Heart to Hart

Gay retro with a twist

by Erin O'Quinn

Heart to Hart - Erin O'Quinn - Gaslight Mystery
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9781311014696
ePub: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9781311014696

Gay retro with a twist

Two unlikely men meet in 1923 Ireland.

Michael McCree seems to be a newspaperman, running from a past in Boston. He’s a lover of men and a drinker of whiskey, and yet one with some surprising depths and one huge secret.

Simon Hart is a surly, angry, altogether closeted and touch-me-not fellow, a Cambridge-educated private investigator whose business partner has been murdered. He meets Michael in a newspaper shop when turning in an obit notice.

They clash. Fisticuffs fly. And before Simon knows what’s happened, he’s gained a new flat-mate, a new business partner, and a wanna-be lover. It’s the “wanna-be” that drives the present story…and all that follow.

First of the 5 Gaslight Mystery novels.

This book is on:
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From chapter 5, "One Back-Alley Victory"

“D’ye want to know what I found out about ye, lad?” He did not wait for Simon to answer. His thumb continued from his throat to the V of his dressing gown. He slid it inside, touching cool flesh that nevertheless burned his skin. “Ye’re hard, lad. Yet soft as the silk of this robe. Ye’re a man, yet a young boy just finding what’s in his pocket.”

Ah, God, Simon’s head was bowed. He was listening.

“Please. Come lie wi’ me a while. I’ve a need to be next to ye.”

When Simon’s dark, lustrous hair touched his chest, Michael almost exploded. He put his finger under the man’s chin and raised his mouth to meet his. Simon’s surly, sulky lips were aching to be bitten, silenced into submission.


He began by putting his entire mouth over Simon’s, loving the way the other man gnashed his teeth and twisted his lips, fighting to free himself. He drew on it, long and deep, biting down until Simon’s tongue intervened. He seized the tongue, suckling it like a teat, like a soft cock.

They kissed for long moments, while Michael drew Simon’s body close to his groin. When Simon’s tongue grazed his own, Michael groaned into his mouth. “Yes, lad, yes. Come lie wi’ me a while.”

Simon broke free. He turned to the door, not looking at Michael at all. He spoke to the sitting room beyond.

“I rise early. You will find an extra flat key under the wingback seat cushion. Good night.”

He fled, while Michael stood cursing his own adamant need.

A heartbeat later, he was following Simon across the plush carpet. He caught him in the middle of the floor and brought him down from behind—hard—laying all his superior weight into Simon’s back and wedging one massive calf between his knees. Simon fought back, jamming his shoulder and elbow into his solar plexus. Michael, laughing, caught his arm and twisted it behind, knowing he had the advantage of surprise and of the other man’s sudden passion.

He twisted the man around to face him. Simon, trying not to breathe hard, lay in front of him, his eyes a molten metal, his robe open. Michael looked down at the jock strap, filled to bursting with Simon’s own insistent erection.

“God, Simon, I want ye.” With both hands he pulled the scrap of cloth down, letting it catch on the bulb of his cock, then sliding it past his balls. He left it somewhere around his calves, a reminder of the man’s athletic promise.

Here on the luxuriant carpet lay the lover he had wanted his entire life. He was tall, muscular, full of storm and fight. His cock lifted like a cudgel, a warning. His knees were up, his balls tight, hiding the sweetest part of the pie. Michael licked his lips and descended on Simon.

Holding him by the hips, Michael began to lick the long shaft. It seemed to throb as his tongue slid down the length of it, and he saw in the soft gaslight that it was almost purple with hammering blood. When he reached the balls, hard as a fist, he slicked them all the way into his mouth. Simon’s entire ass came off the rug, and Michael heard his sharp intake of breath. Slowly letting them loose, he slavered and fed again and again, slow and steady. He slid his mouth to the tip.

By now, Michael heard soft moans and felt Simon’s body rise and fall, a steady rhythm telling him how fast to go. He tongued the glans, he licked the ridge, and finally, he lapped the hard shaft.

