Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Series Spotlight: The Gaslight Mysteries by Erin O'Quinn

Heart to Hart #1
Michael McCree is one with a mysterious past, who ends up as a newspaper man, thereby meeting the strikingly handsome Simon Hart, who comes to his shop to turn in an obituary notice.

Simon’s flat-mate and former business partner has been killed, and Simon, a private investigator, needs to track down the murderer. Michael, immediately smitten with the sulky and sexy man, lays a plan to first become his new roomer, then his business partner.

But Simon, stricken by his recent loss, is having none of Michael’s undisguised interest.

Not a man to be deterred easily from a goal, Michael sets about winning Simon’s affection. That particular battle is almost as difficult as tracking down the murderer of his predecessor, a nosy detective who was getting too close to the crimes of an evil person.

Simon spends more time ducking Michael’s advances than actually finding clues and solving the mystery. Inquiring minds want to know—how hard is Simon really trying to avoid Michael? And Michael isn’t hiding his forthright urges, but what secret is he hiding?

Sparring with Shadows #2
Simon Hart, private investigator, has always thought of himself as a regular fellow. He’s standoffish and a loner with a sullen attitude—yet surely a normal bloke. And then he meets the randy Michael McCree.

In short order, Michael has become his flat-mate, his business partner, and his wannabe lover. Now Simon must look deeper, into his own hidden desires, if he wants to survive.

There’s something about Michael’s secret vocation that invites trouble. Simon finds himself sparring with shadows: in the hidden bedrooms of a roaring twenties version of a gay a chained wall decoration in the flat of a thief and sexual deviant...and as the quarry in a deadly confrontation in an exhibitionist’s bed and then in a sewer tunnel beneath the streets of a 1923 city somewhere in Ireland.

Above all, Simon is sparring with the shadow of his own secret urges. Michael will not allow him to turn away from a kind of private investigation of which he has not even dreamed. Until now.

Follow a fastidious, surly investigator and his horny yet secretive partner through the very cracks in a city of gaslights and vintage motorcars, into a hidden homosexual culture, as the men find themselves sparring with shadows...

To the Bone #3
The time is 1923, and the place is a fantasy city in Ireland. Two unlikely men have formed a partnership: good-natured Michael, who keeps a serious secret, and sulky Simon, who has plenty of reasons to be angry at the world. Michael has stalked the standoffish Simon from the beginning, and Simon has consistently rebuffed him...yet not enough for Michael to give up a dedicated pursuit of the handsome investigator.

As private eyes, the men have a case to solve: to find more than a score of stolen paintings, and especially one small valuable work of art worth more than all the others. But the case grows more complex the deeper they look into it. Soon Michael and Simon find themselves searching not just for a thief, but for a city-wide ring of criminals. And the closer they get to the paintings, the closer they find themselves to a killer.

Into this mix steps a man named Moshe—a pesky, secretive, nosy man who is nevertheless a brilliant investigator himself. He gives both the men fits, burrowing like a tick into their very private affairs, so close they have a hard time evading him.

Can the investigators solve a series of crimes, take care of the interfering Moshe, and drive their own intense relationship all the way to the bone?

I read all three books and since the time frame from page 1 of Heart to Hart to the last page of To the Bone only covers about two to three weeks, I'm going to do an overall review for these entries.  I won't lie, the beginning was a bit tricky to get into with the Irish slang of the time but I was able to become comfortable with it after only a chapter or so.  As I write this I am thinking that it had more to do with me not letting go of the previous book before starting this series and less of the slang language, but whatever the reason, after that first chapter I was hooked.  Simon and Michael grabbed my heart and didn't let go.  I loved the humorous banter between the new found partners.  I found them to be very enjoyable and likeable despite their moments of infuriating debates.  At times, they reminded me very much of the banter and bickering of Bogey and Bacall in The Big Sleep.  The mysteries are quite intriguing and definitely hold the reader's interest as does the humor and the obvious attraction between the pair.  Michael McCree and Simon Hart are a captivating pair that I look forward to read many times over.


Thin as Smoke #4
In 1924, the PI team of Michael McCree and Simon Hart are on the trail of missing motors—a mundane case that turns deadly when they discover the link between their case and that of Samuel Dashiell Hammett.

The writer of hard-boiled crime is scratching to earn a living, and his work as an undercover Pinkerton operative lands him on the shore of the Irish Sea, in the city of Dun Linden. In one of a series of coincidences, Hammett finds himself paired with his old friend Michael, a man he knew in the U.S. before he left for the World War.

“Sam,” as he’s known to Michael, unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that separate the two partners and sometime-lovers. Working on his own, Simon finds himself on both ends of a Smith & Wesson revolver. Meanwhile, Sam and Michael discover that the perilous connection between motors and Mafia bootleggers also means a shattering of former alliances...because Michael and his old friend share a secret, one that threatens to end both his career and his complex relationship with Simon.

