Tomorrow, it’s National Tea Day, so I thought we’d do some UK books for this month’s #WhatToReadWednesday. So grab a cup (I’ll pour coffee in mine, but we can pretend it’s tea) and let’s cherish the beautiful word choices and the spelling of British English. I bloody love it.
Playing Chicken: A St Dwynwen’s Day Short Story
First out is Playing Chicken by A.L. Lester because other than lovely British things, it also has chickens – all books should have chickens. It’s short, and it’s cute!
Marc returns home from London to his isolated Welsh cottage for good, having found his ex boyfriend shagging someone else in their bed. Who’s the thin, freezing cold man with the bruised face he finds in his barn? Will the tenuous connection between them grow, or fade away?
A 9,000 word short story in the Reworked Celtic Myths series, to mark the Welsh St Valentine’s Day, St Dwynwen’s Day, the 25th of January. With chickens. A contemporary gay romance.
This Is Not a Love Story
This is Not a Love Story was the first book I read by Suki Fleet, I’ve read several since then, and you really should check them out if you haven’t. This is a pretty grim YA story well worth reading.
When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.
Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.
This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).
The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings
I love the Black and Blue stories by Lily Morton. Ghosts! Ghosts are awesome, and I love both Blue and Levi.
Levi Black is at a crossroads. After suffering a loss and breaking up a long-term relationship, he’s looking for a change. When he receives the news he’s inherited a house in York, he seizes the opportunity to begin a new chapter in his life.
However, when he gets there, he finds a house that has never kept its occupants for very long. Either through death or disinclination, no one stays there, and after a few days of living in the place, Levi can understand why. Strange noises can be heard at all hours of the day and night, and disturbing and scary things begin to happen to him. He never believed in ghosts before, but when events take a sinister turn, he knows he must look for help. He finds it in the unlikely form of the blue-haired leader of a ghost tour.
Blue Billings is edgy, beautiful, and lost. Utterly lost. He conceals so many secrets that some days it’s a miracle he remembers his own name. He knows that he should ignore Levi because he threatens the tenuous grip Blue has on survival. But there’s something about the kind-eyed man that draws Blue to him. Something that demands he stay and fight for him when he would normally run in the opposite direction.
As the two men investigate the shocking truth behind Levi’s house, they also discover a deep connection that defies the short length of time they’ve known each other. But when events escalate and his life is on the line, Levi has to wonder if it was wise to trust the Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings.
A Frost of Cares
And while we’re on the topic of ghosts… Amy Rae Durreson has some awesome ghosts stories, and awesome other stories too. I haven’t read them all, but there hasn’t been a single one I haven’t loved.
A Winter Ghost Story
Looking for a fresh start, historian Luke Alcott takes on a job cataloguing the archives in an old army training centre. Eelmoor Hall is an old house on a lonely heath and the only other living soul on site is Sergeant Jay McBride, the surly caretaker. But Luke can’t escape the feeling he’s being watched, and as the halls echo with invisible footsteps and his sleep is haunted by nightmares, he realises that he and Jay aren’t alone in this house.
The Mistletoe Bride has been trapped here a very long time. She’s cold, angry, and desperate. And she has no intention of letting Luke leave until he’s found her—or joined her in death. As the snow begins to fall, Luke and Jay must risk all to save each other from this vengeful ghost.
Every Move He Makes
Up for a little mystery? Every Move He Makes by Barbara Elsborg is about a rockstar and a MI6 agent. There’s some action to be had with the Russian mafia and such.
Keeping an eye on his charge isn’t easy. Keeping his hands off? Impossible…
It took attending his own funeral to force Logan to accept a new life as an undercover MI6 agent. That doesn’t make his latest assignment any less aggravating. Babysitting a Russian pop star with delusions that someone’s trying to kill him. Other than an inexplicable attraction Logan ruthlessly suppresses, he couldn’t have less in common with the irritating, arrogant rich kid. He’s even prepared to walk away-until very real bullets start flying.
