Review: Who Speaks for the Damned by C.S. Harris + Giveaway

Review: Who Speaks for the Damned by C.S. Harris + GiveawayWho Speaks for the Damned (Sebastian St. Cyr, #15) by C.S. Harris
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, historical mystery
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #15
Pages: 336
Published by Berkley on April 7, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Sebastian St. Cyr investigates the mysterious life and death of a nobleman accused of murder in this enthralling new historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Why Kill the Innocent....

It's June 1814, and the royal families of Austria, Russia, and the German states have gathered in London at the Prince Regent's invitation to celebrate the defeat of Napoléon and the restoration of monarchical control throughout Europe. But the festive atmosphere is marred one warm summer evening by the brutal murder of a disgraced British nobleman long thought dead.

Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father. Few in London were surprised when they heard the ne'er-do-well had died in New South Wales in 1799. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow--a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas's body is discovered.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun. With Calhoun's help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl's ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first.

My Review:

Once upon a time, the author of the Sebastian St. Cyr series described how she came to write St. Cyr and his series. She said that she wanted to create a character who seemed, on the surface, to be the epitome of the Regency hero; tall, dark, handsome and brooding. (I think with emphasis on the brooding.) But then to explicitly NOT make him the hero of a Regency romance. Thus was Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, born.

A much later description of Devlin referred to him as Darcy with more than a touch of James Bond, but that doesn’t really feel right. St. Cyr seems to have always been carrying too much emotional baggage to have ever been Darcy, while his adventures and investigations take him into much darker places than Bond usually goes and afford him considerably fewer technological toys – even ones that would have existed in the Regency.

St. Cyr relies on his instincts, his brains and his considerable ability to fight as dirty as necessary, whether that fight involves fisticuffs, social exposure or politics – as much as he hates the latter options when needed.

When his story began in 2005 – or in 1811 in St. Cyr’s world, England was on the brink of the Regency and St. Cyr was a battle-scarred veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, unable to settle or sleep, wracked with PTSD after his life-altering experiences in a war that had not yet ended. (Even by the time period of this 15th book in the series, 1814, the war is still not over. It is merely in abeyance during Napoleon’s exile on the island of Elba.)

St. Cyr, as the heir to an earldom, should be one of the Regency dandies that appear in the pages of so many romances set in the period. Instead, he has become an unofficial and unpaid murder investigator with the help of the head of the newly formed police agency at Bow Street. His membership at the highest levels of the aristocracy allows him to poke his nose into many, many places where a simple copper would be thrown out the back door.

Even his father-in-law, the Prince Regent’s cousin and spymaster Jarvis, is forced to deal with St. Cyr whether he likes it or not. And he definitely does not.

This latest entry in the series is an enthralling mystery that does an especially good job of exposing the glitter of the Regency Era as the bio-luminescence of something rotting in the dark, as St. Cyr finds himself investigating the death of a man who is all too much like the one that he sees in his own mirror. There but for the grace of god, and just a few scraps of luck that turned good instead of bad, would have gone St. Cyr.

It’s a case he can’t let go of, no matter how many times he’s warned off. And no matter how high the halls of power that he needs to bring low.

Escape Rating A+: It should be fairly clear that this is one of my favorite series. In fact, if it isn’t clear already, as part of my Blogo-Birthday Celebration I ONLY review stuff I really, really love. After all, this is my birthday and the blog’s birthday and why shouldn’t I treat myself to some books and authors that I know I’ll love?

Especially since this whole week is a hobbit’s birthday, meaning that I give presents instead of getting them. It just wouldn’t do to give away books I don’t utterly adore.

What I love about this series in general, and it’s certainly exemplified by this entry, boils down to two things. One is certainly the development of the characters. St. Cyr and his wife Hero have created a partnership of equals in a way that doesn’t often happen in historical romance. They have both come through dark places and dark things, and found each other in spite of people and circumstances that stood in their way.

They both carry a lot of baggage, and it is not a weight that either can carry FOR the other. Rather, carrying it together lightens the load. I also have to say that more than either Darcy or Bond, the character that St. Cyr most often reminds me of is Roarke from the In Death series. They share the same kind of darkness in their pasts, and they both work on expiating their demons in the same ways. They have also both formed strong partnerships with women who were initially on opposing sides from themselves.

