Monday, August 6, 2018

Monday's Mysterious Mayhem: In Other Words . . . Murder by Josh Lanyon

Death reveals all secrets.

Mystery author Christopher Holmes, now comfortably married to sometimes rival, sometimes nemesis J.X. Moriarity, is starting a new career as a true crime writer when threatening anonymous notes start arriving.

Even worse, Christopher's ex also arrives--asking for help locating the man he left Christopher for!

It's life--and death--as usual at Chez Holmes. In other words... Murder.

Christopher Holmes has settled into his new home and living the domestic life with his partner JX Moriarity, if he could only get his writing mojo settled everything would be in order.  As thoughts turn toward happily ever after for the pair, Kit receives news he never expected, a body was discovered on the property of his former home and with it comes communication in the form of accusations of murder from the last person he wanted to hear from: his ex.  Will this body be just another day in the life of Kit and JX or could it be one body too many?

There's just something about Christopher "Kit" Holmes that makes him special.  Perhaps it's his wit, his take on life, his love for his creation Miss Butterwith & Mr. Pinkerton, or perhaps its just his dumb luck when it comes to murder and finding bodies.  Who knows?  But I don't really need to have an answer as to why I love Kit, I just do and I look forward to more.  As you know I won't touch on the plot or the whos, whys, and whats of the body found in Kit's old yard but I will say that its brilliantly mapped out from the first phone call to the reveal.  There may not be as many twists and turns that Kit usually stumbles upon with his bodies but the author kept me at the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Murder mysteries are often riddled with dark moments to balance out the romance or relationship element and yes there are scenes that bring on nailbiting in this entry but Kit has a way about him that makes even the dark, light and comical.  That's not to say he's not to be taken seriously or that the mystery is overshadowed by comedy. What I mean is In Other Words . . . Murder is a delicious blend of mystery, drama, romance, and comedy which in my experience are four elements that can be hard to make the right balance when it comes to murder.

If you haven't read the first three books in Josh Lanyon's Holmes & Moriarity series I suppose you can start with this one as each entry is a new case but the relationship between Kit and JX will make more sense and flow better when read in order.  Trust me, you won't regret giving this series a read and if you are already a fan than this is one you can't miss because even though it may not be the best in the series it does have everything that makes Kit, well Kit.


Chapter One

“That’s one word,” J.X. objected.

“Hm?” I was studying the colorful travel brochures littering my lap and the raw-silk ivory comforter. Walk in the footsteps of the Colosseum’s ancient gladiators! Cruise canals in a golden gondola! Live La Dolce Vita! read the cover of the brochure I held. I could practically feel the venerable blue of the Roman sky beneath my fingertips.

There was a bewildering array of options. Everything from private guided tours with personally tailored itineraries to culturally themed coach tours. We could do an eight-day Adriatic cruise or a fourteen-day grand tour by rail.

The only option not available to me was staying home.

“Kill. Slang. Three words,” J.X. said. “First word starts with D.”

It was eleven o’clock on a Friday night in late October, and we were cozily tucked up in our master bedroom at 321 Cherry Lane. J.X. was doing the San Francisco Examiner crossword, and I was figuring out our spring vacation plans. It really doesn’t get much more domesticated than that.

“Oh. Do away with.”

He was silent as his pencil scratched on paper. He made a disgusted sound. “Elementary, my dear Holmes.”

I glanced at him. “Bad clues, my dear Moriarity. Do away with isn’t slang. It’s a phrasal verb.”

“Right?” He regarded me for a moment, then nodded at the scattered brochures. “What do you think? What looks good to you?”

“I don’t know. They’re all pretty expensive.”

“Money is no object.”

I snorted. “It might not be the object, but it should be a consideration.”

He got that dark-eyed, earnest look he always wore when applying the thumbscrews. “I want to do this for you, Kit. I don’t care about the money. I want us to have this. We’ve never gone away on vacation together.”

“Yeah, I know. Possibly averting an international incident.”

His mouth quirked, but he said coaxingly, “Think about it. You and me. Hot, naked sex in a gondola.”

I gave him a look of horror. “They have gondoliers, you know!”

He laughed. “Okay, then how about a gondola ride at sunset and candlelight dinner on the terrace of our private villa—and then hot, naked sex. Beneath the stars?”

I cleared my throat.

