The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper


The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, LGBTQ, Erotic Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Lionel and Lucifer are drawn deeper into a murder case, but they are set on solving it together.

Just when Lionel’s love life has gone back to normal — normal meaning the kinky Devil making his ownership known — Lionel’s murder case gets stranger. Lionel’s birth father seems to have his hands in the mystery, and Lionel finds himself in the sights of Eris, goddess of discord.

Lucifer used to be a prime example of a powerful underworld deity with all the knowledge and skill to take care of a lover in the bedroom. But that was before Lucifer fell properly in love and won over his necromantic boyfriend, who also happens to be a demigod. Lionel’s innate magic, magical skill, and stubborn nature make it exceedingly difficult for Lucifer to be the alpha god he wants to be for Lionel.

Lucifer is set on finding a way to provide for the man he loves and to fulfill Lionel’s every desire. But before he can focus entirely on his necromancer, the two of them must solve the case, prevent primordial deities from being raised and destroying the world, and learn to communicate better. It’s what relationships and crime solving are all about.

The devil and a necromancer meet…they fall in love and solve mysteries. What a series.

I did like the show Lucifer, but I rather wondered what it would’ve been like had the lead character been gay. Now, through this series, I get to find out how it would play out. I do like it a lot.

Lucifer and Lionel make a good pair. They’re kind to each other, considerate and complement each other well. Their love story is cute, too. It’s also pretty hot. Can’t knock that.

This is a mystery and I liked that I wasn’t able to figure out the mystery right away. That kept me in my seat needing to know what would happen next. It felt like there were a few loose ends in this book, but it’s also part of a series and I haven’t read all of the others yet. I wasn’t lost, but there did seem to be a bit that wasn’t rectified at the end.

Still, it’s a hot book and great for an afternoon that’s chilly. If you’re looking for a book featuring the devil and a necromancer, filled with love and sweetness, plus a mystery, then this might be the one for you.

A Lovely Paradox by Mahiraj Jadeja


A Lovely Paradox by Mahiraj Jadeja
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When Raj, a common Indian man whose background was traditional and religious falls in love with Bella living in USA through Facebook, being innocent and crazy in love, he went for an American job visa against his parents wishes selling his ancestral land to meet her love and propose her for marriage but there was to lot to prove that whether his love for her was real or was it just plain lust?

This is a quick read novella and would be suitable for readers who enjoy whirlwind romances that are unpredictable. Erotic, highly emotional and sensitive, A Lovely Paradox is a novella which will surprise you, and will make you deeply move with a twist that no one expected in the end!

Facebook brought them together, but will it keep them that way?

I liked that this book has hints of Hindi culture in it. I liked being exposed to that culture and practices. It opened my eyes in a good way. The storyline is cute–they meet on Facebook, and he leaves his homeland to meet her and fall in love with her in person. It’s cute. I liked the characters. Raj and Bella have good chemistry and I did root for them.

But I had some quibbles with the story, too. This read like English wasn’t the author’s first language. There were spots where the story didn’t flow well, and a bit of editing could go a long way. There’s promise in the story, but it reads a bit choppy. This might not bother some readers, but it took away from the overall enjoyment for me. It’s a short story and cute but could use just a bit of help to make it a fantastic story.

If you’re looking for a short romance that’s something a little different, then by all means, give this one a try. It’s got lots of love and promise.

Fool Me Twice by JM Dalgliesh


Fool Me Twice by JM Dalgliesh
Publisher: Hamilton Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool Me Twice, shame on me…

When the body of a high-profile, semi-retired barrister is found brutally murdered at his Norfolk home, DI Tom Janssen and the team must work to uncover who killed him and why.

With a glittering career, spanning several decades representing the privileged and the wealthy, behind him the focus of the investigation inevitably turns toward cases and clients past and present, but was his death linked to his work or is there another, darker and far more sinister motive at play?

No matter how successful, privileged or elevated in society one person can be, one universal rule applies… we all bleed the same…

Set within the mysterious beauty of coastal Norfolk, this fast-paced British detective novel is a dark murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end when the final shocking twist is revealed.

DI Tom Janssen is called out to work a particularly brutal beating and murder of a little-known local barrister. With such a long career behind him and so few strong ties in the community it takes a while for Tom and his team to piece together what might have happened. But when another murder happens things become murkier, and the team can’t even be sure the two cases are linked until things finally begin to unwind.

I’ve been enjoying this series and while this book was a little slower in pace than I usually enjoy I have to admit I like that there was ample time spent with the various characters and allowing them to grow and flourish a little. This is not heavily action-based plot so readers looking for something fast paced or really thrilling might not find this satisfies them. That said I thought the plot was quite well thought out and well linked. I only put a few pieces of the puzzle together before it all started to unfurl in the last quarter of the book and while there were bits I did guess there was still plenty that caught me pleasantly by surprise.

