Secrets and High Spirits, from Lou Harper (Spirits #4)

Hello, there! Yes, this is a book review, it is not a Halloween prank! =O (I’m very pleased with myself for managing to read and review this book at such a time of the year and without delays to its release date ~aka. TODAY, yay!~). My dissertation is overall ready and I’m two weeks early, so I can give myself the pleasure of writing some late reviews, haha!

So, today’s book is Secrets and High Spirits, the fourth book on Lou Harper’s Spirits’ series, but they are kind of standalones, as I only read this one and understood it all without any problems. I have kindly received this through NetGalley and I am very thankful ❤

from my Instagram :)
from my Instagram 🙂

The Story

Teag and Bruce saw each other only once in their lives, but the experience was a mess: Bruce was irritated and was an ass with Teag and his friend. Since the episode, Teag hates Bruce and all his “type” of gay men: overly gym worked, all tattooed and cocky. Bruce, in the other hand, doesn’t understand why can’t Teag just accept an apology, so he is a bit indisposed with him too.

All was well, as they thought they would never see each other again… Until they meet again, evaluating the same place to buy and build a bar – a shared dream they later discover to possess. Bruce soon sees a good opportunity on the rise: Teag was a hell of a showman and Bruce was better off administrating bureaucratic stuff. They were the perfect match to build a bar together, if only Teag could let go of their first encounter… And maybe accept the maddening and undeniable sex tension between them.

Soon enough, both men discover that the place they were planning to build their bar on had a bizarre history and that even weirder things started to happen when no one was around. Was it just a big joke on top of the supposed haunted place’s reputation or, despite their personal problems, could Teag and Bruce be dealing with a real ghost…?

The Analysis

Just remembering that those were my impressions and opinion as a reader 🙂

I make no secret that I really love gay romances, a lot. Specially a men x men one, like this one. I requested it on NetGalley because the blurb put my head (and other parts *coffs*) on fire with curiosity. I have even mentioned before how I love when the characters passions are born out of hate: man, it gets darn strong and hot, omg. Anyway, I guess I expected too much from the book. The plot had so much potential that I didn’t even noticed how short the ebook was (my edition was 137 pages long). It was a good book, amusing and all, but I got disappointed at its wasted potential. Harper had such a brilliant idea on her hands and I felt it all was so rushed, you know? And there were another small things that bothered me, but all in due time. It is not a bad book, but as a whole work, it received three stars.

The narrative had a very good pace – not overly fast, but it didn’t dwelled on needless points of the plot. It was made on third person, alternating Teag and Bruce’s point of view. This is my favorite kind of narrative, overall, because it usually avoids loose ends. Of course that, sometimes, it happens and it has happened here as well, but as this book is part of a series, I didn’t take off stars because of that. Maybe Harper is planning on writing another volume, maybe some of the missing info I would get reading the series since book one, like I should have (oops!), I don’t know, so Harper is safe here, haha! One thing that really bothered me on the narrative was the narrator’s use of idiomatic expressions. I mean, it is okay for me if the character, on his speech or thought, say things like “helluva”, but is not ok when it is the third person narrator doing so. It made the book vulgar on my conception. The beginning is worse; as Harper dives into the story, she slowly eases the use of this kind of word and similar expressions – for which I was very grateful. I also would like to make it clear that I’m ok with swearing and low class words, for say, but not from the third person narrator. I think Harper tried to make the text more palatable, but I don’t think it was a good way to try that 😦

The plot was my biggest disappointment. It had SO MUCH FREAKING POTENTIAL. Harper had an awesome idea for a contemporary gay romance, she brought to light so many things that need to be discussed in society, like the prejudice – Teag is a gay man that is made purely of prejudices against everything and everybody, for example – but it went too fast. It seemed like she was so worried about finishing the book that she forgot to savor the act of writing it. I like her descriptions, but they were a bit bipolar: I spent half of the book without knowing how Teag looked like, but I could draw Bruce, as he was described in details all the time (and I’m a terrible artist, haha!). This is applicable also on scenario descriptions. I understand that this is the fourth book in a series, but it is always good to give a brief explanation of things on each new book, as we never know which nut piece can catch the train when it is already running (like I did, haha!). Another point is the paranormal element of the book: if you ask me, there is none. I mean, there is a ghost, but it being and not being there is the same thing thanks to the plot development and that’s a shame. It gets obvious too soon that the ghost has nothing to do with the mystery going on at the bar and the characters say so many times during the story. A pity.