Simon and Michael are spectacular once again.  I love the fact that this installment is centered around their one year "anniversary".  We get to see how each of them see that fateful day and when you throw in their new case and the addition of Michael's old colleague, you have yourself a perfect addition to the Gaslight Mysteries.

Speaking of Michael's old colleague, Sam Hammett, it's a special treat for me.  Not only does Sam bring a new element to the story, an inkling of Michael's history and Simon dealing with the jealousy that Sam's arrival has brought out, but for me it adds a bit of fangirl moments.  Sam Hammett, or as most people know him, Dashiell Hammett, is the creator of my most favorite mystery solving couple, Nick and Nora Charles and The Thin Man.  Neither The Thin Man nor Hammett's writing skills have any bearing on this story but just the addition of his character into the mix had me giddy going in and once I finished Thin as Smoke, I was just as giddy.  Miss O'Quinn weaves Hammett into the world that Simon and Michael live in with creativity and nearly as much charm as Michael used to originally worm his way into Simon's life back in Heart to Hart.

Now for the mystery itself.  Perfect for the duo, or should I say trio in this case.  I don't think that the case is as big a part of this story as the cases in the first three of the series.  However, I do think that how the characters deal with the case and each other is more at the center of Thin as Smoke, which is still part of the mystery so perhaps it's just from a different angle.  However you look at the ins and outs of the case, this is a great addition the series and a must read, especially if you like historical settings.


Heart to Hart #1
     ...Michael followed Simon through the sitting room to a door opposite his own bedchamber. He’d seen Simon’s athletic trousers lying on the bedroom carpet, but not the jock strap. He knew beneath the shimmering robe there lay the chance of a lifetime. An athlete’s groin, encased in a bit of cotton, the ass-end open to meet his maddened cock.
     Michael took a deep breath and followed Simon across the threshold of the second bedchamber. It was the same size as the other, and the bed was the same heavy mahogany, canopied, yet without the frills one might expect in such Victorian excess.
     He saw right away that the headboard, unlike the one on Simon’s bed, was a series of dowels, stout, carved and deeply burnished. He hardened at the thought of Simon’s wrists tied to those same dowels with his own silken neck scarves. He saw an image of the man twisting and scowling, pretending to seek his freedom. Yes, this bed would suit him fine.
     Simon stood erect at the door, his eyes already seeking the exit. Michael, close to him, turned and grazed his groin with his own trousers. “All mine, lad?”
     “Yes.” Simon’s voice sounded as though he were suffocating.
     Michael refused to take pity. He reached one finger across to Simon’s swollen jaw. “Better?” He drew his thumb from near the curled, angry mouth all the way to his throat.
     Simon jerked his head away, avoiding his eyes.
     “D’ye want to know what I found out about ye, lad?” He did not wait for Simon to answer. His thumb continued from his throat to the V of his dressing gown. He slid it inside, touching cool flesh that nevertheless burned his skin. “Ye’re hard, lad. Yet soft as the silk of this robe. Ye’re a man, yet a young boy just finding what’s in his pocket.”
     Ah, God, Simon’s head was bowed. He was listening.
     “Please. Come lie wi’ me a while. I’ve a need to be next to ye.”
     When Simon’s dark, lustrous hair touched his chest, Michael almost exploded. He put his finger under the man’s chin and raised his mouth to meet his. Simon’s surly, sulky lips were aching to be bitten, silenced into submission.
     He began by putting his entire mouth over Simon’s, loving the way the other man gnashed his teeth and twisted his lips, fighting to free himself. He drew on it, long and deep, biting down until Simon’s tongue intervened. He seized the tongue, suckling it like a teat, like a soft cock.
     They kissed for long moments, while Michael drew Simon’s body close to his groin. When Simon’s tongue grazed his own, Michael groaned into his mouth. “Yes, lad, yes. Come lie wi’ me a while.”
     Simon broke free. He turned to the door, not looking at Michael at all. He spoke to the sitting room beyond.
     “I rise early. You will find an extra flat key under the wingback seat cushion. Good night.”
     He fled, while Michael stood cursing his own adamant need.
     A heartbeat later, he was following Simon across the plush carpet. He caught him in the middle of the floor and brought him down from behind—hard—laying all his superior weight into Simon’s back and wedging one massive calf between his knees. Simon fought back, jamming his shoulder and elbow into his solar plexus. Michael, laughing, caught his arm and twisted it behind, knowing he had the advantage of surprise and of the other man’s sudden passion.
     He twisted the man around to face him. Simon, trying not to breathe hard, lay in front of him, his eyes a molten metal, his robe open. Michael looked down at the jock strap, filled to bursting with Simon’s own insistent erection.
     “God, Simon, I want ye.” With both hands he pulled the scrap of cloth down, letting it catch on the bulb of his cock, then sliding it past his balls. He left it somewhere around his calves, a reminder of the man’s athletic promise.
     Here on the luxuriant carpet lay the lover he had wanted his entire life. He was tall, muscular, full of storm and fight. His cock lifted like a cudgel, a warning. His knees were up, his balls tight, hiding the sweetest part of the pie. Michael licked his lips and descended on Simon...

