Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Copper by Bonnie Dee

Jaded lord, stalwart cop, instant attraction.

Lord Avery Wickersham wakes from a night’s debauchery at a bordello to police officers pounding on the bedroom door. During the vice raid, Constable Connor Tate is ready to arrest the lord and his two male sex partners when Avery’s glib tongue earns a reprieve for his friends if not for himself.

From this grim beginning, men as opposite as summer and winter slowly work their way to an unexpected spring. Avery is ripe for a change in his aimless life, while Connor struggles between duty and desire. Overwhelming passion takes them by storm, but can a rush of lust evolve into love when their lives are so different?

While Avery attempts altruism by volunteering at a charity mission, Connor uncovers government corruption and an evil man who brings torture and death to his victims. The duo join forces to try to stop the killer, but when one of the lovers faces peril, their time may run out.

Amazing! The Copper is only the second Bonnie Dee solo book that I have read so I don't have much experience to draw from as to whether the gritty details of torture that Bertrand and others face are the norm for her writing.  Some might find them a bit too detailed for a romance but for me, they were perfectly fitting for the story and the way the characters, especially Connor, deal with it and the fallout from it is realistic.  As a history buff, I find the details and realism of the era pretty spot on, which only further heightens both my enjoyment of the story and my respect for the author.  I love how Connor and Avery seem to influence change in each other but I think what they really do is make the other dig down deeper to expose what was already there.  If what you are looking for is lighthearted romantic fun, this probably is not the book for you.  Yes, there are moments of fun and romance between Connor and Avery and definitely moments of tenderness towards Bertrand but overall this is a gritty tale of corruption and torture with moments of pure unadulterated darkness.  So if these are not your thing, proceed with caution but I found the story heartwarming along side the dark showing what the human spirit is a capable of when tested, so I highly recommend The Copper. it does not disappoint.

Avery drew on his drawers and had one foot in his trousers when raised voices and clattering footsteps on the stairs alerted him to disaster.

“Come out now, you blighters! You’re all under arrest.” A booming voice preceded pounding at a door down the corridor. More shouts followed as the police swept through the rooms where Madame’s select clientele lay sleeping off the night’s dissolution.

Avery froze like a fox flushed by hounds from its den. His haven had been breached. His heart pounded as he envisioned the ramifications of an arrest. Even more than fear, anger surged through him at this invasion of privacy. What he and his companions chose to do here should be no one’s business but their own, and he defied any man who said otherwise.

Defying was easier dreamed of than carried out when the bedroom door crashed open and a man in a uniform rushed in. The pair on the bed jumped up in alarm, the possible Norwegian cursing in his native tongue and the singer bursting into tears and begging, both of them pulling up bedcovers to shield their nudity.

The front of his trousers still open, Avery planted his feet and stared into the constable’s eyes, which were a vivid blue below the brim of his blue helmet. “What’s the trouble, Officer?”

The strong jaw beneath a day’s worth of stubble clenched so hard, Avery thought it might cut through the man’s flesh. “You’re under arrest. Hold out your hands.”

“What’s the charge, sir?” Avery asked blandly.

“You know very well.” The man began to quote the law by rote as he produced a pair of handcuffs. “Any male person who, in public or private, commits, procures or attempts to procure any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

“Do you see any one of us engaged in any sort of promiscuous act? We were merely sharing a bedchamber…” Avery glanced at his nude companions. “And all of us happen prefer to sleep without a nightshirt. Or drawers.”

The policeman beckoned the Viking to him. “You first.”

Avery wondered if the bearded giant planned on giving the policeman trouble. But he shuffled forward docilely and offered his wrists, still rumbling curses. The blue-eyed bobby snapped on a pair of cuffs.

Poor Bertrand cried so loudly, the noise was deafening. Another officer entered the room and approached the sobbing singer. “You shut yer gob, you flamin’ pouf.”

Bertrand shrieked and flailed his hands, raking the man’s cheek with his painted nails. “I won’t go back there. I won’t!”

The balding copper, who’d lost his helmet somewhere along the way, pulled back a fist and drove it into Bertrand’s face. Blood spurted from Bertrand’s nose, and he howled.

“Here now. That’s enough. Leave him alone.” Avery started toward the pair to stop the smaller man from being beaten to a pulp. But he couldn’t intercept before the constable punched Bertrand again, in the stomach this time, effectively stopping his screaming as Bertrand gasped for air.

Avery put himself between the officer and his victim, intercepting a blow, which clipped the side of his head. He hadn’t felt a punch like that since his boxing days at university. The knuckles against his ear made his head ring. He blinked away white stars and formed a fist of his own, but before he could punch the bald cop, the other officer grabbed both his arms and pulled him away. The man’s grip was like a pair of iron manacles. His body against Avery’s back was granite.

“Go on, Turnbull. I have these men under control. See if any of the others need help.” The constable’s voice rumbled near Avery’s ear. He was nearly Avery’s height, and not many men were—excluding the giant Swede, who stood a head taller than either of them.

When his angry partner appeared ready to keep punching, the one snapping cuffs on Avery’s wrists repeated, “I don’t need your help here. Go!”

