Taking Stock in the NYT

I am so happy this morning that I have been doing more good-crying. Taking Stock has a wonderful write-up by Olivia Waite in the New York Times Book Review today. In case you don’t have a subscription or are over your free reads this month, she says…

Book cover of Taking Stock
Taking Stock

…small-town found-family solace is also the bedrock of our fourth and final romance, TAKING STOCK (JMS Books, 280 pp., e-book, $3.99), a queer 1970s romance by A. L. Lester set in rural England. Fans of Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles will find this book quieter but no less pleasing. Phil is a stockbroker in disgrace after his ex-boyfriend frames him for insider trading; when he retreats to a country cottage he is soon smitten by Laurie, a former runaway turned farmer just beginning to put his life together after a stroke. It’s rare to see chronic disability handled with such precision in romance — the author’s own experience certainly informs the text — and this book is open about how Laurie’s frustration makes him vulnerable as he relearns the limits of his body’s capabilities. But it is no savior narrative: Phil’s own past has enough pain in it that it feels like any rescuing is entirely mutual. It’s a delicate story, clearly told. It’s restrained but earnest; the focus on farm life (spring-fed ponds and sheep shearing!), and on rebuilding and rebirth, offers an earthy kind of hope, for whenever you feel like the world is falling to pieces around you.

I can’t really articulate how chuffed I am by this. The other three books Olivia reviews are by authors I admire immensely and it’s wonderful, and rather shocking, to be written about on the same page as both them and Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought Taking Stock. I really hope you enjoy it.

non-wolf queer shifters

Today I’ve got five of my favourite non-standard shifter stories for you. I’m partial to an occasional were-person story but I’m a hard no for mpreg and most kinds of alpha/beta/omega dynamics. Instead, these are five quirky, sweet recommendations for you that I really rate.

Werecockroach by Polenth Blake

Rin moves into a new flat on the day the aliens arrive. Their new flatmates are laid-back Sanjay and conspiracy theorist Pete. It doesn’t take long to notice some oddities about the pair, like hoarding cardboard and hissing at people when they’re angry. Something strange is going on, but it’s not all due to the aliens.

Gay werecockroaches. What more could you want in a story? I loved this. Oh, and aliens. Who wear hats.

Sharing a Pond by Alex Whitehall

Brent shows up on Corey and Shane’s doorstep in the dead of winter needing a place to stay—and hopeful his mates will provide it, and not mind he’s a frog shifter.

Trans polyamorous frog shifters for the win. This book was just what I needed the day I read it, charming, touching and funny, with a bit of angst. The characters communicate, there’s explicit negotiation of consent and a lovely happy ending.

Love, Marriage and a Baby Carriage by C. S. Poe

WaddleCon is the go-to event of the year when looking for your life partner, but Theodore isn’t comfortable with the game they’ve turned dating into, nor does the convention provide for the gay community.

I didn’t know I needed penguin shifters in my life until I read this book. And now I do. It’s a short sweet story that leaves a smile.

Elevator Pitch by Ofelia Grand

Bjorn Ritter only wants one thing—to live his life away from nosey, demanding bears. And Cecil Baxter might be a bat, but he grew up away from shifter communities and he’s doing his best to continue to keep his distance.

A really sweet, funny story about two misfits finding love in a broken elevator.

9 Willow Street by Nell Iris

Heartbroken after the death of his beloved Nana, Hannes, the family outsider, finally allows himself to grieve. The legal battle over Nana’s quirky old house — the only place he’s ever felt accepted and loved — is over, and he moves in and finds a sense of peace. And a rabbit.

This is a short, sweet, fun and sexy read and there’s now a short, free sequel here!

Add your favourite non-wolf shifter stories in the comments or email me and I’ll append them!

H. L. Moore: Death’s Embrace

This morning I’ve got a fantastic new release for you, from H. L. Moore. It’s Soul of Ash, the sequel to Heart of Dust. I’ve been waiting for this second novel in the Death’s Embrace series pretty much since I read Heart of Dust in 2018. They are set in a wonderful, complex world with normalised queerness and an incredible slow-burn romance. I’ve got Soul of Ash on my Kobo for this evening and have pretty much told my family they’re on their own! I’ve embedded the preview thing from Amazon so you can read the first bit of each book.

