Time to get scared: Unchained by Ainsley Gray

Good reads link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41318018-unchained?from_search=true

Blurb

If he takes their life, they can never truly leave.

That’s the mantra Noah Wilmington has lived by for years. He picks up whores and deviants from the local taverns, enjoys their company for an evening…and then hides their bodies in the woods.

Edward Yorke has approached the same man in the same public house time and again, never deterred by the cool dismissal he receives. There’s something about Noah that calls to him. A shared pain, a shared sadness…

But Noah doesn’t trust himself. It’s too risky to permit someone too close, and Edward is the one person in the world whose life Noah wants to spare. So, every time Edward has asked to buy him a drink, Noah declines.

Then one night, out of sheer loneliness, that “no” becomes a “yes.”

When Edward’s night with him sheds light on some of Noah’s dark secrets, Noah cannot simply let him walk out the door. But if he doesn’t want Edward dead, and he can’t let him leave, only one option really remains…

(Unchained is a gay Victorian-era romance novella with a HEA.)

Review
This was a truly thrilling read! Loved it!!
I don’t make a habit of reading stories with criminal or murderous MC’s, because I find them difficult to like or relate too, but this one came so highly recommended (Riley Hart, Christina Lee) that I felt I needed to take a chance. And wow… I’m so glad I did!

It’s an odd & slightly uncomfortable feeling to be rooting for a serial killer, a rather unrepentant one at that, and not even one who tries to stick to killing “other monsters” like, say, Dexter. The places our mind can go to in a fictional world… If nothing else, this is a great testament to the incredible skill of this author.

There’s such a scary and unsettling atmosphere permeating this book. Danger lurking behind every corner. You’re never at ease, because even when things seem to be going alright and you’re tempted to let down your guard…you’re really just waiting for that axe to fall.
And for all that I knew something was coming, must be coming…I was still completely taken aback when it did. On more than one occasion.

The writing is beautiful and evocative. Words flowing smoothly along, setting the mood perfectly and drawing us a wonderfully clear picture of enigmatic Noah and Edward and the world they live in. The late nineteenth century serves as an ideal background for their story.
Both Noah and Edward are very compelling MC’s, flaws and all. And though at first glance they seem really different, because duh “serial-killer”, they also have something important in common. They have both known great sadness and pain in their youth, and as a result are very much alone, and lonely, in their own way.

In a wonderful twist, we also have the prey actually stalking the predator. Unknowingly, of course.
I also loved that Noah, though the most dangerous one of the two men, is physically the least imposing, being smaller and less muscled than Edward. Brilliantly done!

This book put me in mind of the fable of the Scorpion and the Turtle, with the Scorpion staying true to his nature, no matter the consequences, even for himself. What would be the stronger force here? Nature or…?

Number of stars out of 5: 5

 

 

 

 

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Time to Get Paranormal: Salt Magic Skin Magic by Lee Welch

 

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40722060-salt-magic-skin-magic?from_search=true

Blurb:
Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray.

When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

Review:

From the very first chapter of this book I was caught up in the intense atmosphere of desperation and mystery that just oozed from its pages. Poor Soren, trapped on his father’s estate by powers unseen and with no way out of his predicament!

Reading this story was a bit like walking through a haunted house, always a certain tension and urgency in the air. You daren’t put the book down, because who knows what might happen if you look away! And you just need the characters to hurry the hell up before something goes really wrong.

I loved it!
It read like a Gothic novel of yore, though luckily faster-paced than let’s say the good old Mysteries of Udolpho. The Victorian setting with the broken down manor and romantic moors lends itself perfectly for this type of story. Technical advancements are on the rise, but at the same time it’s far enough into the past to make legends and superstitious tales, even magic, seem plausible.

The writing was beautiful, fluent, gripping and evocative.
I loved the attention to historical details, that touch of realism to contrast so wonderfully with the very original magical setting of the story. I adored the references to the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace especially! How awful indeed for Soren to have missed out on that experience.

John and Soren seemed an unlikely match at first, because of the differences in their characters, their station in life and the trust issues they needed to overcome. But they are really great together!
They have amazing chemistry. However, it was the yearning and the tender, vulnerable moments they shared that truly made them stand out to me.
What struck me too is that Soren, in large part, is drawn to John because of how kind the other man is. Swoon!

I can’t wait to see what this author has in store for us next!

5 stars

Copy Generously Provided for Review