It’s a Sin by Steve Burford

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: “He is a talented and very promising young policeman. Make no mistakes, he deserves the promotion.”

But when gay Detective Sergeant Dave Lyon is assigned to Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill’s team as part of the Service’s ‘positive discrimination policy’, no-one at Foregate Street Station is happy. And that includes Summerskill and Lyon.

Mutual suspicion and mistrust must be shelved however, when a young man’s beaten body is found on a canal tow path, and a dead-end case of ‘happy slapping’ unexpectedly turns into a murder investigation.

Why would someone want to kill middle class arts student Jonathan Williams? And how is his death linked to that of rent boy and would be ‘adult’ film star Sean?

As Summerskill and Lyon’s investigations proceed, the newly-promoted detectives begin to untangle a web of connections, false assumptions and sheer prejudices that force them both to question closely not just their relationship with each other but with the rest of their colleagues at Foregate Street Station and with the Police Service as a whole.

The Review

It’s a Sin by Steve Burford is the first book in the Summerskill and Lyon series. I really enjoyed this one. I read it over the course of two nights while in bed. Cause that’s how I like my murder mysteries. What you get in book one of this series is an introduction into who Summerskill, Lyon, the inner workings of the Foregate Street Police Station, and the communities surround them. I feel like at this point you should know there isn’t much romance in this. It’s more focused on developing the characters and solving the crime. I’d love to get to see some steamy scenes with Sergeant Dave Lyon though. I have a feeling he’s a bit of a stunner.

Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill has just been promoted, but she doesn’t get to have the Sergeant she was expecting. Instead she gets Dave Lyon, who is completely new to the area and openly gay (Which I was super excited about and cackled at some of the things he did). You don’t get many cop novels with openly gay characters who don’t need to be saved or coddled. Sergeant Lyon didn’t need coddling.

Their first assignment was ‘happy slapping’ – which I had no idea what that meant but figured it out pretty quick. A random person/persons jumps another and then goes on about their way. What was supposed to be an easy case turned into something much more difficult, multiple murders of gay men along a canal.

What I liked about Claire and Dave was the fact that neither of them were perfect. They had their moments of anger, frustration and misunderstanding. But they pushed each other to figure out what was really happening.  I’m on a bit of a mystery kick and just enjoying what I’ve read so I didn’t quite figure out who the killer was until the last minute. It was unexpected and it was kind of neat that I was kept guess the entire time.

I’m looking forward to getting to know more about Claire and Dave. My inner romance reader is hoping for Dave to get some action but I liked this enough that I don’t have to have that.

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Double Dutch Courage by Helena Stone

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Ronan Collins has spent most of his life in Dublin hiding who he really is. Coming out would hurt his mother, and Ronan isn’t going to be the second gay man to do that. When he receives news the father he has never known has died, leaving him both a house and a business in Amsterdam, he jumps on the opportunity to get to know the man who fathered him and to discover what he’s been denying himself for years.

Lucas Brandt thought he had it all when Paul Kelly offered him a job and rooms to live in. With Paul deceased he fears he may be about to lose both. He didn’t even know Paul had a son, and now this stranger is on his way from Dublin to pull the rug out from under Lucas’s feet.

The two men don’t expect to like each other, never mind feel attraction. With numerous reasons why hooking up would be a bad idea, why does giving in feel so much better? And is Ronan’s back story really as he’s always imagined it to be?

The Review

Amsterdam represents an opportunity Ronan never thought he would have. He’d get to know who his father was and he’s experience life away from his mother and a small town. He doesn’t expect the attraction to his father’s business partner and tenant, Lucas.

What I enjoyed about this was how much I could relate to Ronan. You live in the boundaries you think are set out for you. You do what you expect your parents expect of you. Ronan not only uses his time in Amsterdam to figure out his professional future but he starts to discover who he truly is.

The pacing of Ronan and Lucas’s romance and attraction is well done. It’s not a fast jump in to a relationship. There was an ebb and flow to it. I liked the internal thought process that was included for both characters. When something happened, Ronan thought it out to exhaustion. When you’re new and experiencing all these situations at a later age, you do that. Lucas weighed all variations of what could happen with Ronan. Would this be okay or would pursuing a romantic relationship with his business partner end up in heartache?

There were a few grammatical mistakes here and there. There was some terminology that felt a bit dated, which it could have been done on purpose. It didn’t take away from Ronan and Lucas’s story though. I read it in a couple of hours and it left me happy and ready to read more by Helena Stones.

This is a sweet, moving story and I enjoyed it every bit.

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