart? Read more

Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Bloodline is the fifth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I started reading the series this summer, and I try to have large gaps between each book; there is only a finite amount of material, and I want my experience to last as long as possible.

After their adventure in Egypt, Whyborne and Griffin return to Widdershins. Their lives to return to whatever passes until normal until they are faced with a new predicament involving abandoned ships, cryptic notes, a murder, and mysterious cousins from England. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin see the hallmarks of something supernatural, and find themselves racing to save humanity (or at least the city of Widdershins) from an unknown threat. Read more

Social Intercourse by Greg Howard

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Social Intercourse is a YA novel by Greg Howard. I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but the plot intrigued me, and so I made a request through my library network, and the book arrived a couple of days later.

It’s not easy for Beckett Gaines to be a gay teen in South Carolina, but he knows that he only needs to make it through high school and then he can leave his homophobic hometown. His plan is somewhat derailed when his dad starts dating one of football star Jaxon Parker’s moms.

Beck has accepted that his own mother abandoned the family, but he’s not too thrilled about the development because of his contentious history with Jax. Likewise, Jax wants his moms to get back together, so the two boys do what any reasonable teens would do and hatch a plan to break up Beck’s dad and Jax’s mom. What neither of them counted on was developing feelings for each other. Read more

Mages & Mechanisms by Devin Harnois

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Mages & Mechanisms was written by Devin Harnois. This is a m/m romance novel set in a steampunk fantasy world. I picked up this book on Kindle Unlimited after seeing a few recommendations for it on Facebook.

Leander is a gifted craftsman, but business has not been very prosperous lately. He decides to hire a mage to bring his mechanical creations to life, and as soon as Jak arrives at the shop, it’s clear that there’s no one better suited for the job. Jak is quite different from anyone Leander has ever met before, and their odd partnership yields spectacular results. Their creations catch the eye of a wealthy aristocrat who offers a large lifechanging amount of money to build a mechanical dragon. They work so well together, but this would be their most ambitious project to date. And as if that weren’t challenging enough, Leander and Jak are finding it increasingly difficult to deny the attraction building between them. Read more

Band Sinister by KJ Charles

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Band Sinister is a Regency-era m/m romance novel by KJ Charles. I received an ARC of this book, and before I launch into my review, I want to share how excited and grateful I am for the opportunity. For Charles’ last two books, I stumbled upon the submission form for review copies too late. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I was able to submit a request for Band Sinister.

Guy and Amanda Frisby live in bucolic mediocrity, and while they aren’t necessarily happy with their forced seclusion, they endure it because that’s the way things need to be.

As the story begins, Amanda has just written a gothic novel based on their neighbor Sir Philip Rookwood and his friends. Amanda breaks her leg in an accident, and is taken to Rookwood Hall to recover. Guy is obligated to join her in order to maintain a sense of propriety; no decent woman will serve as chaperone because of the rumors surrounding Sir Philip and his friends. They are certainly an eclectic bunch, but they are kind to the Frisbys.

Guy realizes that Rookwood Hall is not the wretched hive of scum and villainy that he was led to believe. There’s clearly a connection between Guy and Philip, but Guy has never allowed himself to even acknowledge such feelings, let alone act upon them. Philip is much more (so much more) experienced, but he’s gentle and patient with Guy, who proves to be equally adept and curious. Guy is so shy that he can’t even say what he wants in English- he reverts to Latin. And if that’s not the sweetest most precious thing in the entire world, I don’t know what is.

In many books, conflict stems from a Big Misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a frank conversation. Conflict in Band Sinister does not fall victim to this pitfall; it’s much more realistic, and it’s heartbreaking to contemplate the weight of obligation versus doing what the heart wants.

I loved everything about Band Sinister. I took two classes about gothic novels in college, so I appreciated the inclusion of a gothic novel as a plot point. I’d like to think that Charles named the Frisbys after the family of mice in the children’s modern classic Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It would be so delightfully perfect.

Speaking of delightfully perfect, I’m grateful for the lessons in some of the salacious lines from Latin literature.

On a more serious note, despite the frequent doses of levity, this book presents some serious points on family bonds, friendship, love, redemption, consent, and trust.

I would absolutely recommend Band Sinister to fans of m/m historical fiction. This is absolutely my favorite KJ Charles book. I received my copy at the end of August, and I’ve read the book at least 3-4 times since then. I plan to buy my own copy of this book, and if an audiobook is produced, I’ll buy that too. I can’t wait to read Charles’ next book, but in the meantime, I will content myself with another readthrough of Band Sinister.

 

The Academy by Quinn Anderson

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The Academy was written by Quinn Anderson. This is a contemporary m/m romance novel. I don’t read a lot of contemporary m/m, but I was intrigued by the premise.

Nick has come to a small suburban Catholic university in search of a fresh start, and he hopes that “The Academy” can offer just that. He plans to focus on his studies so that he can keep the generous scholarship that the school has offered him. His plans do not include attracting attention by being “out” at what he perceives to be a conservative milieu.

Sebastian, however, has other plans. He is drawn to Nick from the moment that he first sees him on campus. Sebastian devises a wager with Theo and Dante, his two best friends: whoever kisses the new kid first will win a cheesy trophy they’ve had since high school. Read more