Title: Mainly by Moonlight: Bedknobs and Broomsticks 1
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
Release Date: August 1st, 2019
Genre(s): Murder Mystery/Magic
Page Count: 252
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A gay high-society wedding. A stolen book of spells. A love-threatening lie.
Can a witch avoid a murder rap without revealing the supernatural truth?
Cosmo Saville guiltily hides a paranormal secret from his soon-to-be husband. And if he can’t undo a powerful love spell, uncertainty threatens his nuptial magic. But when he’s arrested for allegedly killing a longtime rival, he could spend his honeymoon behind bars…
Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith never believed in love until Cosmo came along. Falling head over heels for the elegant antiques dealer is an enchantment he never wants to break. So when all fingers point to Cosmo’s guilt, John struggles to believe what his heart is telling him.
As Cosmo searches for the real killer among the arcane aristocracy, John warns him to leave it to the police. But with an unseen enemy threatening to expose Cosmo’s true nature, the couple’s blissful future could shatter like a broken charm.
Can Cosmo find the lost grimoire, clear his name and keep John’s love alive, or will black magic “rune” their wedding bells?
“Mainly by Moonlight” is the first book in the sexy “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” romantic gay mystery series. If you like spell-binding suspense, steamy star-crossed fun, and a dash of paranormal, then you’ll love Josh Lanyon’s charming tale.
I’ve already confessed how big a fan of murder mysteries and books with magic I am, so you can easily imagine how excited I was about Josh Lanyon’s new release, which is a mix of both. Once more, true to her usual swift and effective writing technique, Josh doesn’t dilly-dally but throws us in medias res, which means that after a few introductory sentences that set the place and time, she makes us—and the MC—stumble upon a murder victim. Here, it is Seamus Reithermann, successful but rather unscrupulous antique dealer based in the Mission District, San Francisco. And the MC discovering the body is Cosmo Saville, young antique dealer himself. What we know right from the start is that both are part of a secret international witch community, the Société du Sortilège, of which Cosmo’s mother, the duchess Estelle Saville d’Abracadantès, is an eminent member too. Quite oddly, only a few seconds after Cosmo has come across the body, two police officers appear and arrest him.
Of course, he doesn’t spend much time at the police station. He’s to marry the SF police commissioner John Galbraith in a few days, after all. Problem is, although they’re very much in love with each other, John doesn’t and mustn’t know Cosmo is a witch. Second problem: Cosmo appears to be the sole suspect for the murder of his late colleague and, it turns out, rival. Third problem: John has fallen in love with Cosmo because the latter’s best friend Andi has cast a love spell to spite the quite uppity police commissioner. Now Cosmo has asked her to “dispel” the spell, and he’s anxiously waiting for John to come to his senses and call off the wedding. All this makes for a busy timetable, what with the wedding now only hours away and one of Cosmo’s best friends being propelled into a coma by a highly suspicious hit-and-run-job.
Well, for starters, the world-building is perfectly convincing. Yes, it’s San Francisco as we know it (erm, from having seen it in movies, TV shows, and books as far as I am concerned; never been there yet), but the magical-users-bit is seamlessly and plausibly worked in as in: of course there are witches, of course they need to remain secret, and of course they have spells, grimoires and whatever today’s modern witch may need. Cosmo is a careless-carefree but smart young man with a good, dry sense of humour and a heart as big as the moon and as wide as the ocean. A truly endearing and likeable MC with a slight daddy-complex (John is much older than he) whom, by the description provided, I wouldn’t mind welcoming in my, uh, home (and I for one wouldn’t mind him wielding magic at all… just saying… if you hear me, C.). The plot unravels at a good and steady pace, Josh’s writing is solid and, in the appropriate parts, as witty as she made me used to. There’s the odd repetition of words and some constructions that may not be as elegant as she normally writes them, and sometimes I get an impression of rushed passages, but I guess that is due to the short deadline she had for this release. There are some French bits and pieces because Cosmo’s mum is French; that could have been a deadly trap, but the book has been well proofread by someone who knows some French, so those bits are by and large correct—kudos.
Yes, I liked this book and am looking forward to #2. And still. When I finished the book, I had a strange feeling of unfulfillment (argh, ghastly word). I wasn’t disappointed as such; I don’t think Josh could ever disappoint me, unless she starts writing telephone directories, which I hope she never will. But there were a few things I really found wanting. The secondary characters, for instance, are well depicted: Cosmo’s mom—a hoot; his father, whom we see but briefly, quite a character too. Why, then, is John left really sketchy? He’s a very important secondary character, after all. I didn’t get a good picture of him, I couldn’t see what drives him, I couldn’t see why Cosmo had fallen for him in that insta-love kind of way (well, the other way round, it’s easier to understand: love spell!). The same is true (or even truer) of the supposed and probable culprit, who by the way pops up as such like a surprise deus ex machina somewhere near the end. Halfway through the book I did suspect that character, too, all right, because as a murder mystery reader, I’m used to suspecting anyone bar the gardener (note: it is never the gardener!). But I didn’t suspect the motive (and still don’t quite get it as far as that character is concerned). The most disconcerting thing, however, is: we don’t get any conclusion. I’m used to cliffhangers as far as a book’s romance plotline is concerned (Adrien English and his Jake needed five novels to figure out what was what, and I didn’t mind). But here, we get a happy ending in the romance-department (well, happy-for-now)… and no ending in the murder-mystery-department. And that was… odd. I’m just glad this is a trilogy, so we’ll know eventually what has happened, whodunnit, whydunnit, and so on. It’s just… it’ll be a long wait for me.