Sparring with Shadows #2
     ...Simon felt happy. A fleeting sense of well-being, of some satisfying dream just resolved, caused him to waken slowly instead of experiencing his usual jolt into reality. He was warm. In fact, an unusual kind of heat had invaded the entire area of his groin. Instead of fighting it, he sank into it, allowing his penis to sit rigidly in a place of refuge. He pushed closer to the source of emanating warmth. And then it moved.
     His haven, his harbor, seized the entire length of his flesh with a gentle squeeze, and he moaned, spurring it deeper, willing the dream to continue.
     At some level, he realized he’d entered Michael, whether by his own urgent need or by his bedmate’s polished maneuvering. Other than his inner muscle’s sudden seizure, the man was not moving at all, letting Simon push into his anus and groan into his broad back.
     For once in his life, Simon let his needing flesh dictate his actions. The sensation of being inside another human being had thickened him, made him harder and longer than he’d ever been. The hot walls of his lover’s rectum seemed to swell and subside, collapse and widen as he thrust himself to the very root of his testicles. And then he withdrew a few inches, only to slam himself into those walls again, plunging and battering.
     Now Michael’s buttocks had begun to move in waves and swells, letting Simon ride him, urge him, run him while he cried out a name in his approaching release. The moment of climax left him shuddering in joy and disbelief, biting into the man’s back, drawing blood.
     Not once had Michael uttered a word. It was as though he had slept through Simon’s own dream and now was returning to deep slumber. Grateful, Simon lay with his arms around the big man’s chest, his penis still inside the hot buttocks, listening to his own heart crash against his ribs.
     Before he withdrew and rolled to the far side, Simon let his lips move against Michael’s naked shoulders. It was a silent appreciation, lasting only a few seconds, and then he escaped the large mahogany bed.
     His jock strap was halfway down his shins, and his kaffies were nowhere to be seen. He let the underwear drop to the carpet. Seizing his robe from the leather chair, he shrugged it on and reached into his linen chest. Towel in hand, he left without looking back, closing the door softly behind him.
     Almost running down the thinly carpeted hallway on this way to the tenants’ bathing room, Simon almost wished he’d looked back. Would Michael still have been pretending sleep? Or would he have been watching him in the soft gaslight as he made his escape?
     He tried the door of the water closet, and the lever gave to his pull. Once inside the small room, he bolted the door and disrobed.
     Simon stood in the small claw-footed bathtub, watching the water fill, realizing this room was the only one where he could truly be alone. Even his own bedchamber was now the stalking ground of his new roomer, a circumstance he himself had allowed to exist.
     He settled into the water, letting his sticky groin become immersed in the cleansing warmth. He could lavish only about ten minutes here before the next roomer would no doubt beat on the door, demanding his turn on the toilet or in the cast iron tub.
     He let his head fall back and his shoulders relax. His mouth, too, moved in an inchoate smile, remembering his astonishing climax. Michael. His conniving, experienced, constantly aroused flat-mate had maneuvered him into an act of anal intercourse...

To the Bone #3
     ...Michael felt a slight tremble of the bed, and he knew without over-thinking it that his lover had crawled in next to him.
     He continued to lie on his belly, his face turned into the pillow. Let Simon speak and act. He would merely listen. Or do whatever Simon needed from him.
     “I’ve been meaning to apologize.”
     Michael wisely did not answer.
     “I…accidentally left my gift behind. The beautiful book. The mistake has clawed my heart. You must think me a coward and a cad.”
     Still Michael waited and then he felt the touch. Simon’s fingers lightly trailed the back of his neck, then his shoulders. His skin turned to tiny bumps from his nape to his balls; his breath came slow and labored.
     His lover’s low voice sounded muffled, strained. “You said we were starting the chess game from the first pawn move. Not my intent. I think that cannot happen anyway.”
     He felt Simon lean over him and the brush of his hot mouth on the back of his ear. “The match is too even. And we are too far advanced in our moves ever to turn back to the beginning.”
     Still not speaking, Michael spread his legs, ever so little. His arms, already splayed above the pillow, moved subtly toward the dowels, before he grasped them and waited.
     “Mee-cha-el.” Simon’s voice held all the music of heaven, playing along his ear and down his backbone, on its way to the crack in his ass. His tongue began to trace the cleavage in his buttocks, and Michael began to shake, like a goddamn kid, unable to bear the outright pleasure of his wet mouth.
     Simon had never put more than a finger near his asshole. And even then, it had been the kind of almost shy insertion a man like Michael might not even feel, his rear so pummeled for so many years by fingers, even fists of rough trade lovers. But this licking of his butt crack, this lapping and browsing of his most sensitive skin… Oh, God, he rose to it, arcing his buttocks and pushing the rim of his hole closer to the beloved mouth boasting a slick, hot tongue.
     It was a few seconds only of outright bliss, but Michael’s mind and body feasted on a deep delight he’d never known. Too soon, Simon moved away. Michael felt his lover’s tangled chest hair grazing the length of his back, then his lips seeking his ear.
     A whisper, a murmur, words almost unspoken. He strained to hear them.
     “I admit it. I want you. I need to—to fuck you. With my tongue. With my cock. Until we both are dumb from goddamn greedy joy.”
     Simon settled onto Michael’s back, lying the entire length of his body, his stiff cock riding his butt crack and his hungry mouth still in his ear.
     “Open your legs. Spread your…your ass. Let me inside...”

