The Jackal’s House

by Anna Butler

The Jackal's House - Anna Butler
Part of the Lancaster's Luck series:
Editions:ePub - First Edition: $ 6.95
ISBN: 9781635339444
Pages: 420
Kindle: $ 6.95
ISBN: B076DN9181
Pages: 420
Paperback: $ 13.99
ISBN: 978-1-63533-943-7
Pages: 310

Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy…

Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.

Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?

This book is on:
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Excerpt:

I like kissing.

Like Ned, I’d spent years in hiding. His constraint had been matrimony and the sense of honor and duty that would never have allowed him to be unfaithful to the mother of his sons. Only her untimely death had released those bonds. Mine had been less noble: I had no desire for a court-martial and a dishonorable discharge from Her Imperial Majesty’s Aero Corps. Most of my encounters over the years had been quick and furtive, but I’d taken every chance I could to practice my technique.

I not only liked kissing, I was good at it.

Fast little kisses to start with, kisses that barely made contact with the skin of Ned’s throat, kisses meant to tease. He tilted his head back to let me in, closing his eyes. His mouth opened on a soft sigh. I hoped he was giving himself up to the pleasure, losing himself in it, that nothing mattered to him at that moment except the feel of my mouth on his throat and lips. I hoped so. I wanted to please him.

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I kissed and licked the delicate skin under his ear until he choked with laughter at the tickling. He tightened his grip on my hands and tugged at them until I raised my head. Ha! He’d lulled me into trusting him there and took full advantage of it. He swooped to capture my mouth with his, cutting off breath and thought, bringing a dizzying warmth with his hot tongue, and making me moan.

Of course, they were very manly moans.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Romantic Times on Romantic Times wrote:

4 stars
Butler complicates and expands the steampunk world of her wildly inventive Lancaster’s Luck series to such an extent that even fans may want to brush up on their politics before embarking on this second adventure. The reward, though, is a complex and swift-moving adventure with plenty of arch humor, and a charming romance with two sharp-witted and intrepid gentlemen explorers. Though there are times when the language and slang used sound anachronistic, which can be jarring, Butler’s charming hero is the perfect guide through this high-stakes imperial quest.

Rafe Lancaster has been enjoying running his coffee house, and savoring the charms of his beloved Ned Winter in peace, until he finds his relationship and livelihood threatened by the machinations of the Houses of the Brittanic Imperium. Encouraged to join Ned on his next archeological expedition, Rafe finds a new kind of danger waiting for him. A series of “accidents” have beset the expedition, and the figure of the jackal-headed god Anubis seems to be angered by their presence. But when the life of Ned’s son is threatened, Rafe knows he will brave anything — god or man — to set things right.

2Shay on Chez Shez Online Book Reviews wrote:

5 stars

When I was much younger, I was fascinated by everything Egyptian. I grabbed every book with a sphinx or pyramid on the cover, every book with a mention of archeologists or Egyptologists in the blurb. It wasn’t that I was so interested in ancient Egyptian history, but the characters who would put their lives in danger to face down the curses and plagues and dangers facing those who dared to dig in ancient places. At some point, when I had consumed many, many books, some of them not that good, that I finally moved on. Anna Butler, with her steampunk enhanced story has brought back every bit of my fascination.

Since I have gotten through my initial OMG reaction to my first steampunk novel in book one of this series, The Gilded Scarab, I can concentrate on this incredible story. After some manipulation, not by Rafe, he has the opportunity to become Ned’s pilot and spend the winter with him and his team in Egypt. Rafe and Ned are both delighted not to be separated for months, although Rafe is a bit worried about leaving his coffeehouse. He is even more worried when he learns that Ned’s six year old son, Harry, will be going with them. Rafe isn’t much interested in kids, knows nothing about them and fears he will be an unwelcome interference. The kid also brings his dog, Molly.

Strange things start to happen almost immediately. Most of the odd and unexpected occurrences happen to the villagers who live near the dig and have been employed by Ned to assist with the excavation. While those things are bad and costly to the villagers, there was no immediate threat to Ned and his team. However, Ms. Butler has drawn the villagers so well, that their pain was tangible. Darn, I can’t say much else without getting into some serious spoilers. I will say that it doesn’t stop there and pretty much everyone finds themselves in danger at different times. I’ll move on.
Rafe’s relationship with Ned has blossomed since they first began to connect in book one. As I mentioned in my review of book one, The Gilded Scarab, there are a few fairly explicit sex scenes. The sex is handled with tenderness between two men who truly love each other, and rivals the best sex scenes in all of fiction. Rafe and Ned’s relationship includes sex, but is so much more.

