Amazing Author book reviews: Clare London

As Clare has written six novels, seven novellas, and more short stories than I care to count right now, this only represents a small fraction of her output. However, I’ve reviewed her three latest shorts, the wonderful novelette she wrote as part of Jordan Castillo Price’s Petit Morts series, and my all time favourite of her novels, Freeman.

The True Colors sequels

 

 

AMBUSH (#1)

Before meeting Zeke Roswell, Miles Winter’s priorities were clear: business, then pleasure. Before Zeke, he wouldn’t have cleared his desk earlier than usual, waiting for his artist lover to share his preparations for his latest gallery exhibit—on bondage. And he certainly wouldn’t have let Zeke try out some of the pieces on him, right there in the middle of his office. If he’d had any choice, that is.

PAYBACK (#2)

Zeke Roswell and Miles Winter met as business enemies, when Miles acquired Zeke’s precious but neglected art gallery. And then things changed. Over time, they were thrown together as mismatched—and very reluctant—partners, until their attraction grew stronger than any argument. Even if Miles did protest the other night when Zeke cuffed him to his office filing cabinet and had his way with him. In fact, Miles promised there’d be payback… and Zeke doesn’t know it yet, but Miles is about to collect.

SWITCH (#3)

Miles wants to be closer than ever to Zeke, as their commitment to each other grows in strength. Specifically, Miles wants to take things a sexual step farther. Versatility isn’t something he’s been ready for before, but he knows how deeply he feels about Zeke. Can he rely on his lover to feel the same, and make it everything they ever wanted?

Review:

Taken together these three shorts have a complete arc, showing the deepening of Miles and Zeke’s relationship after the drama of True Colors has come to an end. However, they are also each a sexy and satisfying erotic short story in their own right.

The first two books are both set in Miles’ office after hours, and feature Zeke and then Miles taking it in turns to dominate the other. There’s a frisson of bondage in the first (although nothing more shocking than a pair of handcuffs), but Miles confines his domination to verbal commands. The action sizzles with passion and a healthy side-order of kink, but that’s not all that you’ll find here. There’s a definite strand of emotional growth and togetherness that runs through both stories, and culminates in the third.

Switch sees the two lovers abandon their working lives to return to Miles flat, as Miles has finally decided he wants Zeke to top him. This time the sexy stuff is shot through with even more loving awareness, and it forms a really satisfying and heart-warming end to the series.

Although these three shorts are probably best read after the novel, Clare doesn’t assume you’ll have read it first, and includes everything you need to know about their prior relationship in the first book. So there’s no excuse not to go and buy them right now, you hear me?!

 

London Eye (Petit Morts #12)

Oliver’s been dumped by his date in the backstreets of London, where his Armani suit and a rich family background don’t count for much.

Des is waiting tables to make ends meet, reconciled to the fact that all he attracts are lame ducks and lost causes.

Two different men, two very different worlds.

Then Des’s cheerful generosity meets Oliver’s lovelorn confusion over a cup of coffee and a bag of sinfully good chocolates…Enter Chance, working at the Cafe Mystique under the looming presence of the London Eye, searching as always for The One, matchmaking with his own brand of sensual, sweet and shocking magic.

What follows is a mix of providence, passion and good old British pounds. After all, everyone should give credit where credit’s due.

Review:

I was so excited to hear that Clare would be joining the Petit Morts team of Jordan Castillo Price, Josh Lanyon and Sean Kennedy – what a fabulous group of talented writers! I was also thrilled to discover she was setting her story in London, the city she knows so intimately.

London Eye does namecheck the giant ferris wheel that dominates the skyline, but the story itself is firmly grounded in the lives of working Londoners. Des and Oliver might come from different class backgrounds, but as soon as they meet their compatibility is obvious, even if only to the reader. However, it takes a sprinkling of Chance’s magic to help Oliver let go of all his preoccupations and his wealth, and just enjoy spending time with Des for the sake of it.

This is a great story for sampling Clare’s masterful dialogue – she writes wonderful banter, that manages to be emotionally nuanced while avoiding mushy sentiment. These two characters are so much fun to sit back and watch interacting.

Again, I don’t think you need to have read the whole Petit Morts series to enjoy this book. The overall story arc concerning Chance is not the focus of this story, so it works well as a standalone. That said, the series is fabulous so why not read them all?

