Review: The Schoolmaster’s Spry by Ruby Moone

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: The Schoolmaster’s Spy

Author: Ruby Moone 

Publisher: Self-Published 

Cover Artist: Meredith Russell 

Release Date: October 28, 2021 

Genre: Regency MM 

Tropes: School Crushes / King’s spy with trust issues & geeky school master 

Themes: Trust, love, finding a family, self-acceptance 

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 93 000 words

It is book three in the Winsford Green Series and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Book 1 – Dances Long Forgotten

Book 2 – People Like Us 

Goodreads Series 

Review:

Dexter is a spy, who used to be deep in the trenches (so to speak) in France. Now the French war is over and he’s sent on other odd jobs, like looking for French spies on British soil. He meets up with his old instructor, back when he was a rambunctious youth, and there is INSTANT attraction. It’s cute how the playboy is immediately smitten with his old instructor, who is also equally taken by him.

I was drawn to this book, because like my recent release, it has the past student/teacher relationship that I adore. The story was sweet with not too much unnecessary drama (But it’s a book, so of course there is drama!), but in general, the two men get along and want to be honest and protect each other, and I appreciated that. The plot was a backdrop to watch these two get past the initial lie that was the foundation of their coming together and their eventual admission about with how they feel about each other. A delightful historical romance.

The book did have two properties that kept throwing me out of the story, though. My guess is most readers won’t even be bothered by these. First, though it’s historical, it was flush with modern sentimentality and expectations. Second, if I go by the statistics in this book, I’d guess about 80% of England at this time was gay. It appeared to be a bloodline trait as well.

Definitely a recommendation for those who enjoy gay historical romance. You get your HEA, sweet love, action, intrigue and above it all, Heroes.

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link   |  Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

Mark Dexter was the one boy that schoolmaster, Felix Brook, never forgot. Ten years later, he’s back… 

Blurb

With Bonaparte defeated, King’s spy, Captain Mark Dexter is furious at being sent to investigate the latest headmaster of his old school, rather than a smuggling ring on the south coast. Things look up considerably when he realises that the schoolmaster he admired above all others, Felix Brook, is still there. The man who listened to him, the man who cared about him, the man who is still out of bounds. With only half an eye on the job, Dexter puts Felix in a compromising position. The mission goes catastrophically wrong, leaving Felix to bear the brunt of the repercussions. With his commanding officer after his blood, and Felix running from him, Dexter is desperate to put things right.

Felix Brook, schoolmaster, is devoted to Hestingley’s school and its pupils. His life is quiet and unremarkable, but When Mark Dexter turns up at an Old Boys’ dinner, he turns Felix’s life inside out. In the decade since he last saw him, the wild, unpredictable schoolboy has become a devastatingly handsome man. Felix can scarcely believe it when Dexter makes his attraction clear, it’s like a dream come true. Until it all goes wrong.

Reluctantly thrown together at the Winsford Green annual Summer Fete, Felix and Dexter attempt to piece together what happened, rebuild trust, and deal with the searing passion that still burns between them. When the truth is finally revealed, Felix must not only prove his innocence, but hold tightly to love as Dexter’s world crumbles beneath him.

Excerpt

Felix yelled aloud at the shock of running into someone in the dark corridor. A firm hand clamped over his mouth and Felix clutched the strong arm that held him. When the hand eased a little, he was wondering frantically what to say by way of explanation for his presence, when a wave of sandalwood mingled with leather hit him. There was only one person in the world who smelled like that. Only one person with that underlying scent of manliness. He swallowed and stared at the floor, gathering his composure. Why would Dexter be here? Why? The conclusion he drew both terrified and exhilarated him.

The hand over his mouth lifted and Felix had to make himself not lick his lips.

“Brook?” It was him. Mark Dexter was standing in front of him, one arm holding him tight. Felix had regretted not taking up the earlier, blatant invitation with every fibre of his being. Castigated himself as an abject looby for not responding with at least a smidgeon of sophistication and behaving like the insular, lonely schoolmaster he was.

“You followed me.” He hadn’t a clue what else to say.

“Is that what you think?”

Felix had to look up at that. “Well, why else are you here?”

Moonlight shone through the window beside them, casting a ghostly glow over Dexter’s head, making his hair look darker and his eyes gleam.

“Why else indeed,” Dexter whispered and stepped closer. Felix’s instinct was to run, but he held his ground. This was probably the last chance he would get to spend time with him. Who was he fooling? Spend time? He didn’t want to spend time, he wanted to… Well, he didn’t know what in God’s name he wanted but it involved Captain Mark Dexter in his rooms. In his bed, leaning over him, kissing him, feeling the weight of him. Christ, he wanted him naked.

