by Jess Faraday
London 1891. Former criminal Ira Adler has built a respectable, if dull, life for himself as a confidential secretary. He even sits on the board of a youth shelter. When the shelter’s landlord threatens to sell the building out from under them, Ira turns to his ex-lover, crime lord Cain Goddard, for a loan. But the loan comes with strings, and before he knows it, Ira is tangled up in them and tumbling back into the life of crime he worked so hard to escape. Two old flames come back into Ira’s life, along with a new young man who reminds Ira of his former self. Will Ira hold fast to his principles, or will he succumb to the temptations of easy riches and lost pleasures?
“So,” Goddard said, taking a long sip from his glass. “You never told me why you decided to contact me after all this time.”
“Well…” As I searched for the right words, he quietly set his drink on the polished wood floor. “It’s funny you should—”
The kiss came as such a surprise that I scrambled backward across the divan and almost tumbled over its rounded arm. Whiskey sloshed over the rim of my glass, splashing silently onto the Chinese rug. What remained I belted back in one go before setting the glass on the floor and wiping my shaking fingers on my trousers.
It wasn’t that I was averse to the idea of kissing him, but I really hadn’t expected it. In fact, if I’d seen him start toward me in the first place—he was remarkably quick for a man in his mid-forties—I’d have assumed he was going for my throat.
Goddard chuckled under his breath. “Sorry. Did I startle you?”
“You might say that.”
I was also taken aback by the presumption. I had always liked it when he took control, and the hard, whiskey-flavored slickness of his mouth had left me aroused. All the same, I was no longer his plaything. Part of me felt as if he should have at least asked permission.
I forgot my objections when he leaned in a second time, slowly, and cupped my face in his smooth, muscular hands. Now that I was expecting it, the kiss felt like coming home after a long, unpleasant journey. For just a moment, all of my troubles dissolved, and nothing existed except his fingers in my hair, the traces of his jasmine and bergamot cologne, and the smooth, familiar contours of his mouth.
And then as suddenly as he had moved in, Goddard pulled back, leaving me confused, disappointed, and blinking in the gaslight and shadow.
“Why did you come, Ira?”
“To ask you for money,” I said.
I know. I know. But every drop of blood in my head had surged to my cock, and I found myself incapable of the higher functioning required for either diplomacy or deceit.
Perhaps that had been the idea.
Jess Faraday has written a colorful tale of London at the turn of the century. Turnbull House tells of a time when children, dirty and uncared for, would hold out their grubby hands begging for a shilling or run into you on the streets, taking anything that might mean they get to eat for that day. These children were called urchins when people in better circumstances spoke in stiff, proper terms, having a spot of tea while a little boy or girl sold themselves nearby for a crust of bread. So much has been written of the lovely dresses and proper society, it is an amazing but eye-opening experience to see through the writings of Faraday, the seamier side of London at this time in our history. Ira Adler, once a child of the streets, was taken in by Cain Goddard, a gentleman of wealth and high in community standing. Although they were lovers, Goddard offered something very rare at the time. He insisted Ira become educated and learn a trade with which he could, one day, support himself in a proper way. As a result of Goddards assistance, Ira became a secretary, keeping books and writings for wealthier members of the community. Having met Dr. Tim Lazarus and then becoming friends while they were both down and out, the two decided to open a house for young people who wished to stop selling their bodies and come in off the streets. Now grown and self-sufficient Ira wished to share the opportunity he had been given.
At first, getting the house up and running was almost easy. There were plenty of people from the more delicate side of society who felt good about themselves for helping children get out of prostitution. However, as is still true to this day, donated funds are dependent on the hot-topic issue of the day. When funds dry up, Turnbull House is set to be sold by the landlord because he is unsure Adler and Dr. Lazarus will be able to continue meeting the rent. Ira, in a desperate move to save the house and keep the children safely off the streets, may be selling himself to the devil when he strikes a bargain with Goddard to purchase the house. Turnbull House turned out to be an excellent read as we share the trials and tribulations of the two men and their attempt to make a difference. ~ Review by JoEllen
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jess Faraday is the author of the Ira Adler mysteries and the standalone steampunk thriller The Left Hand of Justice. She also moonlights as the mystery editor for Elm Books.
Buy link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602829879.html
Jess will be awarding a two-book set (paperback) of Turnbull House and its predecessor, The Affair of the Porcelain Dog to a randomly drawn commenter between this tour and the NBtM Book Tour, here.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!
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