Now, I really liked how Harper can build a character. They all have such a real presence that you don’t forget not even the secondary ones. It was amazing, really. Bruce, for example, became another bookish boyfriend for me (I will need to create a boyish alter ego for myself one of these days, as I have so many gay bookish boyfriends, omg), even with his flaws. Sometimes, I could even picture Teag’s lectures, it was so funny, haha! And his sister, Helen, is a genius. There is this scene on the book that she admits messing up Teag’s toys when they were kids just to see how big would be his scandal, haha! Priceless ❤

I also feel the need of commenting the sex scenes on the book. Bruce and Teag’s attraction is strong, palpable, real, so I expected a book filled with hot sex scenes. Eh, no. I can’t complain about the actual scenes, but they were so few that my heart sank. Teag and Bruce had so much chemistry on the bed, it was a shame not exploring this further – and Harper can do a sex scene, all right! *breathless*

So, some of the strong points on the book are the character constructions and the fact that it is a part of a series, so I can now meet the other couples that are mentioned on this volume, haha! Oh, and the sex scenes, when they are there ❤

Overall, I can’t complain about this book, as it was a pleasant pastime on the two days that took me to finish it – I’m still focusing on the damn dissertation, so I’m not fully back on pleasure reading yet, but life is slowly going back to normal, THANK GOD.

3star

That’s it, guys! Please, don’t cry, another reviews are coming, haha! Thanks for reading and stay strong ❤

assinatura

By the way, here’s a list with all my gay book reviews!

Dangerous Spirits, from Jordan L. Hawk (Spirits #2)

Hello! This week the blog is full of reviews because a great will power made me finish three books in a week (with college and dissertation to do). Now I’m trying to catch up with myself to review all those marvelous books, haha! Today I’ll talk about Dangerous Spirits, second volume of the Spirits series, by Jordan L. Hawk ❤ I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review and the book is out today! I’ll leave some links in the end of the review, where you can check out Dangerous Spirits 😀 I’ve read the first one earlier this year, before start blogging (I started on May, it’s been 5 months already?! =O), so I apologize for the lack of review. I’ll try to re-read the book in December, after my graduation, and then I’ll have a review, haha! Anyway, I had loved Restless Spirits and you can imagine my happiness when I learned that the book would have a sequel and when Jordan sent it to me ❤ Thank you from the bottom of my bookish heart! But let’s go to the story 😀

from my Instagram :)
from my Instagram 🙂

Story

 

Recently moved from New York to Baltimore, Vincent Night couldn’t be happier with his life beside his lover, Henry Strauss. After all the adventures on Reyhome Castle, the medium and the scientist united themselves on business as well and opened a little shop specialized on extinguishing ghosts and spirits, using both Vincent’s powers as a medium and Henry’s inventions as a scientist. Lizzie, an old friend and business partner of Vincent, also entered the partnership and helped them with her own gift and the three of them counted too with the inventions of Henry’s cousin, Jo. As in any business start, things were slowly and the money was scarce, but all four were very optimistic that a presentation that Henry would do at the Psychic Society would change things and bring in more clients.

Henry was the most anxious one in the party, as Vincent never hid how little he thought of the society and, besides making everyone’s lives more comfortable, Henry would be able to prove his lover wrong. Unfortunately, even after relating their findings and experiences at Reyhome Castle, the society discredits Henry’s work and bans him from their meetings. When Henry was going to deliver the bad news for Vincent, in an impulse, he lies and says that the presentation was a huge success, and knowing all the efforts that his lover and Lizzie had to move in to Baltimore, he loses courage to tell the truth and misses his opportunity.

Meanwhile, Vincent and Lizzie’s old master best friend, Sylvester Ortensi, summons them to help him in a complex case with a powerful ghost that is scaring a whole little town called Devil’s Walk (haha). Henry insists in accompanying them, together with his cousin Jo, but doesn’t feel confident anymore to use his inventions along with Vincent and Lizzie’s gifts to catch the said ghost; after all, if not even the Psych Society believed him, why would Vincent and Lizzie?

Between several twists and misunderstandings, Henry and Vincent will have to make a choice: will they allow white lies to drive them apart? Will their love be stronger than social intrigues and an angry ghost?

Dangerous Spirits picks up Henry and Vincent’s life after we last saw them on Restless Spirtis, so I highly recommend that you read the first book before giving this one a go 🙂

Analysis

 

Just remembering that those were my impressions and opinion as a reader 🙂

 

I don’t even try to mask how much I love LGBT books, especially if it’s a male/male couple in the 19th century ❤ I’m not familiar with Hawk’s other works, but I love Spirits and I can’t promise an impartial review, haha! Sorry.