Here was the end of the seeking because he tasted the sweet brandy on the tip of the prick. Damn! Trying to hold back, Michael began to spill, and Simon did, too. Both men poured out their passion, while the high pile rug seemed to enclose them in its thick embrace.
Michael had felt the climax as a soldier might feel the onslaught of his foe, fighting it, trying to hold out for the deep hole waiting for his flesh. But the thought of this dark, desirable man thrashing under his own moving mouth had proved his undoing. His climax was as heady, as prolonged and breath stealing as any he’d ever felt.

When it was over, Michael swallowed and pulled himself up to look at Simon’s face. The eyes were as luminous as before, but now Simon’s mouth seemed almost relaxed, accepting the unleashing of his pent up desires. His lips were swollen from Michael’s frenzied biting. He shuddered with renewed passion.

Again, Michael’s finger traced his new lover’s mouth, then his beard-roughened jaw line. “Lie wi’ me this night, Simon. I promise only to hold ye. I promise.”

Simon said nothing at all. In one lithe movement, he stood and tied the sash of his robe, miraculously still intact, and looked down at Michael.

“You will keep your distance, McCree. One yielding was a miracle. I’ll grant you one back-alley victory. Two in one evening are more than I’ll allow ever again.”

He bent to retrieve his athletic strap, then turned and walked to his room. Michael heard the latch slide shut with an emphatic slap of metal on wood.

Reviews:Passionate Reads on Amazon wrote:

Although I'm usually drawn to contemporary fiction, I decided to give this series a try because I have enjoyed several other novellas and series by Erin O'Quinn. I wasn't sure if I could immerse myself in 1920's Ireland, being only a little familiar with the period and its culture; but I needn't have worried about that.

One thing that Erin does exceptionally well is historical and sociological research; another is using vivid descriptions to bring the world of the characters to life, and fully immerse the reader in it from page one. It was remarkably easy to enjoy Heart to Hart, not only for its catchy plot and well-developed, quirky, and enigmatic characters, but also for its ability to engage every emotion in the process.

As always, in addition to humor and mild suspense, there are elements of fear, heartbreak, serious issues of trust, and - and - as only Erin can write it - intensely raw, unbridled passion with explicitly intimate, emotional sexual encounters. The sexual tension is relentless as the reluctant, fastidious Simon finds himself inexplicably drawn to the overtly sexual, alpha-male Michael, like the proverbial moth to the flame. If he gives in, will he get burned? Consumed? Or is this a new beginning for them both?

Find out for yourself - indulge in this easy-reading, intensely satisfying mystery series. It's truly unique and well worth a weekend of reading!

Susan Wilson on Amazon wrote:

Michael McCree had me from the first line: "Michael's life began all over again on Monday." A perfect way to let us know that this man has a past, and a past that hasn't been fulfilling at that, as well as anchoring the story firmly in time. Not "on that day" but Monday. *That* Monday. The rest of the book delivers the same way - solid, specific, hinting that there's much more without resorting to smoke and mirrors so that our uncovering of characters, events, motivations proceeds in perfect sync with Michael and his new partner (in every way) Simon.

Michael's skills and talents blend well with Simon's to solve several cases brought to them by Simon's clients. Erin skillfully weaves the cases in and out of the larger story of the mens' relationship with one another: how they get the kidnapped pugs back pulls Simon off the shelf crammed with stuffed shirts and shows us his fun side as well as giving us another look at his readiness and ability to take on street toughs; how they free a client from the stranglehold of blackmail moves the draperies of 'hooligan' aside so Michael's utter comfort in the world of 'uppity-muppity' golfers is revealed. Some (but not all) of the smaller cases are found to tie in to the larger issue of uncovering a murderer; Erin's skill means those tie-ins don't feel artificial. She doesn't ask us to walk a plot-pretzel to prevent a premature ending to the story; there is no 'well, why didn't they just ...?' with an elaborate - and contrived - complication that prevents their having figured everything out on page 2.

The larger story -- that of two men finding that trust does not weaken us but instead makes us strong -- is always present rather than being set down and returned to after a bit while the problems are worked on. Like their relationship, it is there in their conversations about the cases, in their visit to Michael's Pinkerton contact, in their dealings with the small spies Simon employs. Their trust, their love, unfolds at a very natural pace: there is nothing that makes us say 'come on and get on with it' or 'really? But you just met.' Erin has found the balance point and lets Michael and Simon live the story at their own pace.