 

Freeman

Freeman’s return to the city is quiet, without fuss — the way he likes things. But, he’s missed by more people than he thought: his ex-wife, his ex-lover, and his ex-business partner. One wants friendship, another one intimacy. The third just wants him the hell gone again.

Freeman — private, controlled — hasn’t time or appetite for trouble. But, when he strikes up an unusual, ill-advised friendship with young, lively, amoral Kit, it seems trouble’s come looking for both men, ready to expose secrets that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve built. Freeman’s more ready for the challenge than anyone realizes when the choice comes down to peace or Kit’s life.

Review:

A deliciously gritty mystery tale with a terse and unreliable narrator, this novel hooked me in and didn’t let go. It’s not an easy read, but the tour through the sordid criminal underbelly of a large city had a tense atmosphere and plenty of mystery to keep me intrigued.

Perhaps the most enigmatic thing about the whole novel is Freeman himself, our narrator. Considering how little he tells us about his past and his motives, it’s amazing how sympathetic a character he remains. This is partly down to his wry humour and acceptance of his faults, but also because of his relationship to Kit. Despite the vulnerable young man throwing himself at Freeman, he maintains a respectful distance until he realises just how hard he’s fallen for him.

Kit is another great character. Voluble and charming, he’s been sucked into a life of near-prostitution to a criminal businessman with the naive hope of bettering himself. Freeman doesn’t lecture him about his lifestyle choices, but is the friend Kit can go to when things get difficult and he needs time to just relax. Their love grows slowly throughout the novel, but there are major barriers to it caused by Freeman finally revealing what his true mission has always been, both to Kit and the reader. It was a case of “I really didn’t see that one coming”, and I was amazed at how well Clare London had hidden this plot twist considering the story is narrated by Freeman himself.

Interviewing Zeke and Miles – a guest post by Clare London

The first thing I notice is that he’s on time for the interview. There’s a polite smile and a firm handshake, then he unbuttons his jacket and settles in one of the armchairs opposite me. He looks both alert and relaxed. It’s an exclusive club and I’ve only been allowed in today as his guest. But he doesn’t seem to show the blatant arrogance I’ve come to expect from the captains of industry I’ve met on previous assignments, nor any of the diva displays I’ve suffered from the celebrities. Whoever said a journalist’s life was all glamour? Most of my time’s spent simpering or cajoling or even bullying.

With Miles Winter, it doesn’t look like I’ll need any of those strategies.

That’s not to say I’d underestimate him. He’s still relatively young and unfairly handsome, with those intense eyes and full lips. Could be one of those designer models for Armani suits. But I know his credentials. He’s one of the best investment brokers around, he’s made more money than even my imagination can put a figure to, and he’s a tough negotiator. And of course, he’s experienced in meeting the press.

“You look nervous,” he says. “Didn’t you say this was just a feature article for the review pages?” His voice is calm, his lips twisted in what I hope is a sympathetic smile.

That’d better not be a blush creeping up my neck. “Yes, of course. Just a few paragraphs in the magazine, nothing too stressful I hope, Mr Winter. But …” A glance around finds the lounge all but deserted this time of day, only the two of us and a discreet waiter passing through with the coffee. “Is Mr Roswell here?”

Miles smiles, a little tightly, a little ruefully. “Not yet. I understand that he’s probably the more fascinating subject.”

“No,” I say, too quickly. Miles’ eyebrows rise. “I mean, of course I want to meet him – to interview you both together – but I’m especially interested in you.” My tongue feels thick in my mouth: it’s been a while since I was sent to meet someone I genuinely admire. “I’ve followed your career for a long time. I was with the Financial Times for a period.”

He nods, his expression softer. “Good. Do you want to start with a few warm-up questions while we wait?”

“Yes, thanks.” I glance through the list of his business interests. He’s brought plenty of properties to his investment clients, but nowadays there’s a more significant proportion in art than in financial services. “You’ve diversified over the last few years, I believe.” Why does he suddenly flush? His business deals are common knowledge. “Our readers would dearly like to know if that’s mainly because of your involvement with Zeke Roswell?”

