This was a fun mystery. The world is slightly steampunk, so there are trains and the like, giving it a more modern feel, and it’s subtly magical; however, magic isn’t as prevalent in this culture as in some fantasy. The novel is told from the point of view of Colin Bliss, a librivenator… which is sort of an Indiana Jones for books. Bliss is your typical thinks-he-knows-everything and an in-way-over-his-head type of person. He travels to Scotland and uncovers the dark past of a small fishing village, and his curiosity and spunk drive the plot toward an amazing adventure.
The mystery portion of the story struck me as a bit of the haunted house variety, and the plot was probably a bit more predictable than I’m used to when I read Mystery, but even though I may have known where things were headed, I was still highly entertained. There were some wonderful thriller moments and suspense, which is definitely my cup of tea, and Lanyon delighted me with his nefarious characters—those characters that I either loved to hate or hated to love.
I didn’t categorize this as a Romance, but as a MM. To clarify, I meant to intimate that there is some erotic content, but this was not a classic Romance. The romance piece of the novel was not the focus; however, it was important and incredibly fascinating for the characterization of Bliss, and for adding dimension to the plot.
Knowing full well that Septimus Marx, one of Bliss’s bosses, is spying on him, Bliss enters a dalliance with him. While they are boffing each other on the side, Bliss is sneaking around Marx, lying by omission and sometimes flat out lying, all to keep his book hunting on the down low. Even though Marx is clearly not a good guy per se, Bliss allows himself to become seduced by his charms.
I enjoyed the dynamic between the two of them, even if it wasn’t classically romantic. Those familiar with Lanyon’s work will probably understand what I am talking about. I sometimes feel bogged down in Romance, where the authors spend so much time talking about love and feelings, that there’s barely a plot. I like relationships to feel starker, rawer. That way I can create the feelings as I read the novel, instead of having them shoved down my throat. Sometimes Lanyon’s stories are critiqued based on them being Romances, but I don’t read them that way, and I tend to enjoy his work. That being said, if you have a preference for one over the other, hopefully I’ve provided you enough information to make your own decisions.
I have read and reviewed Lanyon before, and he is one of my favorite MM authors. He has quite the bibliography, and has won many awards. He’s also written some non-fiction, which is sort of heartening to see in a genre fiction author. You can check out his blog here:
Beth Brock is a reviewer for DSP and QSF. She enjoys reading, writing, running, family and food, and fills her life with bent bunk. She especially loves to discuss LGBTQ+ literature. Her website is http://www.bethbrockbooks.com. You can find her on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BethBrockBooks.