Spotting weakness in his prey, J.X. moved in for the kill. “I’m serious, though. Just you and me. Together. Doing whatever we want. No conference, no convention, no meetings with agents or editors, no deadlines. We could explore Rome’s catacombs—or just visit a few museums and galleries. We could see the Pantheon and the Colosseum. We could go to Florence and see the Ponte Vecchio. Or spend a couple of days swimming with dolphins off the Isle of Capri. Or we could do nothing but sleep and eat and fu—”

“I get the picture,” I said.

Despite the fact that I don’t like to travel—hate to travel—a lot of that did sound appealing. I said, “Private villa, huh?”

“Whatever you want, Kit.” He was suddenly serious, gaze solemn, the line of his mouth soft. Such a romantic guy. Especially for an ex-cop. Well, really, for anyone.

“It sounds…nice,” I admitted. It sounded better than nice. Maybe even kind of lovely.

His smile was very white in the lamplight. He tossed the newspaper and pencil aside and drew me into his arms. We fell back against the mattress. The brochures whispered and crackled beneath us as his mouth found mine. He kissed me deeply, sweetly, whispered, “Maybe we could make it a honeymoon…”

My eyes popped open.

Before I could reply—not that I had a reply ready—the bedroom door pushed wide, and a small voice said, “Uncle Julie?”

J.X. sat up. “Hey, honey.” He only sounded the tiniest bit flustered, plus got bonus points for not flinging me aside and springing completely off the bed as I had done to him the first few times this happened. “You’re supposed to knock, remember?”

“I forgot.” Gage said huskily, “I had a bad dream.”

Gage was J.X.’s five-year-old nephew. Actually, it was more complicated than that, but the point was the kid was spending the weekend with us, as he did a couple of times a month.

“A bad dream, huh?” J.X. opened his arms, and Gage climbed into bed between us, snuggling against him. “We don’t have bad dreams in this house.”

I threw him a look of disbelief. He meant well, but come on. Everybody has nightmares. Him included.

“What did you dream?” I asked.

Gage rolled me a sideways look. Over the past four months we’d forged a truce, but he still largely took me on sufferance. Which was okay because frankly, I’m an acquired taste: best consumed with cream, sugar, and, yeah, a generous heaping of sufferance.

“Monsters,” he said tersely.


“Monsters?” J.X. repeated thoughtfully. “There are no monsters here. This is a monster-free zone.” He gave Gage a comforting squeeze. “You know what we do to monsters in this house?”

Gage shook his head, his gaze wary.

He was right to be wary because J.X. pretend-growled, “We tickle them,” and pounced.

Gage squealed, and the two of them rolled around on the travel brochures, Gage wriggling and kicking—managing to land a few well-aimed blows at me in passing—before finally sitting up and resettling themselves against the pillows bulwarking the headboard.

J.X. winked at me. I shook my head resignedly.

“What you want to think about is all the fun we’re going to have tomorrow when you and me and Uncle Kit—”

“Christopher,” I interjected.

“—Uncle Christopher go to the Halloween Hootenanny.”

Gage and I eyed each other in complete understanding. He knew I did not want to attend this Halloween Horrorama any more than he wanted me there. He knew, as did I, we neither of us had any choice. It was in these moments that we could actually walk a mile or two in the other’s moccasins—though I admit fuzzy bunny slippers were a tight fit for my ethos.

J.X. continued to extol the ordeals—er, delights—of the day ahead, which was scheduled to conclude with the movie Smallfoot and dinner at Rosario’s Pizzeria.

“So, no more bad dreams, okay?” he concluded.

“Okay,” Gage said doubtfully. And then, “Can I sleep in here?”

J.X. wavered but stayed strong. “No, honey. You’re getting too big to bunk in here. There’s not enough room for all three of us. Uncle Christopher and I would fall right out onto the floor!”

And then the monster that lives under the bed would get us.

But see, I was getting fond of the little cheese mite because I didn’t say it. Gage, however, had no doubt who the villain of the piece was. His bleak and beady gaze fell on me.

“What about a night-light?” I suggested.

His face brightened.

“Nnn.” J.X. grimaced. “I don’t think we want to get into that habit, do we?”

He seemed to be asking Gage, who looked to me like a kid who very much hoped they could maybe get into that habit.