I loved this book. It’s a very short one (my pdf file had 171 pages) and you can read it on one day easily – more precisely, in 4 hours while doing your house work #truestory 😉 From beginning to end, I was stuck, needing to know what in hell was happening on that town, without knowing it I could trust Sylvester of it my sixth female sense was right, fangirling over Henry and Vincent… This book was a roller coaster for me because it left me breathless and with my heart on my mouth in every. Single. Page. That’s why 5 stars

The narrative was third person, but always following either Henry or Vincent’s perspective. At the same time that this technique gave an air of mystery and covered most of what was happening at the Devil’s Walk, it left some holes in the plot and simplified it in a bad way. I wish there was another book coming on the series (please, Jordan, please!) to fix these holes. I also think that it could have been super cool to have a prologue or epilogue showing a little how the life of the person that became the ghost was before her death, to bind things up and leave an air of romantic decadency.

But this is a particular of me, as since I was little, I always thought that the past was fascinating, especially if I could feel it on a place or object. ~pausing the review for major meditation~ I don’t know why, but I always felt attracted, mesmerized by the past. Imagining how people’s life used to be, how it went with their intimacy, their histories, their pains, their joys… There’s an unexplainable beauty on what used to be, in the old, in the decadent, in the forgotten. Of course I like to know more about famous incidents and people, but to find the history of a common person in their time it’s priceless for me. The majority of the best days of my life is related to this series of serendipity. I can remember to this day how much I enjoyed to go down on my grandma’s basement (in an early 20th century house with eight bedrooms) and go through her governess’ stuff, hear their stories, see the black and white pictures… Another very warm memory dates from my late childhood, when my mom took me to a resting house for elderly people that our church helps to maintain. Several women went and I tagged along for some reason. I stood hours there listening to old people telling their histories, about their own childhood and life In general, how they ended up there. I liked that place so much that I actually whined when my mom said it was time to go – and I was 10 or 12 already, lol. Abandoned places also drive me crazy and I love being able to walk inside them. I admit that my experiences are very restrict, but I enter them always that I can. I become fearless of rats, insects, dirty, everything. For that little stolen moment, I wish I was a part of that place, that I could blend in with its walls and unveil its mysteries, its magic. To find out about the background story of the woman that turned into ghost awoke this macabre side of me, haha! I wanted to understand better how her life was, who was she, why things happened in the way they did. I guess this little side story awoke the journalist in me as well and left her disappointed, haha!

Anyway, that’s a very personal point. I didn’t take any stars on my rating for this, but I missed this element on both narrative and plot. The describing was fantastic and I need to highlight Hawk’s sex scenes. Henry and Vincent are madly in love with each other and this is reflected on the small things, even in the bedroom. The sweetness of each touch, the longing in their stares, everything is filled with love. Really, is beautiful ❤

Talking about the plot itself, as I commented, there were some holes thanks to the narrative style, but nothing serious that interfered on the reading or on the end of the main problem. I liked the plot; it was decent enough and highly interesting for me as a fan of the series. The interesting thing about Hawk is that she presents us to very modern problems even with the scenario being a supernatural historical romance. Henry and Vincent need to be honest with each other to work things up in their relationship, Vincent and Lizzie have a bound with Sylvester forged in gratitude, that leads them to a crucial conscious conflict, especially with Henry and Vincent’s forbidden love.

We are introduced to most of the main characters in the previous book in the series, for obvious reasons. I have a special place in my heart for Henry and Vincent; it’s amazing how they complete each other as a couple. Despite his tastes, Henry is very conventional, tidy and even too common in his own opinion, whereas Vincent is a highly stylish medium and descent of the North American Indians – which means awkward social situations thanks to North Americans’ prejudice in the 19th century. Lizzie is actually a man dressed in woman’s clothes, as she never felt a man, with a golden attitude. Despite her problems with Henry, as she thinks he is a bit silly, I love her! Jo, Henry’s cousin, is another complicated character. Jo is a black girl and, when her parents died, Henry was the only one in the family that took her in with open arms and didn’t treat her like a slave (and he was shut off from the family for that). Sylvester is a new character and I hated him since the beginning – not because of any technical details, I just didn’t like his attitude, haha! And I loved Rosanna, it was an automatic empathy and I still want to know more about her.

Some of the strongest points in the book are the mystery and the romance around the supernatural. Jordan always created verisimilar situations even when her characters are face to face with a ghost and that’s super cool 🙂

Overall, I loved Dangerous Spirits and highly recommend it if you like a good historical LBGT romance (this is a very underrated genre, so let’s keep trying to take them out of their dark corner at book stores!), mystery, ghosts and some steampunk elements – thanks to Henry’s inventions to catch ghosts 😉

5star

That’s it, guys! Thanks for reading and sorry for another mega reflection, haha! Keep your eyes open to the blog, the review for The Heir, by Kiera Cass, shall be out before Friday!

And, as promised, here’s the list of places where you can find Dangerous Spirits! Both Restless Spirits and Dangerous Spirits are only available in digital formats, for US$4,99.

iBooks

Smashwords

All Romance

Amazon

Nook

assinatura