The other thing that makes this series so strong is its setting. It is so much the opposite of what we think of the Regency as being. There was so much glitter at the top, and so much rot underneath. The murder in this story is a case in point. The powers-that-be have already decided who MUST be guilty, regardless of who is actually guilty. The attitudes reflected by our protagonists resonate with 21st century readers and yet feel part and parcel of their time and place.

Wrong is always wrong. Murder is always murder. No matter who the victim was, or what they, themselves might have done. That St. Cyr sees so much of himself in this particular victim adds to the poignancy of the whole story.

In the end, good triumphed, at least temporarily. Evil got its just desserts. And the powers that be blame St. Cyr for righting a wrong that many would have preferred to bury. A combination of things as they should be with the acknowledgement that many in power do not desire that outcome.

While I am eagerly awaiting St. Cyr’s next case, probably this time next year, I’m offering one lucky reader the chance to either begin this marvelous series or pick up wherever they might have left off. This is a series where you do need to at least start at the beginning. I read the first few, lost track of the series in the middle and have returned for the last several and have enjoyed every single one since I returned.

I hope that the winner of this giveaway will too.

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Worth Melting For Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Worth Melting For Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

It’s April Fools’ Day, we’re all quarantined in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and I don’t know about you, but the thing that really feels like its melting is our brains. Also it’s raining. Again. It’s WAY too late for snow in this neck of the woods.

Or, to put it another way, our 90-day trial of 2020 is now officially over, and no one knows where to send it back to get a do-over.

But it’s finally April. We can hope that things will look up. That the sun will come out tomorrow. That the dawn will come. We WILL get through this.

And in the meantime there are books. And giveaways for more books. And giveaways for gift cards for – you guessed it – more books.

Today I’m giving away the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a book, up to $10 in value from the Book Depository. This giveaway is available wherever the Book Depository ships in this big wide and somewhat shut down and shut in world.

This is also day 3 of my annual Blogo-Birthday Celebration Week. There’s a giveaway here at Reading Reality every day this week. Monday’s giveaway is a $25 Amazon Gift AND $25 in Books. Tuesday’s giveaway is the winner’s choice of books by one of my favorite new authors. Thursday’s and Friday’s giveaways will be books from a couple of my long-standing favorite authors. So check out the giveaways! No fooling!

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MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Early Blogo-Birthday Celebration + Giveaway

On April 4, 2011, the very first post on Reading Reality went live. That was back when the blog was called “Escape Reality, Read Fiction” after a saying I found on a t-shirt. At the time I started the blog, the country was still reeling from the “Great Recession” and a book blog was a way to keep my hand in the book world – and give myself something to occupy me intellectually, during a period when we had just moved cities (AGAIN!) and jobs were hard to come by. And doesn’t it seem like the more things change, the more they remain the same?

Nine years and three cross-country moves later, the blog is still going strong!

My birthday happens to be April 5, hence the term Blogo-Birthday was born. I celebrate these anniversaries by giving stuff away – as a way of thanking all of my readers and followers who have found Reading Reality over the years and stuck around to see what happens next.

What happens this week will be a series of giveaways. Today I have two giveaways, one for a $25 Amazon Gift Card and one for $25 in books from either the Book Depository or, for those in the U.S. $25 in books delivered from the book store of your choice. If you have a local bookstore that’s doing mail order, I’ll have the books or a gift certificate sent to you from them. If you don’t have a local of your own, then you can choose from one of the big regional bookstores like Tattered Cover or Powell’s, or get your books from the Book Depository. But books you will get!

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Snow Much Fun Giveaway Hop

 

Welcome to the Snow Much Fun Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

This is always a weird hop for me. Snow can be much fun, as long as one is inside watching it fall instead of outside trying to deal with it. But snow here in Atlanta is such a rare event that it is pretty much ALWAYS fun.

Very much on my other hand, at the moment we are all supposed to be staying in and watching whatever fall. That “whatever” being COVID-19.

And even as someone who normally works from home and doesn’t go out a whole lot, it is VERY different to be in the house because I have to be as opposed to because I want to be. That it’s expected to be a “gloomy Gus” of a week here weatherwise does not exactly help. If we’d wanted to live someplace where the weather is gray and gloomy, we’d have stayed in either Anchorage or Seattle. But the weather certainly fits the week and the mood.

