Today, I’m hosting author S.J. Coles and her latest release Blood Red Roses, part of the My Blood Valentine collection released by Pride Publishing. Be sure to check out my review of this novel.
Title: Book Title: Blood Red Roses
Collection: My Bloody Valentine
Author: S. J. Coles
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Genre(s): Contemporary M/M Romance, Mystery, Thriller
Trope(s): Valentines, Opposites Attract, Love Triangle, Fake Relationship, Rich v Poor
Themes: Accepting yourself, Aspiration, Learning what’s important, Trust
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 47 220 words/192 pages
Rick feels like he’s finally getting his life on track…until a dead body in his flat threatens to derail more than his new career.
Blurb: Things are finally looking up for Rick Bennett. He’s landed a job with Swanson and Gerrard, one of the top finance firms in London and, with it, a chance to pay off his father’s debts and finally make something of his life.
When he’s put in charge of brokering the biggest deal in the company’s history, he knows he can’t lose, even though his boss, Cecily Swanson, clearly wants more than just a professional relationship.
When a rich, handsome stranger, Kim Bailey, introduces himself to Rick at the Swansons’ New Year’s Eve party, Rick is thinking he can definitely get used to rubbing elbows with the upper set. He feels everything is finally working out, despite Cecily’s increasing interest that only seems to strengthen as they approach her high-profile Valentine’s Day wedding.
When someone is murdered in his flat, Rick is shocked but still determined to hold on to his dream. Cecily believes he’s innocent and, more importantly, so does Kim. Though he’s beginning to suspect that there’s more to the guy than meets the eye, Kim’s belief in Rick keeps him strong.
As the investigation continues and Rick finds himself buried deeper in a mess of conspiracy, betrayal and intrigue, he will come to wonder whether the life he’s dreamed of could ever be real.
Note: It is a standalone story, and part of a collection being released by Pride Publishing, the ‘My Bloody Valentine’ Collection, that will all get released at the same time.
He’d deleted and re-phrased the text three times by the time he’d got his keys in the front door. He shook his head to himself. He was acting like a teenager again. But everything else was coming together just right. He may be working ten-hour days for a woman he would eventually have to let down, and still couldn’t entirely stop thinking about the envelope in his desk drawer, but it finally felt like his life was coming together.
He wanted to make dating Kim part of that life. He’d never felt the potential of something so early on in a relationship before, especially when he knew so little about the person. But when he thought of Kim’s light, easy manner and the way he treated Rick like an equal without appearing to even have to think about it, something that wasn’t just lust stirred under his belly.
Of course, the striking, beautiful face, devilish smile and sleek, toned body didn’t hurt matters. He tantalised himself with the thought that tonight they might get to—
Rick switched on his living room light and froze. The new sofa was positioned at right angles to his glass coffee table and smart TV. His boxes of vinyl were stacked against the far wall and his running shoes were by the front door. Everything was as he’d left it that morning, but something was…off. There was a chill in the air. And an odd smell.
He moved forward, trying to identify what was causing unease to snake up his spine. A draught brushed against his face. He moved to the balcony door and found it was open a crack. He frowned. Had the handyman left it open? Why would he even open it on this freezing January day? He slid it shut, turning the key in the lock.
The smell was stronger in the kitchen. He frowned. His breakfast plate was in the sink but he’d only had time for toast so that didn’t explain the sickly-sweet, almost meaty, smell in the air. It was then he noticed his block of chefs’ knives was on its side, the knives spilling out onto the counter. He righted it and returned the knives to their slots. There were two missing. He turned, scanning the kitchen and froze.
I don’t delve into romantic suspense too often, much less a romantic mystery, but I decided it was time, so when the chance came to review this book, I jumped.
First off, the main characters. I liked Rick. He was doing his best to help his family by putting aside his music dream to take a job for the $$$ as a financial analyst. His desperation to help those he loves comes through because he fudges on his résumé.
As for Kim, he’s bold, determined, and rather nosy. I think, right away, the readers will have a good idea what he’s really all about. I know I did.
The characters are written wonderfully. You feel their emotions and the chemistry unfolding between the two. The dialogue is realistic and done very well. The setting is painted in rich detail. Don’t go into this expecting deep character arcs, though. Because this is a mystery, this is where the author concentrates her efforts, and I was grateful for this, because there was much to cover in the 140 pages.
As for the mystery, I enjoyed this part of the story. There were many reveals happening, and although I had a good hunch who was behind everything, it didn’t spoil the reading for me at all. I was wondering how this person would get caught, and their motive.
I felt for Rick, a desperate man thrown into an awful predicament way over his head. His frustration and fear came through on the pages. I liked how Kim was always there for Rick.
I did feel the time Rick spent with his sister did slow the pace of the novel and took away from what could have been more time spent on the mystery or Rick’s romance with Kim. Although heavy in narrative, the writing was fresh, so reading a few chunks of paragraphs with no dialogue or action was fine with me.
I did feel the ending was rushed, and the big reveal. The author could have used a couple more chapters, but perhaps her publisher didn’t allow for this. The same for the epilogue.
Still, this is a nice romantic mystery read that I recommend if you enjoy delving into romantic suspense. The author does a great job balancing mystery and romance.
S.J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK. She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.
She finds writing LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation, emotion and sexuality.
Among her biggest influences are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice.