Queer Magazine Online, Lena Grey
This is a wonderful, unusual story with delightfully complex characters, many of whom I grew to admire and love. The carnival world is a perfect setting for this engaging story, challenging us to think about reality versus illusion; it’s an eye-opening look into the hardship and camaraderie of life on the road for carnival entertainers. I’d recommend HOUSE OF MIRRORS to anyone who enjoys a well written story, full of angst, hate, deception, honesty, friendship and love.
Three AM Reviews, Kassa, 4 stars
It’s an easy to read and likable historical with a lot of rich detail and angst to sink your teeth into. The story offers numerous memorable and vivid characters, rounding out a cast full of gritty life and heartbreak.
The Romance Reviews, Darcy, 5 stars
The authors have woven a place of magic in this story, and I highly recommend this book for anyone who desires a piece of the past.
Joyfully Reviewed, Cassie
HOUSE OF MIRRORS is a fascinating tale of illusion and reality, emotion and suspense. It has a bit of something for everyone: a great historical setting, drama, suspense, romance, and angst. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, pick up House of Mirrors.
Sensual Reads, Elise, 4 stars
HOUSE OF MIRRORS was exciting with almost a double plot. We have two men falling in love and then there is the mystery of the misfortunes. Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon do a fantastic job with both, gifting us with a cast of characters that are memorable in their quirkiness and their surprising wisdom. The mystery was drawn out very cleverly and left us guessing until the discovery. Great plot and fabulous characters all combine to make HOUSE OF MIRRORS an entertaining, captivating tale.
Jessewave Blog, Sirius, 4 stars
This historical romance mostly set up inside a travelling carnival was a captivating read for me. I have read three other novels by these two authors and so far for me their trademark is that they are one of very few who can sell me on a lot of sex in the story. Somehow they manage to write sex scenes which move the story along all the time and do not feel like filler, and this novel is no exception.
Speaks Its Name Blog, Erastes, 4 1/2 stars
It’s this “Grapes of Wrath” level of detail that I loved most about the book; the main two characters, Jonah and Rafe are interesting, but they didn’t catch me on fire, and the romance was pretty predictable. However it’s solidly done, and no one will be disappointed by the set up and completion of the love story. However, the other characters in the book were the genius touch.
Whipped Cream Reviews, Cactus, 4 stars
While the setting was enough to catch and hold my attention, the various characters stole my heart. From the quiet gentle giant to the prickly animal trainer, the surly drunk and even the mysterious owner all of these combine to give a fully three dimensional picture.
Padme’s Library, 4 1/2 stars
Love meets the traveling carnival and all the very interesting characters that come with it. Rafe and Jonah are a perfect pair even when they are fighting the connection.
Our Story GLBTQ Historical Fiction, Christopher
The characterization of the various carnival people is sublimely archetypal and true. I recommend this book to anyone who had gotten used to Dee-and-Devon quality.
May 1902, southern Ohio
“Step inside to see real magic. Your face reflected a thousand times over, glass within glass. Which image is the real you? An avenue of mirrors, ladies and gentlemen. An attraction so unique no other traveling show can boast of such a marvel.”
The tall, dark-haired man on the platform wove wonder with his words and hands as he gestured dramatically toward the open door of the brightly painted wagon. Its very blackness, the suggestion of a mouth ready to devour those who entered, was both a challenge and an enticement. Fear, danger, thrills and surely real magic waited inside. To leave humdrum life behind and see something new was too great a temptation to pass up. People began to shuffle forward and offer their nickels.
A young man tugged on his lady friend’s reluctant hand as she protested, “No, Tommy. I don’t want to. It’s eerie.”
“But you love looking at yourself in a mirror so you should love seeing yourself in a thousand of ‘em even more,” he replied, earning chuckles from those around him.
The girl shrieked and slapped his arm but allowed him to buy her a ticket from the lovely lady in the short, sparkly skirt. Together they headed inside.
The pretty ticket taker with the pile of auburn curls, her eyes outlined in theatrical black, was meant to attract the gentlemen’s attention and prompt their purchase. She smiled and pursed her lips and fluttered her lashes, giving the idea that perhaps something more entertaining than mirrors might be waiting inside. But Jonah was not interested in the swelling décolletage pushed high by a tight corset. He had eyes only for the showman, who never ceased his melodious patter.
“Adventure, excitement and a memory you will treasure for a lifetime,” he promised. His face was long and gaunt with sharp cheekbones and a saturnine appearance enhanced by the moustache and goatee that framed his full lips. He wore a black cape, which swirled dramatically around him, over a vest studded with tiny mirrors that caught the light and sent sparkling diamonds showering over the crowd. His body was lean and graceful as he took control of the small stage, conjuring anticipation and enthusiasm out of thin air, weaving a spell that pushed listeners inexorably toward the house of mirrors.