Firstly, Heart of Dust (you definitely need to read this first)

“Doran had a problem, and it wasn’t that he’d been stabbed.”

Iole City is in turmoil. Doran Ó Seanáin, leader of the Black Lung Gang, is determined to bring the Lord Archon – Iole’s tyrannical ruler – down for his brutal treatment of the miners. But Doran has more to deal with than getting stabbed, a stalemate and city-wide lockdown that’s seeing his gang of ex-miners being slowly starved out of their base – his daughter Grace has turned against him, and the weight of his wife’s death two years prior haunts them both.

Things start to look up when he’s inexplicably drawn to Nathaniel Morgenstern, the apotheker with a mysterious past he owes his life to, but Doran is in way over his head. The fate of the mines hangs in the balance; the clock is ticking and the Archon is closing in. Doran’s plan to break the cycle may very well be his last.

Find and buy from Goodreads

Soul of Ash

You can run, but you will never be free.

Half a year after the events of Heart Of Dust, Doran Ó Seanáin now finds himself trapped between two worlds while belonging to neither. Held in contempt by the upper class for the turmoil he caused during Archon Bryson’s reign and resented by the miners for selling out, Leonora Darkwater’s bid to purchase the mines from the crown may be his salvation. But the offer is far more complicated than it appears, and the only person Doran trusts is the same man who threw his life into chaos.

Haunted by his past, held hostage by his debt to the Archon, and a slave to the poison that keeps him alive, atonement feels perpetually out of reach for Nathaniel Morgenstern. Too much damage has been done and too much has gone unsaid for time alone to heal the wounds between him and Doran.

Unfortunately, time is the one thing they don’t have as their lives collide once more. There are vipers in Arajon; the mines aren’t finished with Doran, and the sand in Nathaniel’s hourglass is running out.

Amazon : Kobo : Goodreads

H. L. Moore

H. L. Moore is an Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She is Jewish and of Middle Eastern (Egyptian) heritage, queer, and is an #OwnVoices writer. She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Her biggest literary influences are Adrian Tchaikovsky, Brandon Sanderson and C. S. Pacat. She has had two short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.

Find H. L. Moore: Website : Amazon : Goodreads : Facebook

reading roundup: august

I’ve had a real ‘head in a book’ month this August. Partly because it’s been the school holidays and quite frankly I’ve needed the distraction; and partly because I have found so many lovely things to read.

Mainly by Moonlight by Josh Lanyon

What do you do when you fall in love with someone who doesn’t know that you’re a magician? In Cosmo Saville’s case, you panic a bit and your friends do more harm than good trying to help you.

I have always been a huge Josh Lanyon fan and it’s great to see her on form again with this new series. I’m looking forward to the next book.


Sword Dance by A. J. Demas

I really love A. J. Demas’s not-quite-Classical-Europe world. Her protagonists are always beautifully drawn with a realistic complexity that makes them easy to like; and if you don’t like them, you understand why.

As usual, there is lots and lots of plot alongside the romance. First of a trilogy!


A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian

A lovely historical f/f novella that is part of Cat Sebastian’s Regency ‘Turner Series’.

Molly and Alice are both charming characters. We have met Molly before and although she’s a reformed from her career as a petty thief, she is still the same person we met previously. I am really pleased she gets a happy ending!


Why the Devil Stalks Death by L. J. Hayward

I really like this series. It’s full of wounded heroes and people who don’t communicate and sexual tension, which put it bang in the middle of my ballpark. I do like my romance with lots of plot!

One of the things that makes this a really engaging read is the timeline. We have alternating before/after chapters… and you aren’t quite sure what the before and the after are being built around when you start reading. I was irritated by this for about three chapters before getting completely sucked in and finishing it in one sitting. Hard recommend!


Quill Me Now by Jordan Castillo Price

I have only just discovered this series of novellas. It has a really interesting magic system based on writing your spells with special quill. This one was a freebie and I’ve now got the others on my TBR. It’s kind of paranormal cross with a cozy mystery, I guess?

I really liked it and I’m looking forward to finding out more about both how the magic works and the MCs adventures.


Stumptown Spirits by E. J. Russell

A contemporary paranormal romance, with wounded heroes (my favorite!) wrestling with both the supernatural and their own emotions.

I really like the folk-lore basis of this one, although I did get cross with Logan because honestly, wouldn’t it just be better to talk to your boyfriend instead of being all self-sacrificing and mysterious?

Nevertheless a five star read for me and I have just bought the sequel.


Spellbound by Allie Therin

Spellbound was on my TBR long before it came out, and it was certainly worth the wait. 1920’s New York is full of concealed magic. Our protagonists, Arthur and Rory, are both doing their best to keep their loved ones safe from it, initially without revealing what they know to each other.

I loved the historical setting- obviously the ’20s are my thing– and the love story weaves in and out of the paranormal mystery seamlessly. Another one that’s the first of a series to come!


And that’s it for this month. September kicks off to a start off with an interview with Kristen Noone next week!

reading roundup: July

I’ve been oxer-deep in reading this month and have seven books to share.


The Cricketer’s Arms, Garrick Jones

A gay romance/murder mystery set in 1950s Sydney. I loved this. I’ve probably said before that I think Garrick Jones’ historical detail is second to none. The combination of a murder mystery and romantic shenanigans is basically my ideal read. Hard recommend. I understand there is a sequel in the wind in the future.


Thrown to the Wolves, Charlie Adhara

The third in Charlie Adhara’s wolves series. Cooper finds out a lot more about wolf pack behaviour and Oliver Park’s slightly bonkers family. I have a complex relationship with shifter books – some I love and some don’t grab me at all. This trilogy falls in to the ‘love’ category!


Tournament of Shadows, S. A. Meade

I went looking for Tournament of Shadows because I met S. A. Meade at an Author Thing a couple of months ago.  Published in 2014, this ticks all my ‘historical detail’ boxes. Set in the mid-nineteenth century in what is now Uzbekistan, it follows two minor characters in the Great Game played between world powers during that period. It has gay romance, political intrigue and journeying through locations I knew nothing about and had to research. A definite re-read.


Hither Page, Cat Sebastian

Set just post-WW2 Hither Page features a shell-shocked country doctor and a spy who need to team up to solve a murder. Of course, they fall in love in the process. There is beautifully realized historical detail with vulnerable and emotionally wounded main protagonists and a richly sprinkling of well drawn supporting characters.  Also, lady assassins. *taps nose meaningfully*


Outbreak, Melissa Olson

This is the final book in the Nightshades trilogy which is a vampire power-struggle-cum-straight-romance with the FBI thrown in for good measure. Vampires have been hidden from humanity until very recently. Hector is still trying to manipulate both vampires and humans for his own nefarious, control-grabbing purposes and the Bureau of Preternatural Investigations is still trying to stop him. But the FBI are also investigating Lindy and Alex. It’s a really good end to the trilogy.


Rebellion, Naomi Aoki

Intricate historical detail about the Boxer uprising from Naomi Aoki in this gay romance set at the end of the nineteenth century in Singapore and China. Alfred falls in love with a Chinese soldier he meets in the public gardens. The tension in their love story is entwined with the rising of the political and eventually military tensions. Neither my historical period or my geographical area, I really, really enjoyed this. Recommend.


Owl and the Japanese Circus, Kristi Charish

The first in the Owl series. Owl is an archaeologist-thief in a world where magic is real and digging up ancient artifacts can get you killed. Obviously the authorities suppress all this knowledge from the general public. Owl doesn’t do supernatural jobs, but this time she gets sucked in to something that she can’t avoid. There are dragons, vampires and (straight) romance. I have got second one in the series on my TBR list but haven’t got to it yet. I thought this was brilliant – really good world-building.


That’s all! Next week, an interview with Nell Iris.