Amazing Author book reviews: Clare London

Posted on May 30, 2012

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.