REVIEW: A Summer of Smoke and Sin, by TJ Nichols

A Summer of Smoke and Sin - TJ Nichols

Title: A Summer of Smoke and Sin

Author: TJ Nichols

Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Publisher: Self

Pages: 260

Reviewer: Maryann

Get It On Amazon | Universal Link

About The Book

To stop a serial killer a detective will need to explore his own vices…

Nathanial Bayard wants nothing more than to find the nobleman creating snuff pornography. If he fails, his career in the recently formed nobility taskforce will be over and as the youngest son he’ll be forced to obey his father and join the church. But a life of celibacy doesn’t appeal. Nathanial has never even kissed another man, fearing for his soul and his reputation.

Jericho Fulbright has never lived a wholesome life. After behavior unbecoming he was discharged from the army and sent home in disgrace. His inventor and nouveau riche father refused to have anything to do with him, so Jericho turned to what he knew best: opium, gambling and sex.

As the owner of the Jericho Rose, a club for gentlemen who like men, he enjoys a certain notoriety. Some would say he has a golden tongue, but the truth is a succubus lives within him feeding on souls. Once he needed her help, now she is a burden that keeps him from getting close to anyone.

After the unfortunate death of a young noble man in Jericho’s bed, Nathanial is sent to investigate. He is scandalized and intrigued by Jericho, but soon realizes that Jericho could be exactly who he needs to help break the snuff case. Together they are drawn into a web of lies that will result in Jericho facing prison unless Nathanial can unmask the real creator of the snuff, a man with rank and privileges that reaches almost to the King.

For readers who love urban fantasy set in an alternate history, crime, scandal and a virgin hero.

Warning: drug use.

The Review

“A Summer of Smoke and Sin” turned out to be a downright riveting mystery! Seeing words such as:  “gentlemen’s club”, “snuff” and “succubus” may have a reader being cautious but this novel took a whole different direction.  

TJ Nichols takes us to historic London 1907 and introduces an interesting subject, the “Male Marriage Act” as opposed to the “Female Marriage Act” that failed.   It’s a time where cases involving nobleman are only handled by the “Nobility Task Force”.  The novel is packed with:  corruption, the protection of the noble and wealthy, estranged family members, secrets, drama, a unique invention and photography.  

Although the reveal of the serial murderer is known early in the story, the plot revolves around Nathanial Bayard and how he can develop a plan to catch the evil-doer who invaded his privacy. Nathanial has a dark cloud hanging over his head as he’s had his troubles with closing his cases.  He’s a hard working law officer but becomes suspicious with the force even his boss.  When Nathanial and Jericho Fulbright join forces in the investigation there is a secret between them that could destroy them both.

Jericho, being the owner of the gentleman’s club, “Jericho Rose”, has gained a very scandalous reputation but all is not what it seems.   He has a very good reason for doing what he does and it all involves the demon, Eulalia.

I was pleasantly surprised at how this novel turned out, it is well-written and became a page-turner for me.  This story has a touch of darkness, suspense, steampunk and paranormal.    I could really connect with the characters of:  Nathanial Bayard, Jericho Fulbright and Eulalia.  There’s a little twist with Jericho and Eulalia, they aren’t what they seem to be, which gives a different perspective to their characters.  I liked the gradual connection and understanding that grows between Nathanial and Jericho.  

There’s two secondary characters that deserve to be mentioned:  Nathanial’s sister, Margaret, who is his biggest supporter and is not afraid to speak her mind.  Bertie, Margaret’s husband, he goes along with Margaret but he shows his protective side when it comes to her.

I don’t if TJ Nichols has plans for Nathanial and Jericho in the future but this would be an interesting mystery series.  The cover art is a definite eye-catcher!

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams. 

Leave a Comment