The Blogger Girls, Heather C
I LOVE ghost stories, and even though this one didn’t actually have a ghost walking around in it, it did have those creepy spirit channeling episode of the murder that were definitely scary!
Reviews by Jessewave, Cryselle
It has a lot of elements done very well, with a good flavor of the late Victorian age, a well executed external mystery and a couple who overcome a number of problems to be together
Sensual Reads, 4.5 stars
We experience murder and mayhem, illicit love and passion as well as a satisfaction as we immerse ourselves in the story of Court and Oliver.
Book Review, Toni Sweeney, 5 stars
An erotic M/M and a great thriller besides. … Court is a good counterpoint to the psychic and almost his opposite in personality, granite-like and self-contained, while Marsh is dramatic and sensitive to a fault. Each man has a full background, and there is equal concentration on their love for each other as well as the story. Even the villain gets his share of a back story. The sights, sounds, and smells of London are there in full force, and it all comes together in a gripping—and chilling—story of love and death, illicit passion and murder.
Speak Its Name blog, Erastes
This, quite apart from the gay romance within it, is a good Victorian sleuth story which stands firmly on its own two feet. You could remove the gay romance and the detective story would still be viable, and that’s needed in the genre, too many stories simply concentrate on the meeting and eventual falling in love.
What I liked most is that both characters, whilst developing in their personality throughout, both for the better, remained true to their core beliefs.
Queer Magazine Online, Lena
This is a great love story intertwined with mystery, suspense, intrigue, murder, ardent trysts, and two fascinating men who, together, are unstoppable. If you enjoy romantic historical fiction with lots of action and passion, you will enjoy THE PSYCHIC AND THE SLEUTH.
Library Journal, Melanie Duncan
A solid historical that will appeal to fans of the authors’ THE GENTLEMAN AND THE ROGUE, which won the 2011 Passionate Plume Award for Historical Romance.
“Oliver is a medium,” his mother explained to Miss Hathaway. “He has the ability to communicate with those who have passed on as my mother and aunt both had. Back in their day, such an ability was considered an embarrassing family secret. These days it is celebrated as a gift. Oliver has held séances in the homes of some very distinguished members of society.”
“That is fascinating, Mr. Marsh. How do you do it?” Miss Hathaway leaned toward him with wide-eyed eagerness, acting as if her uncle hadn’t already informed her of Oliver’s profession, which was highly doubtful.
He wasn’t at all in the mood to run through his usual spiel about the gauzy veil between worlds and the voices that spoke to him—especially now that he’d actually experienced it. The gauzy curtain was more like a nausea-producing sledgehammer—but all of them were looking at him expectantly. Oliver adopted his far-seeing look and unspooled a skein of philosophical rambling to keep them happy through the remainder of teatime. Afterward, his mother asked him to continue to visit with the guests in the parlor, but he made his excuses.
“I have an important appointment with a client who needs to communicate with his deceased cousin,” he said truthfully. “I will see you next week, Mother. Perhaps I can take you on a stroll in the park, if the weather permits.”
She lit up, and another rush of affection for her swept through him. “That would be delightful. If Mr. Wiggins and Miss Hathaway could join us, it would be quite an outing.”
Oliver’s smile froze. Despite his indication that he wanted to see only her, she seemed determined to push him together with this chit. “I’ll send you a note.” He bowed over the Hathaway girl’s hand. “So good to meet you.”
After a kiss on his mother’s cheek and a handshake with Wiggins, he was free to leave at last. Alice waited at the door with his outerwear. “Have a lovely evening, Mr. Marsh. Keep yourself safe.”
Oliver looked at her, a bit surprised by the warning tone of her words, particularly given that he wasn’t feeling very safe going into this meeting with Peeler—or rather Court. “I will. And you look after my mother.”
“I always do.”
He hurried home as the shadows lengthened. With every footstep, his anxiety, which had simmered on a back burner all day, grew stronger. Robert Court would expect him to enter a trance on command and contact Lily again. Oliver was afraid he couldn’t do it but was even more afraid he could. He didn’t like the sensation of having his mind invaded. He didn’t want to feel the dead girl’s sorrow again.
Mingled with his fears was extreme excitement at the prospect of seeing Court again. What in the world did that mean? A stocky, muscular body, a rough-hewn face and pale gray eyes didn’t add up to an exceedingly handsome man, and yet there was something about Court that woke Oliver up like a slap to the face. He wanted to hear that brusque voice again and look into those eyes, even though the man was his enemy out to destroy him. Innate attraction drew him to the tough detective, and Oliver’s heart beat with anticipation as much as fear as he rushed toward his flat.
Court walked with his shoulders hunched, head bent low and hands jammed into his coat pockets as he strode toward Oliver Marsh’s flat. The afternoon mist had turned to a steady drizzle, and he’d left his umbrella at home. He should’ve taken a cab, but he’d decided to walk, since he was already so close to Northhampton Square. Ironic that the scene of Lily’s murder wasn’t many streets away.
He’d visited the site today as he had so many times before, staring at the spot and examining every cobblestone, every brick in the surrounding buildings, every lamppost, doorway and window frame as if the location would give him the clue he needed to find her killer. But now, nearly a year later, the rusty stain that marked the pool of blood beneath her body had long ago washed away. There was no indication a murder had even taken place in that quiet back street.