I was especially pleased that Tom’s partner, Alice, and Alice’s young daughter played a strong – but not overwhelming – part in the story and I’m pleased they are both becoming more prominent in the series. I’m also keen to learn a bit more about Eric and his wife and young son – I feel there’s still plenty of growth and exploration that can happen with his character too.

Readers looking for a small-town type of coastal, British based mystery series should find this book really fits the bill. While it’s a little slow in paces the mystery moves well and is plot-heavy which I really enjoyed and even though this is well into the series I feel it can definitely be read as a standalone as the plot is quite independent and not linked to previous books. The team has a strong history, but they are all very well explained in my opinion, and I feel readers picking this up without having read any prior books should still thoroughly enjoy this story.

Courting Christmas by J Hali Steele


Courting Christmas by J Hali Steele
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Tomasina Parks is responsible for making sure her boss’s first holiday event goes off smoothly. Chasing a gate crasher who swipes the party’s money tree is not in her plan. Neither does she expect a guest to follow her home and discover her most guarded secret.

Court Germaine shares DNA with a cunning creature, and it craves freedom as he stands in an apartment lobby eyeing a dog — who turns into a woman. Christmas lights from a miniature tree flash multicolor ribbons on a beautiful, petite body — the body of another genetic anomaly — one smelling like heaven!

Two shifters, one holiday and a lot of heat.

I love the books of J Hali Steele and this one was no exception. It’s funny, the writing flows well and it’s hot. That’s a plus. I wanted a hot, short holiday read and this one ticked all the boxes.

Tomi and Court are both at the same holiday party and not as attendees, but to work. I liked their interactions. I also liked that in this animal world, the women run things. That’s a great change. At least it was for me. I liked how these two had to work out their issues and the way the holiday spirit played into it. Tomi is a good foil for Court and he’s just as good of one for her.

If you’re looking for something hot, short and fun for a holiday read or to heat up a snowy evening, then this is the one for you. Check it out. I recommend it.

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths


The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of what might be a notorious Victorian child murderess and a baby snatcher known as “The Childminder” threatens modern-day Norfolk in this irresistible mystery from Elly Griffiths.

The service of the Outcast Dead is held annually in Norwich, commemorating the bodies in the paupers’ graves. This year’s proceedings hold special interest for forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway, who has just unearthed the notorious Mother Hook, hanged in 1867 at Norwich Castle for killing multiple children. Now Ruth is reluctantly starring in a TV special, working alongside the alluring historian Dr. Frank Barker. Nearby, DCI Harry Nelson is investigating the case of three children found dead in their home when another child is abducted. A kidnapper dubbed the Childminder claims responsibility, but is the Childminder behind the deaths too? The team races to find out—and after a child close to everyone involved disappears, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

During a dig, forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway unearths a Victorian body which she strongly suspects is that of Jemima Green, a woman hung for the murder of five children. DCI Harry Neilson is investigating the recent death of a woman who lost her infant son – the third of her children who has died. During the investigation Ruth is drawn in and once again back to Harry.

I really enjoy the way this author and series merges together the history and archaeology of the British setting but meshes it so skillfully with the modern time and present day. While the two main plotlines are very well kept and fully explored during this book, I can’t help but feel the characters’ lives and interactions will be much better appreciated and have a stronger emotional link if the reader has followed along with at least a few of the previous book. While I do think a reader can pick up this story alone and thoroughly enjoy it a number of the links and threads binding the various characters will have a much deeper connection with some of that history known to the reader.

I was pleased that while the two cases – the historical story of Mother Hook/Jemima Green and the modern case – had a number of similarities and clearly played off each other, the two cases didn’t “just happen” to link up or connect. Sometimes I feel an author might try too hard to have everything dovetail in even if it’s not particularly realistic – I was really pleased that this time while there were obvious similarities they weren’t forced or merged, they were just showing how even though times change – people and circumstances don’t necessarily change much at all. I really enjoyed this.

I was very pleased with the progress and growth of a few characters and while I can see there might be some adjustment and settling needed in the future, I was very pleased with how the longer-term arc of the story between the characters is moving in this book. I feel many readers will be pleased with the movements made here.

A delightful book that blends history, archaeology and modern times very well and with what I feel is exceptional skill, this is a great mystery book.

River Hag by Pelaam


River Hag by Pelaam
Book five in The Devil’s in the Details series
Publisher: Pride Publishing, Totally Entwined
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, LGBTQ
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Sometimes, a friend in need can be deadly in deed.

