To the Bone

Gay retro with a twist

by Erin O'Quinn

To the Bone - Erin O'Quinn - Gaslight Mystery
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99 USD
ISBN: 9781310365713
ePub: $ 4.99 USD
ISBN: 9781310365713
PDF: $ 4.99 USD
ISBN: 9781310365713

The time is 1923, and the place is a fantasy city in Ireland. Two unlikely men have formed a partnership: good-natured Michael, who keeps a serious secret; and sulky Simon, who has plenty of reasons to be angry at the world. Michael has stalked the standoffish Simon from the beginning, and Simon has consistently rebuffed him...yet not enough for Michael to give up a dedicated pursuit of the handsome investigator.

As private eyes, the men have a case to solve: to find more than a score of stolen paintings, and especially one small valuable work of art worth more than all the others. But the case grows more complex the deeper they look into it. Soon Michael and Simon find themselves searching not just for a thief, but for a city-wide ring of criminals. And the closer they get to the paintings, the closer they find themselves to a killer.

Into this mix steps a man named Moshe—a pesky, secretive, nosy man who is nevertheless a brilliant investigator himself. He gives both the men fits, burrowing like a tick into their very private affairs, so close they have a hard time evading him.

Can the PIs solve a series of crimes and take care of the interfering Moshe, while driving their own intense relationship all the way to the bone?

The third of the Gaslight Mystery novels

This book is on:
  • 3 To Be Read lists
Excerpt:

From Chapter Nine, "The Chess Game"

On the verge of another curse, Michael felt a slight tremble of the bed, and he knew without over-thinking it that his lover had crawled in next to him.

He continued to lie on his belly, his face turned into the pillow. Let Simon speak and act. He would merely listen. Or do whatever Simon needed from him.

“I’ve been meaning to apologize.”

Michael wisely did not answer.

“I…accidentally left my gift behind. The beautiful book. The mistake has clawed my heart. You must think me a coward and a cad.”

Still Michael waited, and then he felt the touch. Simon’s fingers lightly trailed the back of his neck, then his shoulders. His skin turned to tiny bumps from his nape to his balls; his breath came slow and labored.

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His lover’s low voice sounded muffled, strained. “You said we were starting the chess game from the first pawn move. Not my intent. I think that cannot happen anyway.”

He felt Simon lean over him and the brush of his hot mouth on the back of his ear. “The match is too even. And we are too far advanced in our moves ever to turn back to the beginning.”

Still not speaking, Michael spread his legs, ever so little. His arms, already splayed above the pillow, moved subtly toward the dowels, before he grasped them and waited.

“Mee-cha-el.” Simon’s voice held all the music of heaven, playing along his ear and down his backbone, on its way to the crack in his ass. His tongue began to trace the cleavage in his buttocks, and Michael began to shake, like a goddamn kid, unable to bear the outright pleasure of his wet mouth.

Simon had never put more than a finger near his asshole. And even then, it had been the kind of almost shy insertion a man like Michael might not even feel, his rear so pummeled for so many years by fingers, even fists of rough trade lovers. But this licking of his butt crack, this lapping and browsing of his most sensitive skin… Oh, God, he rose to it, arcing his buttocks and pushing the rim of his hole closer to the beloved mouth boasting a slick, hot tongue.

It was a few seconds only of outright bliss, but Michael’s mind and body feasted on a deep delight he’d never known. Too soon, Simon moved away. Michael felt his lover’s tangled chest hair grazing the length of his back, then his lips seeking his ear.

A whisper, a murmur, words almost unspoken. He strained to hear them.

“I admit it. I want you. I need to—to fuck you. With my tongue. With my cock. Until we both are dumb from goddamn greedy joy.”

Simon settled onto Michael’s back, lying the entire length of his body, his stiff cock riding his butt crack and his hungry mouth still in his ear.

“Open your legs. Spread your…your ass. Let me inside.”

He needed no other love play. Listening to Simon’s husky murmur, feeling his long prick slide into his waiting anus, Michael began to climax, hard, deep within his ass and spurting from his cock at the same time. He jumped and bucked; he gasped in mingled shock and ecstasy. Still Simon rode him like a hell-spawned jockey, deeper and harder, until he, too, began to sob out loud.

Afterward, Simon embraced his broad back and lay with his cock fully inside his ass. Michael felt the small throbs of his rectal muscles still responding, and he lay still as sleep, letting the song continue to play until the last chord sighed and ceased.

I love this man. An’ sometimes I think he loves me, too.

“Try to sleep.” Simon left the bed, and Michael felt his coverlet being thrown over his shoulders. Then his hand lingered on his shoulder before withdrawing. Deeply happy, Michael let sleep overcome him.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Pinkerbelle Rex on Amazon wrote:

The tremendously satisfying third book of 'The Gaslight Mysteries' series brings our two willful leads, Michael McCree and Simon Hart, full circle in their torrid love affair, and weaves yet another stimulating mystery betwixt its romance. While I hope this is not the last I see of these two charismatic men, Erin O’Quinn has proven that she knows how to wrap a tidy ribbon on the exquisite gift of this engaging series.