But this does make for a GREAT time to stay in and READ. So if you’re looking to get a new book or two (or two dozen!) to tide you over, winning either the Amazon Gift Card or the Book should be a bit of help in that goal!

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For more fabulous prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Leaping Leprechauns Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Leaping Leprechauns Giveaway Hop, hosted by Review Wire Media and Chatty Patty’s Place!

The image that most people have of St. Patrick’s Day, at least in the U.S., is either leprechauns, parades, or possibly bars. Although, since St. Patrick’s Day is a Tuesday this year, maybe no so many bars this time around.

But I lived in Chicagoland, the greater Chicago area, for, let’s just say a lot of years. So my own personal image of St. Patrick’s Day is always this one, when they dye the Chicago River bright, brilliant green!

But on this hop, in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, you have the opportunity to win just a little bit of green yourself. Either in the form of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository. All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter below.

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And for more fabulous prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


OMG It’s a Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the OMG It’s a Giveaway Hop, hosted by Review Wire Media and Chatty Patty’s Place!

As if that wasn’t enough, today is also Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day can be such a fraught holiday. If you don’t have someone, the entire day is a constant and generally unwelcome reminder. If you’re in the early stages, it feels like pressure to get the holiday right. If you’ve been partnered for a long time, there can be even more expectations and disappointments.

Or it might be a breeze for you and yours.

Then there’s the question of what to get your someone for the day. Flowers? Chocolate? Dinner out – which is going to be a real zoo as this year Valentine’s Day is a Friday – and Friday night dinner out is already a zoo.

I always loved to get flowers for Valentine’s Day, but they would be sent to my work. Now that I work from home, that’s a problem instead of an option. Not that I wouldn’t still love flowers, but there’s no place safe from the cats. That’s just a mess waiting to happen. And it would. It so would.

What about you? What would you rather receive for Valentine’s Day? Answer in the rafflecopter for a chance at my usual prize, the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository.

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For more terrific prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


The Cat’s Meow Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the The Cat’s Meow Giveaway Hop,  hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

Not all cats actually “meow” – or even make a sound remotely equivalent. Our current clowder certainly doesn’t.

Both Freddie and Hecate “cry”. It’s kind of a whine that seems to either mean, “Where are you, my human?” or “Where am I, I’m lost and can’t find you.” Mind you, they are lost and can’t find us while we’re all in the same house. Lucifer, on the other hand, is a silent little demon. He doesn’t make much noise at all, and he certainly doesn’t meow or cry or whine. He still has plenty of ways of letting us know that we’ve been “stupid humans” and that he wants something right now.

Speaking of cats wanting things right now, My very first cat meowed. He also screamed, quite loudly. And he could say “now”, except he usually said it as “NOW!” at high volume. His name was Licorice, he was the cat of my heart, and thinking of him still makes me tear up. It’s been 25 years since he went to the Rainbow Bridge, and I still miss him.

Not that Lucifer doesn’t do his best to console me as often as felinely possible. He’s the first cat since Licorice where I’m his person. There have been plenty of others in our life, and I’ve loved them all, but for the most part they have loved Galen best and that’s okay.

On a cheerier note, here’s something definitely feline related that once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee. Also it’s true. The word “homeowner” has MEOW in the middle. Home for us is where the cats are.

But to celebrate ALL the pets in your lives, fill out the rafflecopter for a chance at your choice of $10 Amazon Gift Card or a book up to $10 from the Book Depository. And it doesn’t even have to be about cats!

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For more fabulous prizes be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

Back in Black by Rhys Ford: The Blog Tour

It is my very, make that my extremely great pleasure to welcome Rhys Ford back to Reading Reality! Today is the Grand Opening for the tour for her latest book, the coming-real-soon-now first book in the McGinnis Investigations series, Back in Black. I’m thrilled to have her here today and so very pleased that Cole McGinnis, his partner (now husband) Kim Jae-Min, and their feline overlord Neko are coming back for more hair-raising adventures that I practically begged to be on the tour. My review of Back in Black will be posted next week, but in the meantime, here’s Rhys with the first part of a teaser short story, a few things to say, and a giveaway!

