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Sparring with Shadows

by Erin O'Quinn

Sparring With Shadows - Erin O'Quinn - Gaslight Mysteries
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9781310213892
ePub: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9781310213892

Gay retro with a twist

Something about Simon Hart’s new PI partner Michael McCree—not to mention his secret vocation—invites trouble. Simon finds himself sparring with shadows: in the hidden bedrooms of a roaring twenties version of a gay bar…as a chained wall decoration in the flat of a thief and sexual deviant…as the quarry in a deadly confrontation in an exhibitionist’s bed…and finally in a sewer tunnel beneath the streets of a 1923 city somewhere in Ireland. Above all, Simon is sparring with the shadow of his own secret urges. Michael will not allow him to turn away from a kind of private investigation of which he has not even dreamed, until now.

Follow a fastidious, surly investigator and his randy yet secretive partner through the very cracks in a city of gaslights and vintage motorcars, into a hidden homosexual culture, as both men find themselves sparring with shadows.

Second of the 5 Gaslight Mystery novels

This book is on:
  • 3 To Be Read lists
  • 1 Read list

From Chapter 9, "A Place of Refuge"

Simon felt happy. A fleeting sense of well-being, of some satisfying dream just resolved, caused him to waken slowly instead of experiencing his usual jolt into reality. He was warm. In fact, an unusual kind of heat had invaded the entire area of his groin. Instead of fighting it, he sank into it, allowing his penis to sit rigidly in a place of refuge. He pushed closer to the source of emanating warmth. And then it moved.

His haven, his harbor, seized the entire length of his flesh with a gentle squeeze, and he moaned, spurring it deeper, willing the dream to continue.

At some level, he realized he’d entered Michael, whether by his own urgent need or by his bedmate’s polished maneuvering. Other than his inner muscle’s sudden seizure, the man was not moving at all, letting Simon push into his anus and groan into his broad back.


For once in his life, Simon let his needing flesh dictate his actions. The sensation of being inside another human being had thickened him, made him harder and longer than he’d ever been. The hot walls of his lover’s rectum seemed to swell and subside, collapse and widen as he thrust himself to the very root of his testicles. And then he withdrew a few inches, only to slam himself into those walls again, plunging and battering.

Now Michael’s buttocks had begun to move in waves and swells, letting Simon ride him, urge him, run him while he cried out a name in his approaching release. The moment of climax left him shuddering in joy and disbelief, biting into the man’s back, drawing blood.
Not once had Michael uttered a word. It was as though he had slept through Simon’s own dream and now was returning to deep slumber. Grateful, Simon lay with his arms around the big man’s chest, his penis still inside the hot buttocks, listening to his own heart crash against his ribs.

Before he withdrew and rolled to the far side, Simon let his lips move against Michael’s naked shoulders. It was a silent appreciation, lasting only a few seconds, and then he escaped the large mahogany bed.

His jock strap was halfway down his shins, and his kaffies were nowhere to be seen. He let the underwear drop to the carpet. Seizing his robe from the leather chair, he shrugged it on and reached into his linen chest. Towel in hand, he left without looking back, closing the door softly behind him.

Almost running down the thinly carpeted hallway on this way to the tenants’ bathing room, Simon almost wished he’d looked back. Would Michael still have been pretending sleep? Or would he have been watching him in the soft gaslight as he made his escape?
He tried the door of the water closet, and the lever gave to his pull. Once inside the small room, he bolted the door and disrobed.
Simon stood in the small claw-footed bathtub, watching the water fill, realizing this room was the only one where he could truly be alone. Even his own bedchamber was now the stalking ground of his new roomer, a circumstance he himself had allowed to exist.
He settled into the water, letting his sticky groin become immersed in the cleansing warmth. He could lavish only about ten minutes here before the next roomer would no doubt beat on the door, demanding his turn on the toilet or in the cast iron tub.

He let his head fall back and his shoulders relax. His mouth, too, moved in an inchoate smile, remembering his astonishing climax. Michael. His conniving, experienced, constantly aroused flat-mate had maneuvered him into an act of anal intercourse.

From that moment, there could be no question as to whether Simon was a practicing omi-palone. Michael had caused him to enter a realm that set him forever after in a special niche. He had just entered the world of homosexual men. Until a while ago, Simon could still fool himself into thinking Michael had taken him by force. From now on, the conniving bastard seemed to be saying, Simon was the sodomite.

He wondered how he’d explain that to the melancholy-eyed God he sometimes prayed to.

Reviews:"Bo" on Amazon wrote:

Just when you think Michael McCree has finally snagged his business partner and oft-seduced bedmate Simon Hart into a long term relationship, all hell breaks loose in the early 1920s in a mythical Irish city.

This time it's both of them whose lives are in constant danger, to say nothing of their love life, as a new chapter evolves with the center protagonist being the Brown Man from the first book in this enchanting, exciting and extraordinarily sexy series.

With unforgettable side characters and character and landscape descriptions that are uncannily portrayed in author O'Quinn's remarkable blog ( this is a book to be consumed at one sitting and savored until you can get your hands on the next one in the game.

Susan Wilson on Amazon wrote:

Sparring with Shadows, Book 2 in the Gaslight Mysteries series, is a seamless follow-on to Heart to Hart, Book 1. Erin O'Quinn's engaging main characters, Michael McCree and Simon Hart, are still at it -- and each other -- in Ireland of 1923, going after their nemesis, the Brown Man. The Brown Man is intelligent, resourceful, very dangerous, and so well-trained that even Michael's skills may not be enough to bring him in.

As in all her books, Erin tells many stories wrapped up in one. This is not only a mystery, but also a larger, more complex tale of discovery. Both Michael and Simon have some uncharted land to explore, and Erin gives us a full-color topographical map to follow as they do. In the hill country of their working partnership, they each must gain respect for the abilities of the other; in the tidal plain that is their relationship as roommates, the line between "mine" and "yours" ebbs and flows, with neither man having a chart to follow. Both Michael and Simon have an inner landscape to delve into as well, with deep worn ruts of mistrust and doubt, with bogs of accusation and revelation, and with hard-gained groves of acceptance. Throughout this land of Erin's making are twists and turns, the unexpected often overtaking the reader as well as Simon and Michael.

Always, there is Erin's shimmering prose, her love for Ireland, her sense of place and time, her extraordinary ability to paint a full-featured minor character in a few sentences and yet have him remain minor. Her descriptions are velvet-rich but don't stop the action, whether that action be avoiding a watcher or exploring one another's bodies. This book has earned a place on my `read over and over' list, and as with Heart to Hart, I have only one problem: the book ends. But also as with Heart to Hart, there is a sequel in the works, one I'll be waiting for as eagerly as I did this one. Sometimes, sequels disappoint; this one most assuredly does not.

Griffin Garcon on Amazon wrote:

Sparring with Shadows is one of Erin's highlights. She has an extraordinary talent for weaving a tapestry of a tale. It is silky smooth, and intense at the same time, filled with luscious details of Michaels' lust and of Simon's resistance to the facts of his sexuality.

Simon's fight with his own demons makes the whole book enchanting and full of passionate spirit. Granted, i'm openly gay, and wished throughout the book for Simon to accept himself and get out of the closet already, there is more to the story.

It would be too simple for Erin to just concentrate on Simon's struggles, or Michaels' desires. There is a whole web of intrigue, and in the end, when the job is done, all you wish is to find yourself in that hot tub with that hot Pinkerton's agent and that aloof investigator.

Yeah, there is also Chanda. As sexy as he is smart and full of danger. BUT going further would be a spoiler! Strong work, friends, goof stuff!

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 with passions too big for their britches."