As if on cue, the lounge door slams open and Zeke Roswell bursts in. I imagine there’s always a burst of something when he arrives. I recognise the good looks, the lean, graceful body, the bright, fierce eyes. He’s been in the news a lot over the last year. But the effect is much more vivid in real life. I feel that blush creep over my face again. He nods at me and mutters a rueful apology for being late, says he misjudged the time. Not that he’s wearing a watch. Then he glances over at Miles.

The atmosphere suddenly changes in the room. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been right here. The air tightens: I feel warmer. Zeke’s gaze is concentrated on Miles, his lips twisted in a smile. His expression is eager; hungry. Like he hasn’t seen Miles for days, despite the fact they’re living together. That’s common knowledge, too, surely?

Miles’s gaze is fixed just as carefully on Zeke. I’m beginning to feel like that third wheel they talk about.

I clear my throat and they both turn to me. Zeke grins, as if the spell is broken, and drops into the chair beside Miles. “So what do you wanna know?” he drawls. “If your comic’s looking for something outrageous from us….”

“Like at your exhibition, “Connections”?” I’d been lucky enough to catch that event, getting entry on a journalist friend’s spare ticket. Apart from being a provocative and exciting exhibition, it had been the press’s first chance to see the two men as a public couple. Their kiss in full view of the whole gallery had been … both startling and very sexy.

Miles smiles, his eyes on me as if he can see what’s in my mind. “I think you’ll find we’re rather more boring nowadays.”

“Right,” Zeke murmurs. “Of course we are.” He’s smirking, but meets my gaze openly. “So, ask away. What’s your angle? Money? That’s Miles’s department. The gallery? That’d be me. I do some drawing.”

Miles rolls his eyes. I take that as my chance to wrest back this interview from the disorientating effect of their combined charisma. “I think it’s more than just drawing, Mr Roswell.”

“Zeke.”

“Okay, Zeke. Your last exhibition…” I don’t need to look down at my notes, but it’s a welcome break from his dancing, amused gaze. “… called “Bondage” was a huge hit. Outrageous, ingenious, an assault on all senses, the reviews said. Its run was extended for several months. And your paintings are in fierce demand again.”

“Yeah.” He glances at Miles again. “It pays the bills.”

Miles laughs, a very pleasant and rather startling sound. I’m excited – I don’t remember anyone ever including laughter in a piece about Miles Winter. “I was just talking to Mr Winter –”

“You mean Miles?”

“Yes, I mean, Mr W- Miles. I was talking about his recent diversification.”

“You were? Really?” Zeke looks like he wants to laugh, too. What the hell have I said that’s so amusing to them both?

Miles takes pity on me, reaching over to lay a hand on Zeke’s arm. “She means that I’ve enjoyed owning a gallery or two. Sponsoring art. Even though you’ve purchased back the Roswell Gallery, I’ve decided to stay in the field.”

“You’re nothing if not versatile,” Zeke says. This time they both laugh, and Miles flushes again.

I cough, rather snappily now. No one likes being left out of a private joke, do they? “I believe Red de Vere is your partner in some of these ventures.”

Miles nods. “Yes. Red and I have been friends for many years, and we’re both businessmen, even though we haven’t often worked together in the same sector.”

“He’s always popular with our readers.” Like most people, I know Red de Vere’s reputation as a playboy, with plenty of investment in the entertainment industry, even if it’s more often as a consumer. “Though he hasn’t featured in the magazine recently.”

Zeke snorts, and mutters something under his breath about “wings being clipped”.

My fingers itch at the thought of a scoop. “He’s been seen with a friend of yours, Zeke, hasn’t he? With Carter Davison. Is there anything to the rumour…?”

“I doubt it,” Mile answers firmly, even before I have a chance to ask.

“Carter’s very private, not a fan of the limelight like me,” Zeke says, and shrugs. “What can you do?” There’s mischief in his eyes, though, so maybe there’s more to come on that story, another day.

“So, our readers would like to know what your plans are for the year ahead. In your work,” I look at them both, very deliberately, “and privately. Socially. As a couple.”

“The human interest angle,” Zeke says, grinning again, while Miles grimaces. Zeke pulls his chair closer to Miles’s and mock punches Miles’s shoulder. “I’m gonna draw some more. I have some ideas for another exhibition in the summer. Miles is gonna make a few more millions and keep me in the style to which I’d like to become accustomed.”