Take it away, Rhys!

Hello! And thank you for joining the Back in Black Blog Tour! My name is Rhys Ford and I will be your guide through this serialized short story featuring Cole McGinnis and his trip to the altar. Hit each blog stop for the next bit of the story AND as a special bonus, Greg Tremblay has narrated each “slice of cake” on this wedding tour!

As some of you know, Cole McGinnis is a former LAPD detective who found love again in a romance suspense series called the Cole McGinnis Mysteries or as I call it, the Dirty Series. It is there he meets and falls in love with Kim Jae-Min, a Korean photographer with a few secrets of his own and a tiny black cat with an attitude. I left Cole and Jae in quite a happy place five years ago in Los Angeles with a promise to come back and “reboot” Cole’s life in a mystery series.

(You can find the first series here at Dreamspinner Press, including a special free bonus collection of shorts in both ebook and audiobook format) 

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cole-mcginnis-mysteries-6335-s

If you’ve already met Cole, well then I am happy to announce he’s back and well, while things are a little bit different… and he’s a hair older… his life is still as insanely jam-packed with action and more than a few mysteries to figure out. All of the old gang is back along with a few new faces and I hope you all enjoy Back in Black as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And as if Cole wasn’t fun enough to write, Greg Tremblay is back as Cole McGinnis in the upcoming audiobook which is supposed to be out on Feb 13th! If you aren’t a part of my Facebook group or follow me on social media, please be sure to find me to learn about any future stuff. Because 2020 is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

As always, there is a giveaway! Please Please fill out the rafflecopter to enter to win a $25 Gift Certificate to the online store of your choice!

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Nothing Else Matters: Part One

Audio Snippet Link: https://rhysford.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/pt1_bib_wedding.mp3 

“I swear to God, Dawson,” I shouted over the gunfire. “If you get me killed before my own damned wedding, I’m going to come back and haunt you every time you have sex!”

“Since I’m married to your damned brother, pretty sure if I get you killed, I won’t be having sex ever again, asshole!” My best friend yelled back, grabbing at the back of my head to shove me down. “Stay down. They’re coming back around!”

When he wasn’t having sex with Ichi, my younger brother, or beating me up at JoJo’s Boxing Gym, Bobby spent most of his free time lifting weights or coaching young rugby players on how to bulk up and increase their stamina. He practiced what he preached and for someone nearly twenty years older than me, there was power in those muscular arms of his. Okay, even if he were my age or younger, his strength was plenty impressive and that shove to the back of my head? Brought my nose right down into the rough cracked asphalt. 

I was never one to worry about my looks but something told me if I showed up at the altar with road rash all over my face, Jae was going to make me wish I had been shot in the middle of Chinatown.

The side of the minivan we’d chosen to take cover behind was taking hard hits, the metal punched through with round after round of whatever it was the two men across the street were shooting. Around us, the sidewalks were nearly empty, having moments ago been sparsely populated by early morning shoppers looking for a bargain among the stalls set up in a side alley. 

Our one almost perfect escape route had been cut off by an old woman who’d taken one look out of her store, spotted what was going on and hastily rolled down the steel door, sealing herself in. Or possibly giving herself enough time to skip out of the back entrance and down the alleyway to get a cup of coffee. Either way, Bobby and I weren’t going to be able to cut through her shop and get out of the line of fire.

“Do you even know these guys?” I yelled into the road I lay face down on. The street sweepers hadn’t been by in years. Either that or someone nearby was still stocking orange Sno-bals and blue-papered cigarettes because that’s what was keeping me company against the curb. 

“Might have arrested them a few times,” Bobby confessed. “Or maybe double crossed them when I worked undercover. Does it really fucking matter now, Princess?”

Sure, my stint with the LAPD lasted long enough for me to gain a few enemies but Bobby seemed to have gone out of his way to piss people off when he wore a badge. Okay, so he pissed people off long after he retired too but chances are, the two guys in hoodies and floppy pants weren’t ticked off because he sniped their boyfriends at a club. And while those days were long over following his marriage — or at least they should be over — there wasn’t any guy worth killing over.

Okay, maybe Jae but if I didn’t get out of Chinatown in the next hour or so, the angry guys with guns would be the least of my worries.