Jonah didn’t join the group. He wasn’t here to enjoy any sideshows but to try to find employment. His lip was torn and when he tongued it, he tasted metal. His left eye had swollen nearly closed. Every muscle in his body was stiff and aching. He’d barely been able to stumble over the hill to follow the sound of discordant calliope music and the glow of the lights that beckoned one and all to the carnival. He couldn’t go back, even if the traveling show wouldn’t hire him. He no longer had a choice about leaving home and realized he should’ve made the decision to go rather than waiting for the situation to explode in his face.
His father’s words of righteous anger still rang in his ears. “Abomination. You’re a filthy pervert, a freak of nature who has brought shame on our family.”
Well, wasn’t a carnival sideshow the place for a freak? But no. A freak of his type wouldn’t even fit in here.
Jonah turned to go find the owner of the carnival. He hoped his battered appearance wouldn’t alarm a prospective employer. He was strong and capable of lifting and carrying tentpoles, watering animals or mucking out stalls. It didn’t much matter to him what he did right now. He just needed a place to hide and a way to travel down the road.
Clutching his satchel tighter, he threaded his way through the crowd and around the big wagon with “Mysterious House of Mirrors” emblazoned in flowing script on the side. A painting depicted a woman with her hands upraised and her eyes and mouth circles of surprise as she gazed into a gilt frame, angled so the viewer couldn’t see the mirror into which she was gazing. A person might interpret her expression to be shock, awe, wonder, delight or horror depending on his point of view, but the mural certainly lured viewers to come inside.
Jonah was so intent on gazing at the painting that he barreled right into the barker who had leaped down from the platform. A mingled scent of tobacco, alcohol and sweat came from the man’s clothing. He grasped Jonah’s shoulder to steady him.
“Easy, lad.” The voice was as smooth as worn leather, dark and sonorous. He sounded English, or perhaps Irish. For a moment Jonah forgot his own woes and wondered how the man had ended up in the Midwest.
“Sorry, sir. I wasn’t looking where I was going,” he replied, meeting the man’s eyes. They were black as a night sky with a sprinkling of stars. Maybe it was the reflection of the moonlight on his mirrored vest which made them sparkle. “Could you direct me to the manager of this carnival?”
“What would you be wanting with him?” The man’s tone was cautious.
“A job.” He managed a smile and tasted a fresh spurt of blood on his tongue from the cut inside his lip.
“Ah, I see.” The barker scanned Jonah’s bloody, disheveled state. “In that case, allow me to escort you to his lodgings. I’m just taking my break.”
He guided Jonah away from the House of Mirrors. They strolled past other sideshows; a fortuneteller, a freak tent, games of chance with cheap prizes hung on ribbons like a line of laundry, and the main tent in which big acts performed. Barkers competed with one another in trying to draw people to their attraction. Music blared from gramophones in front of some of the booths, various tunes fighting a discordant battle for supremacy.
Jonah’s head was pounding and he felt his every heartbeat thumping in his ears. The vision in his one good eye blurred and it occurred to him he was about to pass out. That wouldn’t do. He couldn’t appear weak or he’d never get hired. He blinked and drew a deep breath to clear his head.
“Do you know if the manager’s hiring right now? I’d be willing to do any work, anything at all. I don’t care if I get paid much or anything. I’d just appreciate the chance to travel.”
“In a hurry to get out of town, eh? I’ve been in that position before.”
Jonah stumbled and the man beside him slung an arm around his back, lending him support. That small kindness coupled with the man’s sympathetic words made Jonah’s eyes sting. After what he’d been through that evening, he felt as emotional as one of the women who laundered altar clothes at his father’s church, a job saved for newly converted worshippers.
“I’m sorry. I’ve had a bit of a day.” He nearly smiled at the understatement.
“I can see that.” The stranger cast a sideways glance at him. “Would the fellows who did that to your face be likely to follow after you? The show doesn’t need any trouble. We’ve enough of our own.”
“Oh, no. Nothing like that. I haven’t done anything.” Hadn’t he? His actions had brought this trouble down on him. He couldn’t deny that. Jonah gestured at his face. “This was just a…falling out with some family members.”
“With family like that, who needs enemies, eh?” The warm band of the man’s arm left his back abruptly as he turned to Jonah and stuck out his hand to shake. “I’m Rafe Grimstone, sometimes ringmaster of the big show or talker for one of the attractions, but also owner of this carnival. And you are…?”
“J-Jonah Talbot.” He put down the satchel he carried, took the man’s hand and shook it, good manners outweighing his surprise at the sudden turn of events. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Grimstone. I apologize for my appearance, but I promise I’d be a hard worker at any task you assign me.”