Keegan has an abusive stepfather, Frank, and is bullied at college. He dodges bullies, led by Owen, by hiding close to the river. He tells his friend about the attacks and his narrow escape. The next day in college, pondweed is found in Owen’s locker, and he blames Keegan. The pondweed is sent to John Bull, and on examination is found to have a paranormal resonance, so he sends Emery, Alex and Kadin to investigate.

When Owen is found drowned in a bathtub, secured with pondweed, the team believe they’re dealing with a grindylow—a river hag. They need to establish whether the creature is acting for its own ends or at someone’s direction. Circumstances point to Keegan, but the team can’t find the connection and feel time is running out.

The next victim is Keegan’s stepfather, and with Keegan missing, Kadin decides to try to communicate with his spirit. He learns that the grindylow is protecting Keegan, but the team know that its nature means that Bo, now Keegan’s lover, will be the next victim.

But first, they need to find Keegan.

A protector that might not be so protecting after all.

I love the books of Pelaam and this was no exception. The story clips along well and got me right into the action. I didn’t feel confused because it’s book 5 and I wasn’t caught up. Instead, it reads as a nice little standalone. It’s creepy in spots, tender and romantic in others and gripping.

Keegan hasn’t had the best time in life. He’s been abused and bullied. His character is someone many can relate to. I liked how the grindylow came into the picture and how it interacted with Keegan. He needed a protector. Enter his friend.

Then there’s Bo, Keegan’s boyfriend. He’s sweet and everything Keegan needs in a lover. I liked him right away. I wanted to see them have a happy ending, too.

I liked the twists and turns in this story and can’t wait to read the others. It’s a complicated story and takes a bit of unraveling to keep it straight, but I had to know what would happen next.

If you’re looking for something that’s off the beaten path, sweet and original, then this is the book for you. Check it out.

Beyond The Point by Damien Boyd


Beyond The Point by Damien Boyd
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

DI Nick Dixon is on the hunt for a vicious serial killer, following a trail of fingerprints and DNA across west Somerset.

When the body of a young woman is found on the building site of a nuclear power station, work grinds to a halt. The body bears all the hallmarks of yet another random murder at the hands of the escaped killer. Then Dixon finds a motive.

Fighting for his place on the Major Investigation Team, he soon uncovers a family’s desperate search for the truth, exposing a web of corruption and death that will shake the billion pound construction project to its very foundations. But who can be trusted when so much money is at stake?

Can Dixon find the killer under intense pressure from the top of government? And can he do it before anyone else has to die?

With a dangerous criminal on the loose there’s no rest for DI Nick Dixon. Despite knowing exactly who they are after, Dixon and his team have had very little success in tracing him this last month. Until the bodies start being uncovered and Dixon finally catches the scent – and he knows his quarry isn’t so far away after all.

I’ve been enjoying this series and while I don’t feel this is one of the author’s strongest books it is a very solid and enjoyable read. The plot is extremely straight forward and while the killer is the same nemesis as the previous book in this series, the author explains everything very well – without those annoying, massive info-dumps – and I feel readers who haven’t read any of the previous installments can still be clear on the plot and enjoy the book.

I do feel that readers looking for a heavily action-based story or something with a deep mystery might not be as pleased with this story as others. The killer is known from the very beginning – though readers wanting a more “who dun it” style of book might start with Dead Lock, the previous book where they do the more traditional mystery solving. But this is more of a police procedural manhunt style of story.

I was impressed though that a lot of the conflict came from within the police force and team themselves – things like the power and political plays between the media and the bureaucracy and the more internal police issues. That was quite a bit of the conflict and tension found in this type of story. I also really appreciated how about halfway in the manhunt started to link around another aspect of the mystery and there was still a puzzle to solve and more traditional mystery case to solve. So that was a really enjoyable aspect to the story as well.

I was pleased both Nick and Jane had a good amount of time together – both working and personal – in this story and I am very happy with how both of their character arcs are coming along. Readers looking for lots of bombs and chase and action might not find this story fits their needs. For a realistic and character driven story with plenty of police procedure and enough questions and tension to push the plot along this was a good story and one I enjoyed.

Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner


Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Discover untold secrets with this extraordinary memoir of drama and tragedy by Anne Glenconner—a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.

Anne Glenconner has been at the center of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed “the greatest disappointment” and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive court life with her sense of humor intact.

A unique witness to landmark moments in royal history, Maid of Honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, Anne’s life has encompassed extraordinary drama and tragedy. In Lady in Waiting, she will share many intimate royal stories from her time as Princess Margaret’s closest confidante as well as her own battle for survival: her broken-off first engagement on the basis of her “mad blood”; her 54-year marriage to the volatile, unfaithful Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who left his fortune to a former servant; the death in adulthood of two of her sons; a third son she nursed back from a six-month coma following a horrific motorcycle accident. Through it all, Anne has carried on, traveling the world with the royal family, including visiting the White House, and developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbor for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities.