Thin as Smoke #4
     ...Simon was lying back on the divan in his usual attitude of disinterest, one long leg hooked over the back of the too-short seat. He looked up with those heart-clogging eyes, and his sulky lower lip seemed to jut even more than usual. He rose from his indolent posture and moved toward Michael with feline grace.
     “I cannot believe it. What is it about a simple tie that still clots your fingers?”
     Michael had never admitted to Simon that he knew a thing or two about knots, except tacitly, on the occasions when he’d applied them to a silken cord around a bed dowel. Now he stood helpless while his partner moved behind him and began to finger the buttons on his shirt.
     “First, you know, the shirt needs fastening.”
     Michael felt Simon’s closeness at his back as he’d feel the heat from a raging fireplace, and his groin flared, huge and ready. “Please, love, would ye mind?” His prick was almost shouting, I need to fuck ye!      But Michael had learned through the painstaking process of living with Simon that he’d best not show his hand so soon. After all, the man was brilliant and knew precisely what besides Michael’s burly arm lay up his sleeve.
     An’ what third fist is clenched in me pants.
     He looked down to watch Simon’s lithe fingers push buttons through embroidered holes, traveling upward, perhaps accidentally brushing a rigid nipple, until they rested near the collar. The fingers seemed to move as if the air were thick as cottage soup…slow, light as pillow down…and then they found both ends of the tie. As if mesmerized, he saw those fingers stroke the mohair. An instant electric spark resonated from his gut to his asshole.
     As his companion began to fold the ends into a wide Windsor, the blood fast pumping to his groin forced his turgid cock through the still-open fly. It seemed to erupt as a race horse would bolt from the starting gate. As he turned, Simon’s arms still circling his chest, he seemed to be accepting a lover’s tacit embrace.
     Thank God, Simon did not move backward as he half-expected. Michael slid both hands around his neck, just under the jaw, letting his thumbs play with the windpipe. He heard the other man gasp a little, felt the explosion of air as he traced the moving lips with his darting tongue, then bent the head back while he wetly explored a ready mouth.
     Simon did not try to wrest his body from Michael’s insistent cock as they kissed. Incredibly, his groin, a little lower than his own engorged prick, met his like a jackhammer. Hard, insistent, no feather-soft surface anywhere now. Just two hungry men whose hands were moving on each other’s ass…jagged breaths and ravening mouths sampling the skin of the other’s lips…now the cheeks, the ears, the hollow of throats…
     Simon moaned, a sound that served only to madden his wanting prick. He picked up the man with both oversized hands grasping his rounded buttocks and began to carry him to the bedroom...

Author Bio:
Erin O’Quinn earned a BA (English) and MA (Comparative Literature) from the University of Southern California. Her life has been a pastiche of fascinating vocations—newspaper marketing manager, university teacher, car salesperson, landscape gardener—until now, in relative retirement, she lives and writes in a small town in central Texas.

Erin has published six M/M novels and three novellas with AmberQuillPress and two independent M/M novels.

Her series titled “The Gaslight Mysteries” includes Heart to Hart, Sparring with Shadows, To the Bone. and Thin as Smoke.

Erin's indie books are NEVADA HIGHLANDER and THE KILT COMPLEX, both very well received.

In addition to these Amber Quill Press and indie books, Erin has thirteen other published novels. Of those, two are M/M historicals published by Siren Bookstrand, set in the Ireland of badass clansmen, cattle drovers, druids, Saxon mercenaries and St. Patrick himself.


Heart to Hart #1
KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

Sparring with Shadows #2
B&N  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

To the Bone #3
B&N  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

Thin as Smoke #4
B&N  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this was quite an undertaking! Reading, reviewing, and excerpting from four novels is not an easy task You made the journey very pleasant for me, and I think for readers.

    Thank you for a splendid job!