After his mother’s death, Zak Kochenkov’s life unravels in an impenetrable haze of grief, drugs and alcohol-until one bodyguard candidate stands out. Except his hopes of having some fun with that guard’s body evaporate when he realizes Logan is buttoned up tighter than a clam. The first thing Logan learns is that his charge won’t do as he’s told. And there’s some secret behind his haunted eyes that shakes Logan’s resolve to keep him at arm’s length. Because he knows if he lets passion close his eyes, that’s when danger will find them both…
Warning: Contains a sexy bodyguard with a tortured past, and a spoiled rock star with a tortured conscience. Stir (don’t shake), and prepare for spontaneous combustion
I don’t read a lot of BDSM books, but Duck! by Kim Dare is one I recommend. It has bird shifters!
Raised among humans, Ori Jones only discovered he was an avian shifter six months ago. Unable to complete a full shift until he reaches his avian maturity, he still can’t be sure of his exact species.
But with species comes rank, and rank is everything to the avians. When a partial shift allows the elders to announce that they believe Ori to be a rather ugly little duckling, he drops straight to the bottom rung of their hierarchy.
Life isn’t easy for Ori until he comes to the attention of a high ranking hawk shifter. Then the only question is, is Ori really a duck—and what will his new master think when the truth eventually comes out?
Please Note: This is the second edition of this book. It has been tweaked and re-edited, but the plot has not changed.
Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace!
You’re probably sick of me raving about Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! by Claire Davis and Al Stewart, but I love this book. It made me laugh and it made me cry.
First love – coming of age – family – acceptance
When Charlie was eight years old, his mum bought him a microscope for his birthday. Since then, he’s known how he wants to spend his life. There have been trials, and challenges, but now – finally – the day is here for him to start college with his lifelong friend Anthony Pace.
Anthony is a red-haired force of nature. He writes poetry about their enemies and eagerly participates in all Charlie’s science experiments without understanding a word. Every morning, he waits at the end of their street so they can get the bus together.
But things are changing.
Families are important, and complex. Charlie’s mum hasn’t been well, and his relationship with Anthony begins to shine like a different star in the sky.
Can everything come together in this explosion of physics and chemicals that Charlie calls life? Will Anthony Pace ever share his poems with the world, and can the Chihuahua, Princess Arabella, ever learn to stop licking?
I had a hard time deciding which of Josephine Myles’s books I was gonna pick, Boats in the Night has canal boats, and that’s something I associate with the UK, but I best remember the plot in Junk, so I’ll go with it. Jasper is a hoarder and needs help, and Lewis is the man for the job.
Letting go is the first step to healing…or bringing it all crashing down.
When an avalanche of books cuts off access to his living room, university librarian Jasper Richardson can no longer ignore the truth. His ever-growing piles of books, magazines and newspapers can no longer be classified as a “collection”. It’s a hoard, and he needs professional help.
Professional clutter clearer and counselor Lewis Miller thinks he’s seen it all, but even he has to admit he’s shocked. Not so much by the state of Jasper’s house, but by the level of attraction he still feels for the sexy bookworm he remembers from school.
What a shame that Lewis’s ethical code forbids relationships with clients. As Jasper makes slow but steady progress, though, the magnetic pull between them is so strong even Lewis is having trouble convincing himself it’s a temporary emotional attachment arising from the therapeutic process.
Jasper longs to prove to Lewis that this is the real deal. But first he’ll have to lay bare the root of his hoarding problem…and reveal the dark secret hidden behind his walls of books.
Contains a level-headed counselor with a secret addiction, a bespectacled geek with a sweet tooth, a killer “to-be-read” pile, embarrassing parents, a van called Alice, and deliciously British slang.
Harper Fox has a lot of good books. I picked Driftwood because of Belle, the dog LOL I love how the surroundings are described in this one.
What the tide washes in, the past can sweep away.
All Dr. Tom Penrose wants is his old life back. He’s home in Cornwall after a hellish tour of duty in Afghanistan, but while the village is the same, he isn’t. His grip on his control is fragile, and it slips dangerously when Flynn Summers explodes into his life. The vision in tight neoprene nearly wipes them both out in a surfing mishaps and shatters Tom’s lonely peace.