The other constable glared but left to join the mayhem beyond the room. Avery glimpsed men in uniform and others in various states of undress passing by the partially open door. Chaos had entered Renaud’s, and not of the fun sort they’d all experienced last night.

After his partner left, the officer moved toward Bertrand, who’d crumpled into a naked heap on the floor. He removed his helmet and rubbed a hand through closely shorn but very thick black hair, then squatted beside Bertrand without touching him. “Calm yourself. I won’t handcuff you, but you must promise to behave while I escort you to the wagon.”

Bertrand gazed up at him over the hand covering his injured nose. “I can’t do it. I can’t go back there. Please don’t…” The rest of his words were muffled by blood and mucus.

“For God’s sake, let the man put on some clothes.” Avery felt fairly exposed himself, wearing only his unfastened trousers. He began to button him with his cuffed hands. “Allow the lad some dignity.”

He half expected the policeman to make a retort about nancies getting what they deserved. But the officer covered Bertrand’s parts with a sheet from the bed, offered him a handkerchief for his nose, then rose and searched for the singer’s and the Swede’s clothing.

“They’ll be in the wardrobe. The staff here is meticulous about clothing.” Avery considered that poor Madame Renaud would likely be arrested as well. She’d be charged with pandering. And the servants? Likely they’d scattered like pigeons the moment the bulls charged inside the building.

As Bertrand sniffled and drew on the frock he’d worn for his performance last night, the Norwegian awkwardly pulled on his trousers with his cuffed hands.

Avery drew a breath and considered his dire situation. He could probably buy his way out of a jail sentence, but he couldn’t afford the scandal. Not that his name would ever be pure. Most of high society guessed his inclinations but continued to invite him to galas because Avery added sparkle and life to any gathering. Wealth and a title went a long way toward making people overlook things they didn’t want to acknowledge.

But with this arrest, Avery’s secret life would be on full display. No more hiding in the shadows. An end of invitations and shunning all around, except for among his own kind. Likely those who hadn’t missed being caught up in the raid would go to ground for a while until the scandal blew over. They’d scatter to villas in Tuscany, islands in Greece, perhaps steam across to New York for a visit. London would be void of all life, color, and companionship for a time.

Avery shook off his gloom. Here he was selfishly thinking about a dearth in his social life when some of the men arrested today, the ones without resources, could be facing long prison sentences. And poor Bertrand’s beautiful face!

Avery went to help him fasten the buttons on his gown. “Is your nose all right? Does it hurt too badly?”

“Damn my nose! I can’t go to jail again. I can’t. You don’t know how it was for me last time.” Bertrand’s eyes darted right and left. He was terrified nearly out of his mind, and that simply wouldn’t do.

Avery turned to the constable, who was helping the Viking fasten his trousers over the man’s considerable cock. The officer’s face flushed deeply as he completed his task.

“Officer… May I know your name?” Avery asked.

The man glanced up. “Tate.”

“Officer Tate, please hear me out. If you’d let the three of us slip through the cracks, as it were, I’d show you deep gratitude commensurate with such a generous act.”

“Are you offering me a bribe, sir?” Cool eyes drilled into him like diamond points. “The reputation of the force is shadowed by corruption, but I assure you, I do not accept bribes.”

“Not a bribe. Think of it as a reward for kindness. As you can see, Bertrand here will not last a night nor even an hour in jail. Please, at least let the boy go with a warning. He could hide under the bed until everyone is gone, with none of your colleagues the wiser. I’ll accompany you without complaint.”

Those eyes continued to skewer him, but Avery pressed on. “After my solicitor secures my release, I shall pay you an equal amount for helping this poor youth.”

“A bribe,” the policeman repeated.

“A gratuity,” Avery insisted and realized how often he used his hands to gesture for emphasis. He felt quite at a loss with them cuffed.

The noise in the hallway continued, but the quiet in the room grew thick and heavy as the copper seemed to be mulling over the offer.

Avery held his breath, the Swede ceased his muttering, and even Bertrand stopped whimpering.

The square-jawed officer pressed his lips tight and stared at each of them in turn, his gaze resting longest on Bertrand’s tear-streaked face and swelling nose. He pointed at the singer. “Hide until you hear everyone clear the house. The other pair must come with me. I can’t come away without arrests.”

“God bless you, sir. You’ve saved me!” Bertrand started to throw his arms impulsively around the uniform, but the copper pushed him off. The singer took the hint and quickly scrambled under the bed.

The Swede or Norwegian bobbed his shaggy head in approval. “Ja. Utmerket.”

Avery exchanged a steady look with the officer and nodded, sealing his deal with the devil.

But as he passed the man to precede him from the room, the copper grasped his arm. “You may keep your money. I told you, I don’t accept bribes.”

Author Bio:
I began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, I was the designated ghost tale teller. I still have a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.

Writing childish stories for my own pleasure led to majoring in English at college. Like most English majors, I dreamed of writing a novel, but at that time in my life didn't have the necessary focus and follow through. Then life happened. A husband and children occupied the next twenty years and it was only in 2000 that I began writing again.

I enjoy dabbling in many genres. Each gives me a different way to express myself. I've developed a habit of writing every day that's almost an addiction. I don't think I could stop now if I tried.



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