“Do you want me to leave?” Dexter was so close he could feel the warmth from his body.

This was it. All he had to do was say ‘yes’ and he was sure that Dexter would leave. He had done so last time.

“Mr. Brook?”

“My name is Felix,” he said, surprised at how deep and rough his voice was.

A smile spread across Dexter’s sculpted features. “Felix,” he whispered as though tasting the word on his tongue.

“You can’t be calling me Mr. Brook. That man was your teacher.”

“And this man, Felix?”

Felix shivered as Dexter moved closer. He touched his nose to Felix’s ear and the breath left Felix’s chest. His eyes fluttered closed, his mouth opened on a soundless word, and he leaned into the contact.

Dexter’s hand slid around Felix’s waist, and he pulled him a tiny bit nearer. He pushed his nose against Felix’s cheek and nuzzled. Felix felt the soft warmth of his breath, the scent of his skin, and the latent strength in the body that stood so, so close.

“Might this man, Felix, be my lover for tonight?”

About the Author

Ruby Moone lives in the wilds of Lancashire with her husband and writes historical and contemporary romance. At school, her teachers said that she lived with her head in the clouds and if she didn’t stop daydreaming she would never get anywhere. She never did stop daydreaming, and after years of happily living in the clouds, decided to write the stories down.

Social Media links

Facebook Page  |  Facebook Group – Ruby’s Room  

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Review: Best Laid Plaids


Best Laid Plaids (Kilty Pleasures) by Ella Stainton

Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | Carina Press | Kobo

Length: Novel (283 pages)

As a Scotch/Irish descendent, I was drawn to the delightfully fun title of this book. This book hits the ground running in a superbly masterful unveiling of character balancing fun, heat, and the struggles of hiding one’s true feelings. Once I picked it up, I found it difficult to set aside.

Dr. Ainsley Graham is a wealthy Scot, full of energy, who jumps from bedmate to bedmate in an era where it’s illegal to love other men. Oh, and he hears ghosts. Joachim Cockburn is the older man, a student of psychology, coming to prove Ainsley is a bit off his rocker due to his belief in ghosts.

The steam hits early, but the characters go back and forth, trying to hide their growing feelings for each other. Ainsley is a playboy, and Joachim doesn’t want to push him away by revealing his attachment. Together they cross the Scottish countryside looking for ghosts, grasping at intimate moments while convincing themselves it will all end in a week.

The culture and world building really bring Scotland and the characters alive on the page. Ainsley’s grief and guilt about his dead brother keeps him from reaching out and getting close to other people. Joachim’s desire to get his phd and make something of himself works against his realization that Ainsley isn’t mad. There really are ghosts.

The ghosts flit in and out of the story and play a major role for the characters’ growth and the plot, but I’d have loved a bit more play with them. Hopefully in the next story, well see more ghosts.

Note: this is a Dom/sub style story, but it’s not whips and chains BDSM. The dynamics unfold naturally and fit the characters in believable ways. It hits on some hurt comfort, facing falling in love, loyalty, all in a post WWI historical atmosphere.

Review: Hathonatum by Taylin Clavelli

Hathonatum by Taylin Clavelli

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Publisher: MLR Press | Smashwords

Length: Novel (~300 pages)

An interesting take on star-crossed lovers. A soulmate story that crosses dimensions. This review is littered with spoilers, so beware. Long story short, a very sweet romance with some great characters and fantastic world building.

I was drawn to this novel for two reasons. I love Egypt and the mythology and history of that country. The other was the promise of interspecies romance. Taylin delivered beautifully on both. Her research and knowledge of Egypt shone in this novel and in her interview, she talks about her own love for Egypt. And while Hathonatum isn’t all that different from humans, there are definite differences between biology, culture, and world.

Ben is an archaeologist and one of the reasons he’s drawn to Egypt is that in his past life he was the king’s consort of a sort. And Hathonatum (in a very interesting way I won’t go into to avoid too many spoilers) was that king.

The worldbuilding really shines in this story with the layers of past lives, soul mates, and alien cultures. It seems like a huge mash up, but it works.

Ben, the human, knows what he wants. And when he meets Hathonatum, he knows this is the man he’s been waiting for. They are drawn together. Hathonatum was there specifically for Ben, because he knows Ben is his soulmate. Hathonatum is the capable, older, confident man of the relationship, but doesn’t bully Ben. There is support and love.

Though the story has one (unnecessary in my opinion) relationship set back, for the most part there isn’t much relationship angst. (Ugh relationship angst… not my fave.). The conflict is with the world out there, with other characters, with other aliens with agendas, it isn’t between the two main relationship characters. So, cheers for that.