“Zeke.” Miles frowns, but his eyes are twinkling.

“We’re going to spend more time together. Gonna handle this work-life balance thing better. We’re planning a holiday…”

“We are?” Miles looks startled.

“…somewhere with a white sand beach and cocktails in the pool and no need for beach shorts, so I can take shameless advantage of his cute, firm, very successful as-”

“Enough!” Miles laughs, obviously seeing that now I’m the one who’s flushed. He stands, holding out a hand to help me up out of the plush chair. “I’m sorry, I think we’ll have to leave the interview for today. It’s my fault.” He glances at Zeke. “Our fault. I remember I have another appointment…”

Zeke snorts again.

This hasn’t really gone to plan, but I don’t seem to be able to get angry with either of them. They’re standing very close to each other, not exactly embracing, but keeping so obviously in touch, as if they can’t resist. Zeke’s restless hand trails around Miles’s hip. Miles’s lids look heavier than before, as if he’s sleepy. The affection and desire between them is both enchanting and sensual, even when only hinted at. Far more than friends, but still maintaining some propriety in this sophisticated club. “What about a couple of photos of you together?” I ask, weakly.

“Photos? Sounds good,” Zeke says, enthusiastically. “Especially of his cute, firm –”

Miles steps firmly in front of him, and Zeke’s sentence trails off into a chuckle. Miles takes my hand. “Please come to dinner on Friday at the town house. We’ll allow some photos then, and hopefully a more relaxed setting for your feature.”

“Really?” This is a real coup for the magazine. And – I’m amazed to realise – something I’ll look forward to personally.

“Do you have any food preferences?” Miles looks thoughtful and almost excited – for a brief moment, just like any other sociable young man planning an evening’s entertaining at home. “I’ll cook something Italian…”

Zeke’s chin rests momentarily on Miles’s shoulder. “See? I told you he’s nothing if not versatile.” Miles jerks slightly and his eyes open suddenly, widely, almost as if Zeke had just patted him on the buttocks. Zeke winks at me.

I judge it time to leave. They have other things on their minds.

***

Find out more about Zeke and Miles in True Colors, Ambush, Payback and Switch, all available from Dreamspinner Press.

The True Colors series by Clare London

As Clare will soon be here with an exclusive interview with Zeke and Miles, the two heroes from True Colors, I thought I’d better post the blurbs so those of your unfamiliar with the series can get the basics, and the rest of us can be reminded of an old favourite!

TRUE COLORS

From the very first, Zeke Roswell and Miles Winter are like oil and water. After a tragic fire claimed his brother’s life, Zeke’s personal and professional life spiraled out of control, and now he has no choice but to sell his gallery to cover his debts. Enter successful entrepreneur Miles, who buys it and plans to make a commercial success out of Zeke’s failure.

Their initial hostility stands no chance against the strong passion that ambushes them. Zeke’s talent and lust for life intoxicate Miles, and Zeke finds Miles’s self-assurance and determination equally fascinating. But it’s not until an unsolved mystery of violence and stolen sketches threatens to sabotage any chance at happiness that Miles and Zeke realize they have a chance at all.

 

 

 

 

AMBUSH (#1)

Before meeting Zeke Roswell, Miles Winter’s priorities were clear: business, then pleasure. Before Zeke, he wouldn’t have cleared his desk earlier than usual, waiting for his artist lover to share his preparations for his latest gallery exhibit—on bondage. And he certainly wouldn’t have let Zeke try out some of the pieces on him, right there in the middle of his office. If he’d had any choice, that is.

PAYBACK (#2)

Zeke Roswell and Miles Winter met as business enemies, when Miles acquired Zeke’s precious but neglected art gallery. And then things changed. Over time, they were thrown together as mismatched—and very reluctant—partners, until their attraction grew stronger than any argument. Even if Miles did protest the other night when Zeke cuffed him to his office filing cabinet and had his way with him. In fact, Miles promised there’d be payback… and Zeke doesn’t know it yet, but Miles is about to collect.