Erin's balancing of description with direct action is also, in a word, elegant. She tells us enough to transport us into the book's time and place without the weight of describing each freckle Simon's small spies have. Her minor characters are just that -- they are minor and don't intrude upon the story; they are characters, not photos cut from a magazine and glued to a stick like poverty's paper dolls. The sex is well-described and explicit without being crude and draped in purple prose. Her writing throughout is pure, crisp and engaging.

My only problem with the book -- and it's one that's easily remedied -- is that it came to an end. Fortunately, there is a sequel. I'll be buying that immediately.

"Bo" on Amazon wrote:

Let us take you back to Ireland in 1923, a fictional town (read the author's reasoning, it's OK), and two absolutely masculine, dominating and seriously hot men: Rough, raw and overly sexually active Michael McCree and the reticent, heartbroken, incredibly hot but probably virginal Simon Hart (left and right respectively, I would suppose, on the cover).

Speaking of that cover, just picture the plot as outlined on the blurbs and all you have to know other than that is that you will be screaming for them to get together, but you will be stunned and gasping for air when they start to move toward that goal.

Completely imbued with a narrative that comes straight out of the Irish landscape and idiom, loosely plotted in some obvious ways, but always exciting, this one will grab you by the heart (and don't you want to know what that word comes to mean?) and deliver you quickly, and on time, to a cheerful top o'the morning smile.

Alp Mortal on Goodreads wrote:

I have been picking this book up and putting it down for months (it feels like) - always being interrupted. Finally, over the course of the last two nights, I managed to fend off all comers and read it cover to cover. OMG!!!!!!!!!!

One word ... exquisite.

Rarely have I read anything as richly embroidered on so many levels - 3D macramé I shall call this.

And the best part is that there is a whole series (Thank you, God; I knew you did love me).

First and foremost - a story that you can really get your teeth into.
Secondly - characters that live and breathe (down your neck).
Thirdly - a true romance in the budding - hot and steamy enough to cook rice but also sensual and romantic.

A stellar start to the series, which I cannot wait to devour now.

Susan Laine on Goodreads wrote:

5+. The best part of this story is the friendship and camaraderie between Michael and Simon. No two men could be more different, yet they share common traits that begin to form the basis of their relationship. Michael appears as a charming, laidback rogue with a heart of gold, but he keeps many secrets buried beneath this happy-go-lucky facade. Simon, on the other hand, seems sullen, quiet, and reserved, but when his temper flares, all bets are off. And inside, his heart is capable of great gentleness and kindness.

The erotic tension between these two runs along the length of the story, so potent it practically leaps off the pages. Michael is a fountain of sexual experiences; Simon is a virgin who desired a straight man and is now lost as to what to do next. As the two begin their sensual tango, Michael is ready, willing, and able to give Simon everything, from pleasure and comfort, to brilliant insight and strength in every sense of the word. In his confusion, uncertainty and regret, Simon takes what Michael gives, always with remorse after, slowly starting to see a world of delight ahead of him as his heart thaws and his body sparks to life. To top this off, their mutual respect and admiration also grows, giving them something to fight for.

About the Author

Erin O'Quinn was born almost literally on the side of a mountain in Nevada and was hauled kicking and screaming into the nearest town, fifty miles away, to attend first grade. To this day, she claims to be kindergarten-deprived.

O'Quinn earned a few degrees from the University of So. California, but her real education began on the back docks of the Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal newspaper; on the good-old-boy car lots in Abilene, TX where she sold new Chryslers and used cars; and in a big-box store in Austin, TX where she alternately hauled pallets and ran a garden center.

You'll find a lot of action-adventure, and a character-centered, plot-centered group of seven series and a few stand-alones

Of 46 published works for adults, 33 (I think) are in the gay lit (M/M) genre. From the Noble Dimensions series (small town/contemporary) to Old World Ireland, Jacobite-era  and modern Scotland; and back to the retro world of Ireland in the Roaring 20s, she says, "My men, and my settings, are no-frills, no hearts and flowers. But I think a certain nobility and even spiritual element often creep in among the honest sexual feelings."

Any reviews you see are unsolicited, and are always welcome.

Settle back, enjoy what Erin O'Quinn calls "literotica with a flare for the unusual...thoughtful and plotful...men with passions too big for their britches."

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