Title: To The Bone
Author: Erin O’Quinn
Publisher: Amber Allure
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
The time is 1923, and the place is a fantasy city in Ireland. Two unlikely men have formed a partnership: good-natured Michael, who keeps a serious secret, and sulky Simon, who has plenty of reasons to be angry at the world. Michael has stalked the standoffish Simon from the beginning, and Simon has consistently rebuffed him…yet not enough for Michael to give up a dedicated pursuit of the handsome investigator.
As private eyes, the men have a case to solve: to find more than a score of stolen paintings, and especially one small valuable work of art worth more than all the others. But the case grows more complex the deeper they look into it. Soon Michael and Simon find themselves searching not just for a thief, but for a city-wide ring of criminals. And the closer they get to the paintings, the closer they find themselves to a killer.
Into this mix steps a man named Moshe–a pesky, secretive, nosy man who is nevertheless a brilliant investigator himself. He gives both the men fits, burrowing like a tick into their very private affairs, so close they have a hard time evading him.
Can the investigators solve a series of crimes, take care of the interfering Moshe, and drive their own intense relationship all the way to the bone?
So, the ever-resistant Simon Hart and the ever-horny Michael McCrae (Gaelic for “my heart,” BTW) are back.
Maybe for the last time? And, that would be fine, because this third volume of Erin O’Quinn’s Gaslight Mysteries series makes a lovely triad, a three-part epic that, bizarrely enough, only lasts a fortnight. (That’s two weeks, give or take, in American.)
Once again the action picks up a scant twenty-four hours (more or less) after the denouement of the previous book. These poor guys get no rest. If they’d only actually sleep, they might get some rest. Just saying.
What I continue to enjoy in this series is the fact that it is interesting and well written in spite of (because of?) the fact that the entire plot is aquiver with lust and need and sexual frustration and slam-bam-thank-you-dear-man moments. For all of that the physical and emotional attraction between the two men is the life-blood of the plot. For all that I am less interested in sex in my reading than ever I was, it seems kind of essential in this series.
The reason this constant sexual thrumming doesn’t tick me off is that O’Quinn has created two characters that are vivid, engaging, sympathetic, and intensely romantic, each in his distinct way. It is Simon and Michael’s ongoing discovery of each other—of what they must do to forge something together—that keeps the emotional track of this multi-faceted narrative strong, pushing the rest of the plot forward.
Thinking, based on the end of the last book, that we’ve tied things up, we discover immediately that we haven’t. It’s a whole new mess, and indeed an even more interesting mess than before. There are two sort of major secrets, or perhaps new pieces of information, that are revealed to the reader in the course of this book. Not exactly game-changers, but certainly facts that force us (and both of our handsome heroes) to reevaluate everything we thought we understood.
I confess, the gorgeous and elegant Simon Hart’s character did start to annoy me; such resistance in the face of romance is such a macho guy thing. I kept wanting to smack him and say “just get the f**k over it, would you?”(OK, and again, it IS Ireland and it IS 1923.) It’s just that I am so completely in love with Michael McCrae that I can’t fully embrace Simon’s paranoid ego-tripping. Or, maybe I can. Once, you know, the, um, thing happens.
There is lots of lovely talk to set the place, and the fictional city of Dun Linden, Ireland, is one of the most charmingly realistic fantasies I’ve ever read. I keep wanting to Google it—before I remember that O’ Quinn made it all up. Plus there are all sorts of details about clubs and pubs and class structure and blue-collar crime (and white-collar crime) and mansions and automobiles—it’s just fun to read (very much in the way of Tamara Allen’s marvelous period tales set in New York).
Interestingly, the ideal way to approach this series would be to read one or two very different books in between each volume. Because the action picks up immediately after the ending in each new book, and we get lots of refreshers, one can afford to take time between volumes and let them jell.
In any case, do read them, if you’re into this stuff and can imagine Michael’s Irish accent. Delicious.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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