SWITCH (#3)

Miles wants to be closer than ever to Zeke, as their commitment to each other grows in strength. Specifically, Miles wants to take things a sexual step farther. Versatility isn’t something he’s been ready for before, but he knows how deeply he feels about Zeke. Can he rely on his lover to feel the same, and make it everything they ever wanted?

All books available from Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.com, among others.

Excerpt: Ambush by Clare London

I was meant to have Clare guest blogging over here yesterday, but what with one thing and another, we’ve decided to move her day to 23rd May. However, in the meantime, here’s a peek at Clare’s latest release – a follow up story to the fabulous and sexy True Colors.

Ambush by Clare London

Sequel to True Colors

BLURB: Before meeting Zeke Roswell, Miles Winter’s priorities were clear: business, then pleasure. Before Zeke, he wouldn’t have cleared his desk earlier than usual, waiting for his artist lover to share his preparations for his latest gallery exhibit—on bondage. And he certainly wouldn’t have let Zeke try out some of the pieces on him, right there in the middle of his office. If he’d had any choice, that is.

Available now from Dreamspinner Press

Payback coming on April 25th, and  Switch on May 23rd

EXCERPT:

“Which exhibit do you like, Miles? Which one appeals to you? Tell me.” He waved a hand at the stuff on the floor. “I want to know which one cries promise.”

Miles cleared his throat. “Later.” Hadn’t he said that already? He seemed to be having some trouble speaking. Under his white silk shirt, his chest was heaving.

Zeke just stood there. He held his hands behind his back, as if nervous of his approach, but his eyes sparkled with amusement and hunger. “So. You want to deal with my inappropriateness?”

“I don’t….”

“You don’t?” Zeke swayed slightly on the balls of his feet. His vest was just a little too short and a little too tight, clinging to his abs and riding up over his waistband at one side. As always.

“I mean….” Miles wondered what the hell he did mean, but instinct took over. “Yes, I want to deal with you. Just somewhere more private. More comfortable.”

“You think?”

“I think.” He reached out for Zeke’s arm and pulled him closer. Zeke’s eyes widened, as if Miles had used more force than strictly necessary. Miles could smell Zeke’s skin, sweet and sweaty from rushing through town to the office. He could feel Zeke’s pulse and see the challenge in his eyes. He could feel his own heartbeat thudding, speeding the blood through his veins, throbbing at his throat and making him slightly dizzy. This happened too often for him to control: too rarely for him ever to tire of it. “Kiss me.”

Zeke stepped the final half step closer, his hip bumping Miles’s thigh, his gaze lingering on Miles’s mouth. “This place is just too damned big,” he growled. “Too much floor space between us. A guy could get lost in here, you know? Could park your limo in here, play football, stage a Greek orgy, for fuck’s sake.”

“So let’s make that a smaller event, just for us. Come here.” Miles slid his arm around Zeke’s waist and pulled him in tightly against his chest. Miles’s senses wallowed happily in the kiss. Taste of heaven. His tongue darted into Zeke’s mouth, their panting breath mingling, his fingers tightening on Zeke’s hip. He was still propped against his desk, but now the edge of it was cutting into the back of his thighs. The clinch with Zeke had pushed him to its corner, with a tall wooden filing cabinet at his right side and only the spectacular picture window beyond that. An occasional arc of light from a large vehicle glittered against the glass of the window; the blare of a horn echoed in the distance, muffled by the heavy glazing.

Zeke’s boot knocked against the cabinet as his knee nudged in between Miles’s legs, spreading them apart. The desk shook, and the papers on the pile behind him rustled.

“We should get back home,” he gasped.

Zeke’s tongue slipped out of Miles’s mouth, and he started licking at Miles’s neck instead. “Yeah.” Zeke’s murmur didn’t sound much like he was paying proper attention. “Soon.”

Miles slid his hands down Zeke’s arms, feeling the muscles, relishing the strength. He reached behind Zeke’s back to grasp the other man’s hands and clasp them in his, but at the last moment, Zeke twisted his arm and pulled his left hand free. Without warning, he curled his fingers around Miles’s wrist and gripped it tight.

“Zeke?”

“We’ll get home,” Zeke whispered against Miles’s neck. “But after.”

***

Clare London, Author
Writing… Man to Man 

http://www.clarelondon.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/clarelondon
http://clarelondon.livejournal.com/