Superintendent Hardy would’ve told him he was spinning his wheels in a quagmire of mud, searching for something that wasn’t there. Inspector Childs would’ve reminded him the killer had been found, tried and hanged, and he should allow Lily to rest in peace. Recently Court had nearly begun to believe them. It had been some weeks since he’d even looked into his investigative file.
But Lily wasn’t resting in peace, was she? If Marsh wasn’t a scam artist, then Lily was rattling around inside the medium’s head and trying to send Court a message.
Marsh. He took a moment to dwell on the man who’d turned his life upside down in more ways than one. In addition to reigniting Court’s fire to find a killer, Marsh had ignited other things inside him—attraction, heady lust, the desire to touch…
Court prided himself on keeping his appetites firmly under control, satisfying them only very occasionally and with utmost discretion. He did not like the way Marsh sent longing racketing through him. The mere thought of Marsh’s bowed upper lip, his soft brown waves of hair, the soothing tenor of his voice and those damned unearthly blue eyes was enough to make his cock rise.
Court willed it to calm. Damned if he’d let this young man have such control over him. He must be clearheaded tonight as he observed Marsh channel Lily—if Marsh even could channel Lily. He must be wary and clever, not ensnared in a web of lust.
Rain dripped off the brim of his bowler. A few drops landed on his nose, and he brushed them away as he entered the door of Marsh’s building. His heart beat faster as he climbed the narrow staircase leading to the man’s apartment. The air was dank and musty-smelling, and it was nearly as cold and damp inside as out.
Court knocked on the door and listened to the thud of footsteps crossing the floor. He caught his breath just before the door opened. Marsh’s fine-featured face was as he remembered it—pretty. If he was a girl, Court would’ve described him as winsome, for there was something inherently charming in Marsh’s manner. His eyes and smile drew one to him.
Marsh dipped his head. “Mr. Peeler.” He held out his hands to take Court’s dripping hat and coat.
Court glanced around the room, comparing it to the previous evening, wanting to see if Marsh had removed anything he thought might be incriminating. It looked the same, though perhaps slightly neater. His gaze swept over Marsh, taking in the sharp cut of his gray coat, the muted colors of his paisley waistcoat. He still dressed the dandy but more subdued than yesterday’s eye-burning checked coat.
Marsh hung his coat, then handed him a bit of toweling to dry off with. “The afternoon is damp,” he remarked.
“The rain’s diminishing.” Court moved past him to the chair his host indicated, the same he’d occupied last night. A small table with a lit candle on it sat between the chair and the sofa.
“I’ll pour you a cup of tea to warm you up.” Marsh removed his jacket before going into the small kitchen. When he returned a few moments later with the tea tray, his shirtsleeves were rolled up to the elbow. The muscles in his forearms flexed slightly as he set the tray down, and Court couldn’t stop watching his deft hands as he poured them each a cup and presented one to Court.
Fragrant steam rose from the cup, bathing his icy face. He sipped the scalding brew, then placed the cup on the edge of the table. “How do we begin? No tricks of the trade or setting an atmosphere. If you can really commune with the dead, show me.”
Marsh nodded and put his own cup aside. “First we must be honest with each other. If you wish to hear from your dead relative, you must at least give me your true name.”
“Why is that necessary? I told you, the more facts I feed you about either myself or Lily, the more likely you’ll invent some fiction to appease me.”
If Marsh was irritated, he didn’t betray it by more than a slight tightening of his lips. “Shall I continue to call you Robert Peeler, then?”
Court hesitated. There was still the fraud investigation to consider, but his undercover persona was already destroyed with Marsh. He should stick with the pseudonym, yet he suddenly found himself blurting, “Court. You may call me Court.”
“Mr. Court.” Marsh looked at him with a small, grave smile. He inclined his head as if accepting the name. “And I’m still Oliver Marsh. I don’t have a hidden identity or a hidden agenda. The service I provide to my clients is real—I comfort them about the afterlife. I reassure them. There is no harm in what I do.”
Court bit his tongue. There was plenty he could say about taking money from grieving people for pretending to pass on messages from their departed loved ones, but tonight he was here as a believer himself. Or mostly a believer. It seemed apparent something otherworldly had happened at that séance. “I’m ready to see if you are the genuine article. We should find out if you can make it happen again.”
“I’m not sure.” Marsh blushed.
“Go on,” Court said. “You don’t know how to establish a true connection to the dead, do you?”
Marsh ignored him. “It would be good if you had some personal possession of the girl’s I could hold. I should’ve asked you to bring something.”
“I brought a photograph.” Court went to where his greatcoat was hung and took the tintype from the pocket. He returned to his seat and handed it to the medium. “My cousins, Lily and her older sister, Rose. She’s the one on the left.”
Marsh studied the photo. “Lovely girls.” He glanced up at Court. “If I forgot to say it last night, I’m dreadfully sorry for your loss. A death in the family is hard enough, but murder…”
“Yes. Thank you.” Court cut him short. “So, will that help? Can you begin now?”
Marsh set the photo on the table beside the candle. He nodded at Court’s teacup. “Could you set that on the side table, please, and then take my hands.”
Court obeyed, removing the cup and hesitating only a moment before grasping the other man’s hands. They were warm and dry and slender in his grip. Long fingers wrapped around the backs of his hands, palm slid over palm, and Court fought back the tingle of excited anticipation that shot through him. His body reacted beyond his control, imagining he was there for some other purpose. He steadied his breathing and concentrated. “Now what?”