Flynn is a crash-and-burn in progress, one of only two survivors of a devastating rescue helicopter crash that killed his crew. His carefree charm is merely a cover for the messed-up soul within. The sparks between him and Tom are the first light he’s seen in a long, dark tunnel of self-recrimination, which includes living in sexual thrall to fellow crash survivor and former co-pilot, Robert.
As their attraction burns through spring and into summer, Tom must confront not only his own shadows, but Flynn’s before the past rises up to swallow his lover whole.
Warning Contains explicit m/m sex, hot helicopter pilots and skin-tight wetsuits. Also, in true British tradition, a tiny bit of joystick innuendo.
Think of England
K.J. Charles, I went with Think of England because we’re gonna lie back and think of England today *wink* but I haven’t read anything she’s written that doesn’t make me think of England, so any title will do.
Lie back and think of England…
England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.
Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.
As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.
As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…
J.L. Merrow also has a lot of great books, but I have a soft spot for Tom, so I wouldn’t mind if he made me a cuppa.
Some things are better left hidden….
Tom Paretski’s not just a plumber with a dodgy hip courtesy of a schoolboy accident. He also has a sixth sense for finding hidden things. Called in by the police to help locate a body near Brock’s Hollow, he’s staggered to encounter Phil Morrison, his old school crush—and the closeted bully whose actions contributed to Tom’s accident.
Phil’s all grown up now, and Tom’s unwilling attraction to him is back with a vengeance. Phil’s now openly gay—and what’s more, he’s interested in Tom’s personal charms as well as his psychic talents. As a private investigator called in by the dead woman’s parents, Phil is sceptical about Tom’s unusual gift, but nevertheless quick to spot its potential to aid him in his work.
The further they go with the investigation, the less they can ignore their shared past, and the more the pressure and the heat build between them. But Tom isn’t certain he wants to know the secrets he’s helping to uncover, while there’s a murderer on the loose who won’t hesitate to kill again—and this uneasy couple is moving right into his sights.
Twisted Pretty Things
Twisted Pretty Things by Ariana Nash is my most recent British read, and I told myself that I wasn’t going to continue the series because I wasn’t that great a fan of Hollywood, and I wanted Dom to get together with Kempthorne instead. But I’ve read some reviews over at Goodreads, and maybe I need to continue…
Something wicked is moving in the shadows of London…
In the underground world of glitzy illegal auctions, fast cars, and stolen magical artifacts, John “Dom” Domenici knows he’s out of his depth. But he needs the job at Kempthorne & Co like he needs to breathe. The alternative—going back to the organized crime gangs of London’s East End—is unthinkable.
So when Alexander Kempthorne, boss of Kempthorne & Co Artifact Retrieval Agency, wants him on a special case to track down an illegal artifact dealer, Dom can’t say no.
It shouldn’t matter that Kempthorne’s world is full of deadly secrets. It shouldn’t matter that the billionaire is sexy as sin, and it really shouldn’t matter how there’s an American agent stalking Dom, an American who knows more than he should about Dom’s case, including the real reason Alexander Kempthorne hired Dom.
The only thing that really matters to Dom is solving the case and finding the artifact dealer. Because there are worse things in London than a conflicted billionaire and a trigger-happy American. Something wicked is stalking London’s streets, and if Dom doesn’t stop it, its shadows will rise and consume them all.
Twisted Pretty Things is the first book in the all-new Shadows of London MM urban fantasy series. Action, mystery, and MM romance combine in this fast-paced adventure from the author who brought you the award-winning Silk & Steel series and the best-selling Prince’s Assassin series. Coming August 2021.
Triggering content: mention of past mental and physical abuse.
Please note the Shadows of London series is set in London and the characters are all British (so is the author). Although the series has been edited in US English for the larger US market, to include US spelling and grammar, many English slang words and spelling remain as part of the character of the work.
So there’s some glorious Britishness for you! I’m sure I’ve failed to add a lot of great books, but these were the ones coming to mind at the time of writing. I’ll probably beat myself up later on when I think of more books I’d have wanted to include, but that’s life.