Ben’s brother is a pretty significant character in this book. Jared is awesome and supportive and makes me wish I had a sibling like him. Their closeness is a gem and how they will do anything for each other. I’m happy to see strong family support.

My biggest gripe has nothing to do with the relationship, but one aspect of the worldbuilding. I had issues with the time slip between dimensions. I’m wondering if I missed some vital clue in my reading. So an hour in Hathonatum’s dimension is a week or so on Earth. But we have a couple where one half is on this side and the other half is on that side, but there is no problem with the time slip with them. I didn’t understand why. There was another issue with DNA sequencing to make earthlings and Hathonatum’s people age at the same rate (apparently Hathonatum’s people are very long lived)… but I wasn’t sure if this was attached to the time slip, and if so, why would it matter if the human was in the other dimension. It seems he would age at the speed of whatever time he was in (see author’s comment explaining where I got it wrong!). So, those two things kinda nagged at me, but if you’re not picky about details like these, they shouldn’t bother you to enjoying this romantic story as a whole.

I wanted more closure on Jared getting the King’s DNA (for the aging issue mentioned above) and what exactly that meant. Lots of hubbaloo and hinting with no actual follow through. Then I found out this was book one of a series, and I’m betting this is going to continue in the next book, which has me excited and eager to find out what is up with the DNA sharing!

All in all, a satisfying story and a fairly smooth read. The characters are likable, you want to root for the romance, and the world is interesting. Interesting teasers for what might be unveiled in the next book. Definitely worth a read to anyone interested in star-crossed/soulmate type stories.

Check out Taylin’s guest post on why she chose Egypt as her settling! Guest Post Taylin Clavelli

Review: Behind the Stick


Behind the Stick by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 AmazonApple | Kobo

Length: Novel (370 pages)

Luka is a hot, bulky, sweet guy who saves people’s lives for a living. He’s a bit of a mamma’s boy, but his respect for his mother his part of his charm. He doesn’t want to disappoint her, but feels horribly disappointed in the fact that his mother has issues with her son dating a white man.

Kyle is a bartender who has an on again off again booty call with his business partner/ex and his boyfriend. He’s got a bother he’s really close to, is very proud of his business, and is well put together.

Both of these guys are confident, and they know what they want. They are equals. I loved that about them. (Equal partners are very important to me.)

This is a character driven romance about these two guys coming together, finding ways to include each other in their busy lives, dealing with frustratingly prejudiced family members, and dealing with being attacked by gay bashers. If you’re looking for a story with a lot of external plot, this is probably not your story.

But if you’re looking for heart, this story has mountains of it.

First, I did not read the previous books to this series, and I think that was a detriment. There are a lot of characters, so many, in fact, that I lost track of who was who. I’m sure if I’d read the previous novels, I would have been more grounded. So, I focused on Kyle and Luka and their families.

Second, when I agreed to read and review this book, though the blurb did say MMMM menage, I did not think ‘oh this meant open relationships’. Smack myself in the head—that’s exactly what it meant. So… that was a sideswipe for me, because, I don’t like open relationship romances, and I would not have picked up this book if I had put two and two together. (so, I am surgically removing this part from my rating, but I wanted other readers to be aware of it in case that wasn’t their cup of tea.)

I like my love between romantic partners to be about the romance, not just the sex. So, one of the sex scenes felt very impersonal (the mmmm hook up) and didn’t really work for me. I found myself skimming them. Others, however, were spot on spicy!

The book really dove into the life of the characters, settling into the every day elements that define them. The emotional attachment the two men developed for each other and how they banded together against the adversarial world was the strength of this book.

I felt the book really gripped me once the characters were attacked (is that horrible, I want to say that’s kinda horrible). It was a faster paced read as they dealt with their own reactions and how such violence effected them personally and their relationship. My heart went out to these guys, because I just wanted them to be happy.

So, if you’re keen on character driven almost slice of life stories, with some emotional hurt/comfort and recovery, this is your book. If you dig open relationships and want to sink your teeth into an mmmm sex scene, this is most definitely your book.

Check out my interview with the authors on why they chose to write interracial romance! Author Interview with K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Series Review : A Series of Fates by C.C. Dado

A Series of Fates by C.C. Dado

This entire series  was a fun, light-hearted romp through a shifter community, from one gay pairing to the next.  If you are looking for heavy angst, truly evil bad guys, layered plot, hot sex, or deep meaning from your books, move on.  This is not your series.  If you want warmth, romance, laughter, interesting characters, deep friendships, and a happy ending, these are perfect for you.  These are like the cozy of paranormal romance.  Perfect for when you’ve had a rough day and you just want to see somebody happy.