“As habits go,” I began. I remembered I was technically only an honorary uncle and should not be debating Gage’s real uncle’s child-rearing decisions in front of him. I shrugged, but couldn’t help adding, “It’s a big house, and it’s still strange to him. I had a night-light when I was his age.”

J.X. frowned. “Did you?”


“Night-lights can disrupt sleep patterns. Maybe that’s why you have these bouts of insomnia.”

“You know what disrupts sleep patterns? Being scared there’s a monster watching you from the closet—or waiting under your bed for you to step onto the floor.”

Gage gulped. J.X. exclaimed, “Kit.”

I said hastily, “Not that monsters do that because monsters aren’t real, and anyway, this is a monster-free zone. Like J.X., er, your uncle Julie said. He’s the monster expert of the family.”

Gage was still goggling at me, and J.X. was giving me the full-frontal unibrow in silent censure. Oh please. Like I hadn’t voiced exactly what the kid was already thinking?

“Okay, I know what you need.” I threw the bedclothes back and swung my legs over the side of the mattress, thereby demonstrating there were no monsters under this bed. “How about a nice warm cup of cocoa?”

Gage considered his options and nodded grudging approval. J.X. smiled, pleased that I was taking an avuncular interest, and suggested, “Make it three?”

“Sure. You want brandy in yours?”

“I want brandy,” Gage offered.

“It won’t mix with the sleeping pills,” I said, and J.X. inhaled sharply. “Kidding,” I told him.

He shook his head, though fondly. “Are you doing that Nutella thing again?”

“I can if you like.”

“I like Nutella,” Gage volunteered.

“That’s a little rich before bed,” Uncle Ebenezer Balfour objected.

I said, “Okay, a round of cocoa, one virgin and two nuts.”

Gage giggled, J.X. looked undecided, and I departed posthaste.

I was thinking about the weirdness of my life, absently stirring the milk, Nutella, and four tablespoons of cream in a small saucepan, when the kitchen phone rang.

I tore my gaze from Gage’s latest artistic efforts pinned to the refrigerator door—a frantic-looking stick figure was racing away from two other stick figures wearing Jack-o’-lantern heads. The Jack-o’-lantern people were brandishing what appeared to be very pointy knives.

Yikes. No wonder he didn’t want to sleep alone.

Back when I lived on my own, I always used the answering machine to screen my calls. But J.X. was different. He liked to answer the phone and did so regularly. He looked forward to hearing from people. He enjoyed chatting. I don’t think he even truly disliked telemarketers. I, on the other hand, agreed with Ambrose Bierce when he said the telephone was “an invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.”

It had taken a couple of months to teach him—J.X., not Ambrose—that I was rarely at home to random callers, even when I was at home, but eventually he got the message. Or at least permitted my callers to leave theirs.

But phone calls around the witching hour are never good news, and after the first startled-sounding ring, I picked up the handset.


There was a hesitation—like someone had to pause to catch their breath. As slight as that sound was, I felt my heart drop through the cage of my rib bones and land with a thump on the black-and-white parquet floor. I too had to stop to catch my breath, as though picking up the phone had required monumental, heroic effort, and had I known who was on the other end, it would have. In fact, I wouldn’t have answered.

“Christopher?” That deep baritone had once been as familiar as… Well, choose your favorite domestic simile. That voice had once been as familiar as J.X.’s because that was the role in my life the owner of the voice had played.

“David.” My own voice was surprisingly flat, given the way emotions were zinging up and down my nervous system, emergency flares sparking into life—and promptly shorting out.

“I had a visit from the police a few hours ago.” His voice was shaking. “They told me they found a body in our backyard. Our old backyard. Your backyard. You killed him, didn’t you? You killed Dicky!”
Author Bio:
Bestselling author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance, JOSH LANYON has been called "the Agatha Christie of gay mystery."

Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan's annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place on the list).

The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male Male Couple in the 2nd Annual contest held by the Goodreads M/M Group (which has over 22,000 members). Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist for Gay Mystery, and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.

Josh is married and they live in Southern California.


In Other Words . . . Murder #4


Blog Tour: Hard to Hold by Jaclyn Quinn

Title: Hard to Hold
Author: Jaclyn Quinn
Series: Haven's Cove #3
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Perfect, happy, “Jonah the Savior”, that’s how most people see Jonah Taylor. What they don’t always see is how incredibly overwhelmed he is with his new business or how lonely he is. When a painfully shy man enters his wellness center, all Jonah wants to do is help break him out of his shell. The problem is, the attraction he feels to the nervous, timid man is undeniable.