Beginning the morning after the endgame of the second book, Michael lies abed contemplating what the previous night's ferocious bout of lovemaking, initiated by his heretofore-reluctant partner Simon, will mean to the future of their relationship. Despite the uncharacteristic show of aggression by Simon, Michael knows that his partner’s absence means that the man is probably off recriminating himself for his blatant display of desire. Attempting to give Simon the space he needs makes peace with the true nature of his feelings toward his own sex, Michael puts his mind to finding out more about his elusive lover, like how he came about his skill of cane fighting, by which he saved Michael the prior evening.

Well-ordered Simon on his part is in turmoil, struggling as Michael imagines, and conflicted about how he can be with Michael and yet maintain his individuality. Michael seems to suck all the air from him simply by entering the same room. And how can his new partner be so easygoing, smart, and sure of himself…and of Simon, when they only met eleven days earlier? Ever the investigator Simon carefully begins to search his soul for the truth of his feelings. When twenty-five paintings are reported missing from a wealthy townsman, the new case affords Simon a temporary respite from his soul search, but an old acquaintance enters the picture and throws the new lovers into a greater turmoil.

The mysterious Moshe, a clever older man with sleuthing skills comparable to Michael’s, seems to have ferreted out the true nature of their fledgling relationship, and worse, appears to be a friend to their vanquished enemy, The Brown Man. What follows is a sublime journey deep into the hearts of Michael and Simon as they try to solve the case of the missing paintings and the mystery of Moshe’s past, while cementing their relationship under the suspended approval of a man Simon had hoped he’d never see again in his lifetime.

This third book of the series sheds an incandescent light on masculine emotion and the uncertainties embraced by all who feel the sparks of love’s tender bite for the first time. The multiple storyline adventure is given additional charm by the witty turns of phrase strewn throughout its pages. It is this tantalizing language of prose which takes this top-notch episodic mystery to a place far beyond exceptional. Once again I found myself rereading phrases and entire passages simply for the thrilling images words like “bone-handled switchblade” and eyes like “sodding British sovereigns”, brought forth. No almost about it, Erin O’Quinn definitely has the Irish gift of the Blarney in her writing. The sublime subtly of the language used to express the two leads' desire to fornicate holds more heat than many actual sex scenes I’ve read in other books; the sentiment of passion bringing the familiar to mind exquisitely with an extra spark of delight by the author’s enchanting delivery.

Poignant romance between two very diverse leads, dynamic emotional tension, scintillating sex scenes and not one, but several mysteries to solve, punctuated with exceptional prose, make for an outstanding and satisfying addition to the series. Oh I know I was supposed to say conclusion, but one can always hope, can’t one? Erin O’Quinn, you’ve done it again, and I heartily thank you for it.

“Clever, Sparkling, Amorous”

Susan Wilson on Amazon wrote:

To The Bone, the third book in Erin O'Quinn's Gaslight Mystery series, is proof that sequels can equal and in some ways outstrip the previous books. Relationships are at the forefront here, though there is plenty of action, too. Erin's depth of understanding of, and ability to lay bare, those relationships cuts `to the bone' with precision and eloquence. She never fails to provide a fully-realized world in which her stories take place, and the town of Dun Linden, Ireland in 1923 continues to intrigue and delight. In Sparring With Shadows, book 2, Simon Hart and Michael McCree were responsible for the capture and arrest of the Brown Man, and To The Bone picks up the next morning, a seamless continuation of the story.

In the midst of coming to terms with who and what he is, Simon finds himself standing between two men, one reappearing from his past and the other inhabiting his present. Both men have claims on his time, his loyalty, and his heart. They are not enemies, but they are often opponents in Simon's struggle for self-acceptance, and Simon must walk a very fine line in order to retain his individuality rather than surrendering his sense of self to either.

Michael must also come to terms with the changes in his life that knowing Simon has created. In response to Simon, Michael is reshaping himself, his attitudes, and his accustomed manner of dealing with his sexual urges. Change is never comfortable, but is often necessary, and Michael finds himself engaging in subtle but potent games of cat and mouse with his partner, the man he has come to understand that he loves.

The Brown Man, despite his defeat in Sparring With Shadows, remains a force to be reckoned with; his shadows are as long and difficult to dispel as the shadows of shifting identity both Simon and Michael must make their ways through. There are new criminals to be brought to justice as well, and as always, Erin O'Quinn's rich tapestry of time and place complements the storyline.

Though To The Bone completes the story of Simon Hart and Michael McCree in ways that the first two books did not, I sincerely hope that we've not seen the last of these two marvelous men, and this fascinating setting. Five stars for a delightful story and five `sizzles' for the love play.

"Bo" on Amazon wrote:

With a new day to keep pursuing their unsolved mysteries and growing love life, private investigators Michael McCree and Simon Hart encounter their most confounding, and deeply personal, crisis yet--the arrival of a man from the past who will turn Simon's life upside down forever and challenge Michael to hold his lover more tightly than ever so that they never part.

This is either the perfect ending to a remarkable trilogy or a suitable tease for the next installment. No matter what the case, I was enthralled by its authenticity, its plotline, and its beautiful handling of love between men in an era and country where it was dangerous to be seen in such company. What struck me most, however, was that I discovered author Quinn's blog after I finished this tale, tears in my eyes and hope in my heart that she would continue the series.

That blog...is so remarkable in many respects but mostly in that she uses photos to pictorialize her heroes and her scenes--and they were virtually identical to who and what I imagined them to be!

Any writer who can do that deserves all that we can give her--which is the highest praise for her work and our prayers that she continues.


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 40 published works for adults, 31 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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