If you want the rest of the story – and you know you do – follow the TOUR!


Back in Black

There are eight million stories in the City of Angels but only one man can stumble upon the body of a former client while being chased by a pair of Dobermans and a deranged psycho dressed as a sheep.

That man is Cole McGinnis.

Since his last life-threatening case years ago, McGinnis has married the love of his life, Jae-Min Kim, consulted for the LAPD, and investigated cases as a private detective for hire. Yet nothing could have prepared him for the shocking discovery of a dead, grandmotherly woman at his feet and the cascade of murders that follows, even if he should have been used to it by now.

Now he’s back in the dark world of murder and intrigue where every bullet appears to have his name on it and every answer he digs up seems to only create more questions. Hired by the dead woman’s husband, McGinnis has to figure out who is behind the crime spree. As if the twisted case of a murdered grandmother isn’t complicated enough, Death is knocking on his door, and each time it opens, Death is wearing a new face, leaving McGinnis to wonder who he can actually trust.

Purchase Back in Black at Dreamspinner, Amazon (Globally) and other online book stores: 

Dreamspinner Press (https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/back-in-black-by-rhys-ford-11514-b)

Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Back-Black-McGinnis-Investigations-Book-ebook/dp/B07YZLRMPG)

Back in Black Audiobook can be preordered here: https://www.amazon.com/Back-Black-McGinnis-Investigations-Book-ebook/dp/B07YZLRMPG

About Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and is a two-time LAMBDA finalist with her Murder and Mayhem novels. She is also a 2017 Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards for her novels Ink and Shadows and Hanging the Stars. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.

She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Harley, a grey tuxedo with a flower on her face, Badger, a disgruntled alley cat who isn’t sure living inside is a step up the social ladder as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.

Rhys can be found at the following locations:

Blog: www.rhysford.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rhys.ford.author
Facebook Group: Coffee, Cats, and Murder: https://www.facebook.com/groups/635660536617002/

Twitter: @Rhys_Ford

For more information and to keep track of his upcoming releases, visit Greg Tremblay at: https://gregtremblay.com/

Welcome Winter Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Welcome Winter Giveaway Hop, hosted by Review Wire Media and Chatty Patty’s Place!

This is the perfect day for this hop. At least from a certain shivery perspective. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Atlanta it has been unseasonably warm for the past week. Sometimes wet and gloomy, but into the 60s. Shirtsleeve weather even in the evening.

And it all ends just as this hop opens, and temps are expected to drop like a rock – or maybe a hailstone – over the next week. It’s more than enough to make a person think seriously about global warming – because the summer will probably be brutal.

Nevertheless, the thing I love about living around here is that we have four seasons but winter isn’t terribly wintry – all things considered. Not like some other places I’ve lived in and shivered through.

But winter does have some upsides. It does get cool enough that we get out the “cushy” blankets, which brings the cats back into the bed. A purring snugglebunny is a lovely way to end the day!

What about you, what’s your favorite thing about winter? Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at the usual Reading Reality prize, your choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository anywhere that the Book Depository ships.

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For more fabulous – if possibly somewhat chilly prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Best of 2019 Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Best of 2019 Giveaway Hop, Hosted by Bookhounds.

Every year has its highs and its lows, its bests and its worsts – and 2019 was no exception. But 2019 is over, and its time to take a look back – at least at the books.

This blog hop is all about those best books list that everyone does at the end of the year. My list was posted as Best of My 2019 on Boxing Day (12/26) 2019. Since I just couldn’t reduce the damn thing to only 10 books, it’s long. It’s really, really long.

And that’s all to the good for you. Because the prize in this particular hop is whichever book from that list you want, either in print or ebook. If you would really rather have a $10 Amazon Gift Card I’ll send the winner one of those instead, but I really want to share my favorite books. So if you say you want a book, it will be the currently available print copy – paperback if there is one, hardcover if there isn’t. Unless you are in the US and want an ebook. I don’t think I can send ebooks outside the US, but the giveaway is open to everyone so print (up to $25) is probably the best option.

Now it’s up to you. I want to share my favorites with you, and my list was long enough that there is plenty to choose from, at least something from most genres. And all good! So tell me which book you would want in the rafflecopter below and cross your fingers!

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For more best books and best bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!