Cameron Vaughn has let most of his life be decided for him. A traumatic event from his past has caused him to doubt every decision he makes. When he’s forced into a new, anxiety-ridden situation, his first instinct is to run. So, what is it about the owner of the wellness center that has him questioning everything he’s ever been told?

Can one man convince the other he’s worth saving? Can the other realize he’s strong enough to save himself? Together, can they prove that what they’ve found is worth holding on to?

It was still pretty light outside, but Cameron was standing in mostly darkness, the only light now coming from the stairs. Taking a deep breath, he once again reminded himself of the promise he’d made to Dr. Sampson and to himself to face things head on. Time to find out what the hell I did wrong. He took the stairs slowly, steadily breathing in and out as he got to the landing in front of Jonah’s door. He glanced down the stairs to the exit, then took one last chest filled breath, lifted his hand, and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Jonah called out and with a shaking hand, Cameron opened the door.

Hesitantly, Cameron walked in, scanning the small space for Jonah who was standing across the room by a table with his back to the door.

“Don’t tell me the lock is sticking again. I’ll have to complain to my land...” Jonah turned around, and the smile left his face, “lord. Cameron... Sorry, thought you were Gabe, who also happens to be my landlord.” Jonah gripped the back of his neck and gave a small laugh. Was he nervous?

Panic flooded Cam. What the hell he was thinking? The uneasy look on Jonah’s face reminded him, though. He cleared his throat, rubbed his palms on his jeans and said in a shaky voice, “Didn’t mean to bother you so late. I just... Well, I have a question.”

Jonah plastered the fake smile on his face that Cameron was starting to hate. “What’s up?”

Cameron looked back toward the door, his need to find the exit in any situation like a thorn in his side and a comfort at the same time. He opened and closed his trembling hands, took a deep breath, and finally asked, “What did I do?”

Jonah was clearly confused. “I’m sorry?”

Balling his hands into fists, Cameron drew strength from the tightness and asked again. “What did I do wrong?” He looked down at his fists, slowly uncurling his fingers, and began fidgeting with his hands. “I mean, I obviously did something wrong because you’ve been really weird with me for days. In fact, you’ve been pretty quiet, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what I did.” Holy shit. Did all of that really just come out of his mouth? It suddenly hit Cameron that Jonah treating him differently was bothering him more than he realized. Enough to actually speak up for once in his goddamn life and ask why.

Jonah’s look of shock confirmed that...yes, he really had just said all that. He ran the hand that had been gripping the back of his neck up through his blond hair then back down to his neck. Jonah walked over to the couch and sat down. Slowly, he leaned over, resting his elbows on his thighs then looked back up at Cameron. The desperate sadness in Jonah’s gaze definitely threw Cameron off.

“Shit, Cam, I’m sorry. I was trying to not make you feel uncomfortable, and instead, I went completely to the other end of the spectrum.”

“Huh?” Jonah had used his nickname, the same one Ali had used only days before. He hadn’t liked when Ali called him Cam, but when Jonah said it, it made him feel warm. It felt…intimate. Jonah patted the cushion next to him, and Cameron found himself walking over and sitting down without a second thought. “Why would you think you were making me uncomfortable?” he asked, still completely confused.

“Because you’re always so nervous around me. You... Do you know you barely look at me? I thought― Ah, it’s so stupid when I think about it now. Just ignore me. You’ve done absolutely nothing wrong…a bit of a distraction…but nothing wrong.”

Author Bio:
I have been an artist from a very young age. From drawing cartoon characters and evolving into portraits, making jewelry, photography, and now writing. I have an amazing support system in my family and friends and couldn’t be more grateful.

I live in central New Jersey, love summers at the Jersey Shore, rock music, wine, sexy men, and laughing a lot with my amazing friends and family. Sunday dinners at my parents’ house are crazy, hysterical and you can count on a movie quote…or ten…being thrown out. Insults between siblings is how we show our love for each other!

When I’m not creating, you can find me reading books from my favorite authors. I’m a hopeless romantic, starving for passionate characters and always craving that happy ending, whether in reading or in writing my own books.


Hard to Hold #3


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