So, on that topic, being novellas they are also a great length to finish in a night, however, I feel like they could have benefited from some length and heftier plot lines.  But you sit down, read one, and it’s all sunshine and happiness, so it gives you what it offers.

I actually read these books backwards, so the first one was the last one I read.  By Denying Fate I knew the world and the characters.  Really, each can easily be read as a standalone (but reading them in order is probably better).  I had no problem understanding the world Dado had developed.

These are not steamy, and it fits the sweet, innocent nature of the series.  These stories are ‘finding mates’ stories and have to do more with love and connection than passion and sex.

 

 

Denying Fate

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella (83 pages)

Max knows that Christian is his destined mate, which is a big thing, to find your mate.  But Christian denies him.  Max shines with a very large personality, and he’s a man who goes after what he wants, damn the consequences.  He isn’t some ‘fall by the wayside and wait for the world to hand him what he wants’ sad little waif.  Oh no, he works for his desires, and I appreciated that about him.

To me, Christian wasn’t as fleshed out as Max and his best friend Seth, and felt distant.  I didn’t quite warm to him like I did the others.  But Christian totally pulls through once he’s accepted his place in the world, as Max’s mate.

We don’t get to see the claiming, and even if the sex was fade to black (no sex in these stories, and I’m totally fine with that) I would have liked to see them commit to each other with the claim scene.  That’s one of those sweet/dynamic/important scenes I like to have fleshed out in a story.


 

 

Embracing Fate

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella (91 pages)

Seth and Max are best friends, but since Max found his mate, Seth has been living on his own.  Then a new neighbor, Jack, moves in, and Seth’s wolf does interesting things when he hears Jack’s voice.

It’s a delightfully cute story.  Seth is a kind, shy guy with a self-esteem issue and never expects to find his mate.  He’s a master chef, too, with a good business, so why the low self-esteem, I’m not sure.  His best friend is boisterous and outgoing and the two balance each other very well.

One of the delights of Embracing is the banter between Seth and Max and the humor tied to their deep appreciation and affection for each other.  It’s all ribbing all the time, and Max doesn’t really seem to have an off button, but it’s fun to read and had me laughing out loud several times.  So, Seth decides to pretend to be Max’s unruly pet and the hijinks unfolding from that were fun and light-hearted.  There’s the pregnancy lie that keeps on giving (poor Zeus) and Seth’s rotating dog name.

The work is short, so there are certainly scenes I wish I could have read, like seeing Jack’s reaction when Seth willingly shifts for him.  I wanted to see that!!


 

 

Fearing Fate

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella (71 pages)

A very sweet paranormal romance that delivers a wonderful HEA and warm feelings.  Toren gave my heart a squeeze, and I just wanted to comfort the guy.  And Zeus was solid and kind and dedicated, all my favorite things!

Zeus has watched his closest family and friends all find mates.  He’s big and strong and the beta of the pack and seems fine to just protect everyone.  Then a stranger shows up and his instincts kick in.

Zeus is wonderful.  It’s nice to see him fleshed out in this story, especially after how he reacted to the pregnancy lie in book 2.  He’s a well-developed character that fans of paranormal romance will adore.  He’s a huge and kind man, that soothes babies and fosters orphaned dogs.  He looks out for his people and puts up with his friends.  Toren, even though his back is to the wall, still wants to do the right thing.  These two are perfect for each other.

The mystery with Toren and being a shifter was great, and I wanted to sink into it.  It’s a shame this is a novella because I feel there were a lot of ‘missing’ scenes and moments that could be fleshed out.  I really wanted to be there when Toren shifted for the first time (!!!) and see them work through that.  And the story suffered from a bit of repetition and I couldn’t help but wonder why Zeus didn’t just confront Toren the minute he found him instead of drawing out the stalking-plot that seemed unnecessary.

But even with these slight flaws I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the humor, the world, and the romance.   There’re enough loose threads to suggest a sequel (like who is looking for the kids!) so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for those.

 

Gay Fantasy Book Reviews


On a wild hair, I’ve opened myself up to book reviews! Of the gay fantasy kind (though, I’ll take horror, scifi and detective stories as well.)

I’m not a super fast reader so I’m going to start with one a month and see where I go from there. I totally take on the rule that if I am not engaged in the first three or so chapters, I’m skipping it. Sorry! But life is short and there are a lot of books out there.

And I have another rule, I can’t know you. Sorry about that, too, but I feel friendships are more important that reviews.

Review Policy

So, send your gay genre fiction my way and see if we’re a match.