Editor: Samantha M. Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: 31 August 2016
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters, Disabled Characters, People of Color
TW: Murder, Cheating, Human Trafficking
A Bar Called Once by Daniela Jeffries – Five years after Lana, the love of her life, left her for a man she hardly knew, Ryssa threw herself into her work as a private detective. But when she realizes women are being abducted from the bar where she and Lana met, her investigation leads her to Lana’s husband as the prime suspect.
Black Suede, Red Velvet by Freddie Milano – Black Suede is one of the most exclusive clubs in town, and one with a lot of secrets. The owner, Fujimoto, is suspected of drug trafficking, and James Tachibana goes undercover to get enough evidence to bring in the kingpin—and starts to get too close to Kana, Fujimoto’s favorite escort.
Cold, Bitter, Dark by Douglas P. Wojtowicz – Several years ago Deacon met Mishelle, a trans woman working as a prostitute. Much has changed since, but the two remain friends, and while Deacon wishes they could be friends and lovers, he’s in no hurry to risk what they’ve got. Then Mishelle comes to him for help with a kidnapped girl, and Deacon learns too late he may never get a chance to say everything he wished he had.
Mr. X And The Blackmailed Female by Edale Lane – Mr. X is a celebrated and highly successful private detective in 1890s, and somewhat notorious for the mysterious way no one ever sees him, but must instead go through his assistant, Miss Stetson Goody—who is really Mr. X. It’s a scheme, and a life, that’s always worked perfectly for Stetson—until Lady Ashton shows up with a blackmail problem.
Orpheus Rising by Andrea Speed – Manu Collins is a private detective investigating a murder, who stumbles into the fact that Ralph Rundle, the richest man in the city, is involved in human trafficking. He frees some of the victims, but finds himself at a very dangerous crossroads: does he go after the man himself? And if he does, what does this mean for both his life, and his relationship with his boyfriend, Eric?
Sweetbrier by Helena Maeve – As the Battle of Britain rages, a small town on the Welsh coast grapples with strife of its own—a guesthouse hosting cowardly Londoners and rich men too cynical to join the war has just become the scene of a suspicious death. Veteran-turned-detective Rahul Khan has no desire to get involved, but his curiosity is piqued when police hasten to dismiss the case—and snared further by Mark, one of the misfit residents of Sweetbrier House.
Order here: Amazon
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All stories are about a private detective investigating a crime. All stories feature a diverse cast. All stories are also incredible interesting reads.
A Bar called Once
Diversity: black bisexual Woman, lesbian Woman, f/f couple
Ryssa is a private detective and has noticed that girls at her bar have gone missing after talking to a certain man. One day while she is watching him again her ex suddenly stands in the bar. The man is her husband. Ryssa is scared for Lana’s safety and decides to tell her about her hunch. Reluctantly Lana agrees to help Ryssa observe her husband.
Lana has left Ryssa after she was shot by a witness that Ryssa slept with and soon married John, an accountant. But her husband’s behaviour is highly suspicious and soon Lana isn’t sure who the man is she married.
The story focuses very much on the case, but there is also some romance. Lana and Ryssa have good chemistry, but their shared past makes it at once easy to work together, but also more awkward.
The ending has a nice twist and the story is definitely interesting to read. 3.5/5 Stars
Black Suede, Red Velvet
Diversity: japanese gay men, m/m couple
The owner of Black Suede, an exclusive Japanese Club, Fujimoto is suspected of Drug Trafficking and James Tachibana is hired to go undercover and investigate that. To reach his goal he’ll have to find a way to get closer to Fujimoto. That way may be through Kana, Fujimoto’s favourite escort. James has not expected to find himself drawn to Kana.
Kana soon figures out that James finds him good-looking and heavily flirts with him. There are some incredible hot flirting scenes in this short story,
James knew that this would be a dangerous investigation, but after he has finally established a connection to Fujimoto it soon gets way more dangerous.
The story has some nice twists and turns and the ending is truly wonderful. 4/5 Stars
Cold, Bitter, Dark
Diversity: latina trans woman, m/f couple
Deacon wants to help his crush and partner Mishelle save a kidnapped woman. This, however, puts both of them in danger and Deacon still hasn’t told her how he truly feels about her.
Deacon and Mishelle met when he helped her get the money and the papers to legally change her name. Deacon used to be a police officer but lost his job when he refused to act corruptly for a captain. After that, they soon became good friends and Deacon lived in her garage.
Mishelle works as a prostitute, does social work and is a CI for the local police. Her life is not always safe and she knows it. So she makes sure she knows how to defend herself.
The ending is very nice and I think I found my new OTP ❤ 4.5/5 Stars
Mr. X and the blackmailed Female
Diversity: lesbian women, f/f couple
Mr X is a well-known private detective in the 19th century. Nobody has ever seen his face, as everybody who wants to hire him must arrange the deal through his assistant, Miss Stetson Goody. As it turns out she is actually Mr X and plans to keep her identity secret, but when Lady Ashton comes to her in need of help, it gets more complicated.
Jewel Ashton is blackmailed by pictures that somebody took while she was kissing another woman. This is terrible for her as she doesn’t have enough money to pay the blackmailer and if it would come out her father’s political career would be destroyed. Stetson Goody is amazed. Never has she met another woman who loves woman just like she does.
Having grown up in the theater community Stetson knows her way around makeup, costuming and acting. She loves her double life, as it offers her a chance to live a different life than women in her time were able to live.
They embark on a dangerous journey to find the blackmailer and save Lady Ashton’s honor.
I really liked Stetson’s unmasking at the end. 4/5 Stars #ownvoices
Diversity: asian gay man, m/m couple
Manu is a private detective. He has heard about a human trafficking ring under the Club Hell’s Kitchen. Even though he knows that it is dangerous, he decides to investigate this himself. Through sheer luck, he survives that night and manages to free a few woman, but afterward, the real trouble begins. He decides to track down the man behind all this himself, even if it puts his life and his relationship with Eric at risk.
Manu is a very ambitious private detective, who wants to save some people. Even though he knows he can’t change the world he can change some people’s lives and that’s better than nothing.
Eric loves him and thanks to him being a paramedic, he can always stitch up Manu’s wounds.
The story has an open ending, but I liked Eric and Manu’s relationship, it was super sweet! 3/5 Stars
Diversity: Disabled (missing limb, PTSD) indian gay man, m/m couple
Set during the 2nd World War Rahul realizes that there is something iffy going on in his town. The police tries to cover up a murder and soon afterward a woman from Sweetbrier House kills herself. Said woman has been reported to be scared for her life before. Rahul has to untangle that mess without any police support. And then there’s also interesting Mark, a resident of Sweetbrier House. Nothing is as it seems.
I love Rahul and that he is a disabled veteran, who still suffers from his time at war. His first marriage failed soon after he came back, as he didn’t sleep with his wife. Since then he has been single until Mark comes along.
An interesting story set during war, with spies, traitors, murder and romance with an open, yet satisfying end. 4/5 Stars