“I’d never had this before, the sort of relationship and companionship where sex wasn’t the be-all and end-all of it. Sex wasn’t what loving Ned meant. This was. This quietness, this contentment, knowing that it was Ned’s hand gentling me into sleep, Ned’s breath stirring my hair, Ned’s warm arms enfolding me”.

That’s so sigh worthy, and just a small sample of a beautifully written love story that is bursting with style and talent. This story is so good, so well done that adequate words are hard to find. By the way, both Rafe and I fell completely in love with Harry and his little dog, Molly. I think you will, too!

Pick up a copy and…

Enjoy!

Sinfully MM Book Reviews on Sinfully MM Book Reviews wrote:

Sally’s Review 4 1/2 stars

It seems ages since we were first introduced to the amazing and dangerous world described in the first volume of Anna Butler's Lancaster's Luck series. I've been trying to contain my excitement about book two – quite poorly I admit - because she's been producing more of her excellent Taking Shield sci fi dramas. But finally book two – The Jackal's House – is here and OH there's so much packed into that title!

First a little recap on Book One – The Gilded Scarab – because world building is key with this kind of book. What we have is late Victorian England but with the full panoply of steampunk technology. Discovery of new elements and cold fusion has enabled amazing machines to be built to travel by land, sea and air and new and terrifying weapons to be built. Add to this a few tweaks to the socio-political structure of the country – instead of an elected Parliament there is a Convocation of highly competitive aristocratic Houses which have taken responsibility for different departments of government - and you have a bellicose culture that would make Machiavelli say "Oh steady on chaps!" Naturally England is at war and naturally younger sons are packed off into the forces to cut down on filial conflict. Luckily this suited Rafe Lancaster, our first person narrator, because he always wanted to fly – unluckily, at the beginning of book one he suffered an injury that left his eyes permanently damaged and left him at odds with his family. Due to his own sheer nerve, some luck and some string pulling behind the scenes, he ends book one in possession of a popular coffee shop opposite the Imperial Museum in Bloomsbury, a high born and archaeologically inclined lover, Ned Winter Aegyptologist and Heir to Gallowglass House, and friends in high places, including Rafe's own ultimate boss, the terrifying Stravaigor. Or is he a friend? He could just be using Rafe for his own ends. Rafe doesn't care as long as he has his lovely Ned and opportunities to appreciate him as he deserves.

This book begins not that long after the first one ends, with Rafe's happy world being overturned as he realises that Ned will soon be leaving him to head an archaeological dig out in Aegypt. There is much angst, more of that filial conflict as Rafe butts heads with anyone who tries to impose a bit of House loyalty on him, an interview with the Stravaigor that must make Rafe feel as though he's being put out to stud, machinations, double dealing and shenanigans – and Rafe goes to Aegypt too. There the machinations continue because their dig site seems to be haunted, there's a series of pranks escalating in danger and at least one murder attempt. Rafe has to try to keep Ned safe, negotiate with Ned's ferocious small son, keep control of said son's dog, while aware that the Stravaigor could call in a favour at any moment and helped and hindered by a memorable cast of secondary characters.

I enjoyed the depiction of early 20th century archaeology enormously – Howard Carter even makes a guest appearance - and the often very bitchy interactions between the French and English digs and the procrastination of the Aegyptian director all too aware that his country is being looted rang very true. Having Rafe as the narrator made it all the more amusing because he knows very little about the business and so the reader finds out what's going on as he does, thus avoiding info dumps. I thought this worked very well. I also loved the politics of it. First century Rome has got nothing on this bunch, offend the wrong person at a garden party and your family tree could be grubbed up, root to twig. No spoilers, of course, but this book ends with a very interesting situation that promises absolute dynamite in book three.

One caveat – this book has some tender scenes between Rafe and Ned and a few where they grab the opportunity to go at it like stoats but it's more of an adventure with oodles of plot and action AND the continuation of a loving relationship than a category romance.

It's glorious and now I'm going to have to wait for book three. Fingers crossed it's not too long

Love Bytes on Love Byte Reviews wrote:

5 stars

I can’t remember what prompted me read the first book in this series, The Gilded Scarab (not The Golden Scarab, like my brain insist on calling it), but I have been a huge fan since that first read. The alternate steampunky 19th century England was so my jam it isn’t even funny. And not only was it like everything I love about steampunk-style books, but the story was interesting and kinda unique. The characters, especially the main hero Rafe, were perfect fits for the world and the story being told. It was a lot of fun, and every time I got to the end I was really sad that there wasn’t more about Rafe, Ned, and all the various side characters that bring that story to life.

And then, after a couple years of what I assumed was pointless waiting, I found out that The Jackal’s House was due to come out soon.

*throws confetti into the air*

I was thrilled. I needed it right then. I couldn’t wait to see what happens next. And while it started off a bit slow, it built up nicely to what I think was an excellent sequel and what I can only hope (and near demand) is but the second chapter in at least a trilogy if not more.

