Title: The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings (Black and Blue #1)
Author: Lily Morton
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Novemer 14, 2019
Genre(s): Paranormal, Contemporary
Page Count: 301
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Levi Black is at a crossroads. After suffering a loss and breaking up a long-term relationship, he’s looking for a change. When he receives the news he’s inherited a house in York, he seizes the opportunity to begin a new chapter in his life.
However, when he gets there, he finds a house that has never kept its occupants for very long. Either through death or disinclination, no one stays there, and after a few days of living in the place, Levi can understand why. Strange noises can be heard at all hours of the day and night, and disturbing and scary things begin to happen to him. He never believed in ghosts before, but when events take a sinister turn, he knows he must look for help. He finds it in the unlikely form of the blue-haired leader of a ghost tour.
Blue Billings is edgy, beautiful, and lost. Utterly lost. He conceals so many secrets that some days it’s a miracle he remembers his own name. He knows that he should ignore Levi because he threatens the tenuous grip Blue has on survival. But there’s something about the kind-eyed man that draws Blue to him. Something that demands he stay and fight for him when he would normally run in the opposite direction.
As the two men investigate the shocking truth behind Levi’s house, they also discover a deep connection that defies the short length of time they’ve known each other. But when events escalate and his life is on the line, Levi has to wonder if it was wise to trust the Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings.
This novel is written in the third person and, once the reader gets acquainted with the characters, it becomes a dual point of view presentation. This works well and it provides a dynamic to the story. It also has one critical weakness. The style of dialogue for both of the main characters is indistinguishable. Yes, the author puts the name of the character focus at the beginning of each chapter, but it is too easy to forget whose mind we are in and have to rely on pointers in the dialogue to reorient. This can be frustrating, particularly at points of action. That said, the characters are well written and have interesting personalities that make them attractive. Their histories are revealed throughout the book and are done so in a timely fashion.
The location is interesting and provides a good sense of both the present and the past. There is a small recognition of what remains quite closed attitudes to gay men, but largely the story presents the pleasant fantasy that the central characters can be comfortably open about their feelings for each other and that those around them are tolerant. Whilst landmarks are frequently mentioned, the action occurs in a location that doesn’t quite fit. The house may be old enough to fit the story, but the interior is deliberately refurnished to be modern. This is a common feature of the story in that it is made up of people and places that are of two times.
There is a mix of humour and tension throughout. The humour opens the story and bubbles through comfortably at intermittent points but without being nervous. There is description of violent acts and these are graphic, but not excessively so. The focus is always drawn back to the growing relationship between the two central characters.
The lead characters are drawn to one another and despite their differences, it is clear they are going to come together. The tension in the relationship is focussed on these differences but is not overplayed. They are sweet together both outside and inside the bedroom. Descriptions of sex are limited but appropriate to the context.
Despite the difficulties of determining who is who, this is a very light read that holds together very well. The story is interesting and verges on exciting from time to time. As such it is an easy read that draws the reader in and keeps the action going throughout. Consequently, it can be read quite quickly.
The tension builds up with the approach to the denouement, in fact, more is put into that than is needed to lead the reader through the resolution. There are no red herrings in this story so it is unclear why certain things are mentioned. The resolution to the problem is not a surprise and is a mechanism that has been used by other authors, but it works within the context of the story. The book closes with a reinforcement of character placement allowing for the next book in the series.
This was an enjoyable story and bodes well for subsequent books.