With unprecedented insight into the royal family, Lady in Waiting is a witty, candid, dramatic, at times heart-breaking personal story capturing life in a golden cage for a woman with no inheritance.

This lady had one heck of a ride.

I’ve been on a kick, reading books about the royals and those connected to the crown. Not the current big names, but the former ones. The ones I’d not heard or read much about. This is one of those stories.

Some of the books by those connected to the royals can come off a bit stilted or fantastical. Some don’t really show much royal, but more of their lives. This book is a good mix of both. Lady Anne had one heck of a life as Princess Margaret’s Lady in Waiting. I can’t imagine the stress of her job, let along raising five children and being married through it all.

I liked the book. She has a certain resiliency that’s not always evident these days. She really did grin and bear it often. Her children could be walking trainwrecks and her husband had so many faults. Where this was interesting, it was also a bit of a distraction. I can’t imagine how she brushed so much off and looked the other way. Sometimes she came across so strong, but other times…I can’t imagine how she put up with her lot in life or why she thought she should.

There are sneak peeks of her life with the princess, like the trips to Mustique and royal engagements. It wasn’t nearly so much full of tabloid fodder as it was everyday life. I liked that part.

If you’re looking for a book that’s about the royals, but more of a slice of life, then give this one a try.

Pebble by Jane McKay


Pebble by Jane McKay
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The small drone sped away from its dying star.

It did not look back at the doomed orb as it traveled through black space. It had a single mission – find a new viable planet and report. Many years of travel later it saw a possible candidate for its mission. The drone spied the blue-washed planet ahead. Would it find a world for its people or be doomed to a lonely existence on a faraway world?

Read the exciting story of Pebble as it helps to battle for its new family on its new home world, Earth. Can it help protect them from a menace from outer space?

Kindness is essential.

It’s always nice to meet characters who think logically and plan ahead. Some of the dangers they faced could be predicted far in advance, and they did a good job of predicting what might happen and figuring out the best ways to respond if their first few attempts to deflect the antagonists or escape didn’t work out so well. This kind of common sense is a breath of fresh air, especially in the young adult genre.

I had trouble keeping track of the large cast of characters in general. Not only were there a lot of them, their character descriptions and development weren’t always strong enough for me to read a familiar name and immediately know who the narrator was referring to. If only this had been easier to figure out.

With that being said, I enjoyed the many exciting plot twists in this book. There were multiple subplots that wove themselves together in all sorts of attention-grabbing and also surprisingly kind ways. This was especially true when it came to Pebble’s backstory and how its programming tipped the scales into surviving dangerous circumstances over and over again.

Pebble was an adventurous read.

Dead Lock by Damien Boyd


Dead Lock by Damien Boyd
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Early on a cold Somerset morning, ten-year-old Alesha Daniels is reported missing by her father, a violent alcoholic. Her mother, a known drug addict, is found unconscious, but it’s her mother’s boyfriend the police are keen to trace.

As the hunt for Alesha gathers pace, a second local girl is taken, plunging another family into the depths of despair.

Cutting short his holiday, DI Nick Dixon races home to join the Major Investigation Team, but no sooner has he identified a network of local suspects than they begin to show up dead.

At odds with his superiors, Dixon is convinced the child abductions are anything but random, but nobody is prepared for the investigation to lead quite so close to home.

Can Dixon and his team crack the case before all the suspects are silenced? And will he find the missing girls before it’s too late?

When a ten-year-old girl goes missing Jane is called back from her weeklong holiday to help assist with the investigation. DI Nick Dixon understands completely, but he’s happy to remain away and get some climbing done. Only then another ten-year-old girl is kidnapped – and this one is the grand-daughter of a dear friend and colleague – so Nick rushes back to help with the investigation.

I found this to be a really interesting British police procedural style of mystery. I’ve been enjoying this series but was really pleased the story pretty much stands very well on its own. While the friendships and working relationships between Nick, Jane and a number of the close team members all has the weight of their shared history – the plot and story itself stands very well on its own merits and I strongly feel no prior knowledge of any of the books is needed to thoroughly enjoy this story.

While it’s clear from the outset that the two disappearances of the young girls are linked, I felt it an excellent bit of writing the few twists and turns that unfolded as the cases were more thoroughly investigated. I was well past the halfway mark of the book itself before I started to grasp exactly what was going on and even though I was wrong on a few points I felt the author did a good job giving enough insight that the reader could clue in on much of it as Nick and the other detectives pieced everything together. Then watching it all properly unfold was a real pleasure.

Readers of traditional mysteries should find this a well written and solidly plotted story. I have been greatly enjoying these books and am eagerly looking forward to more. Recommended.