If you haven’t read the Gilded Scarab (and this is me giving you the judgy face) stop now. Go read it. Come back when you’ve had like 10 cups of book-induced coffee, and have caught up. For everyone else:

This picks up not long after the events in book one. And the first section of this story is basically dealing with the fallout of various actions taken in that book, as well as giving us an introduction to Ned’s oldest child, Harry. Who is kinda adorable, even I have to admit to that. For Ned, most things are going on as normal (or as normal as they can get for the Heir to one of the Great Houses), but poor Rafe is being dragged further down the rabbit hole of his own House. Much to Rafe’s (and the current House heir, John) very vocal displeasure. So when Ned announces that it is time again to head back to Aegypt for his annual archaeological dig, Rafe is a bit…um, disappointed. Sad, even. But events (and politics) conspire to send Rafe as well–which thrills Ned to no end. Harry, Ned’s son, is less sold on the idea. But Ned is sure that Rafe can win the kid around. Ned is ever the optomist. So off to Aegypt they go.

From there, let’s just say that trouble is not native to Londinium.

As I said before, this does have a bit of a slow start (though no where near as slow as book one), but it ends up setting up the story well for what is to come. As things get more and more involved in Aegypt the tension grows and grows, and I really like that by the time it snaps you are just so damn ready for Rafe to shoot someone already.

I will say that the twist in this is something I most definitely should have seen coming, but didn’t. I kinda had inklings that something was up, and some of the players are pretty obvious, but I really liked how the book faked us out for a long enough time that when the reveal happened it was more surprising than I expected. And by the time I got to the end of this story I kinda wanted to go back and start the series all over again so I can see the groundwork for all this with this new knowledge. It is clearly there, but it was subtle enough that I missed or didn’t think a lot of it was important. Rereads for this series are going to be fun next time.

If you liked the first book in this series, I can’t help but think you will like this one as well. It is a bit better paced as well. There is no sudden “and now this is an action movie” twist near the end like in book one. Here it is a gradual build up to the climax instead of it coming out of nowhere. The characters are just as good. There wasn’t as much character building there as I would have liked, but they are still very enjoyable people to spend a couple hours with. And while Harry could have easily annoyed me–as most children do–he was used very well in the story. You like him enough, and you can clearly see the affection (even the reluctant affection of Rafe’s part) the characters have for him, but he isn’t the center of the story. That is still very much Rafe and Ned and their lovely if rather complicated relationship.

I had a lot of fun with this and I hope you do to. And I’m crossing my fingers that book three will not be far over the horizon.

MelanieM on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

5 stars

Let me say right from the start The Jackal’s House by Anna Butler is just outstanding entertainment and a grand read! If you love suspense, mystery, romance, and a story full of intrigue and great world building, well, this is the one for you.

There are several things I’d like to dispense with immediately. Yes, The Jackal’s House is a sequel to The Gilded Scarab, the first Lancaster’s Luck story, however, I don’t feel it’s necessary to read that one in order to get the full enjoyment out of this tale. Anna Butler gives you the details you need (enough to make you want to read that one) and then moves you into the events unfolding here. Rafe and Ned are a newly established couple (as much as they can be in this universe) and are still working out exactly what that means to their lives in all their complicated aspects.

The next is that this is a steampunk world which envisions a universe using a different type of energy and having more elements in their scientific table. There is a comprehensive glossary in the back of the story just in case you need it. You might want to look it over first, but I didn’t really find it necessary. Why? Because the vivid descriptions which create such marvelously complete pictures in your mind give this author’s world vision flight! Just like the magnificent machine that will carry Rafe, Ned, Harry, Molly and the lot all the way to Aegypt. Butler makes this world hum and glow with aether! Even if you never thought you’d like a steampunk story before, trust me, you’ll love this one.

Why? Because of all the incredible layers. It’s not just the romance, which is touching, real, and believable. I loved Rafe and Ned, pulling towards one another against everything, including the politics of the day. No it’s their families, the whole complicated political structure Butler has created with tightly involved families (reflecting the English houses where politics and family could not be separated), and the hierarchy in which Ned and Rafe are both caught up in.

In The Jackal’s House, the characterization is superb, the plots tights and deeply layered and the suspense off the charts. And the love and romance matches it all. I want so much more!

So grab up The Jackal’s House (Lancaster’s Luck #2) by Anna Butler and prepare to fall deeply in love. I suspect you’ll find yourself heading back to pick up The Gilded Scarab like I will. If our luck holds, there will be more of the Lancasters and Ned and Rafe. And scarabs of course. They seem to go hand in hand.


About the Author

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.

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