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Author Josh Lanyon's writing sparkles as she takes readers for a spin in the Thirties-style crime fiction. But don't expect Rafferty and Brett to be Nick and Nora -- or even Nick and Nick. Rafferty and Brett are wholly unique characters, and they're heroes I fell hard and fast for.

Lily for Romance Junkies Reviews
Wealthy playboy Brett Sheridan thinks he knows the score when he hires tough guy private eye Neil Patrick Rafferty to find a priceless stolen folio of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Brett’s convinced his partner-in-crime sister is behind the theft — a theft that’s liable to bring more scandal to their eccentric family, and cost Brett his marriage to society heiress Juliet Lennox. What Brett doesn’t count on is the instant and powerful attraction that flares between him and Rafferty.
Once before, Brett took a chance on loving a man, only to find himself betrayed and broken. This time around there’s too much at risk.
But as the Bard himself would say, “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”

(Included in the historical print collection What’s Left of Kisses?)

 

“Anything?” came a hoarse whisper.

“Nah. You?”

“Nah.”

Brett peered out again. He could just discern their features in the reflected light. What he saw was not encouraging. As a matter of fact, they looked rather like a pair of Etruscan demons.

He sank silently back into the cheap suits and did some more reconnoitering. He had already noticed that the two intruders didn’t seem concerned with hiding the evidence of their search. As they pawed through Sader’s drawers, they dumped the contents on the floor.

“This bird ain’t the sentimental type.”

“He ain’t in a sentimental business.”

They moved to the bed. They yanked the bedding and then the mattress off the iron frame. One of the shadows bent down, and Brett heard the sound of cloth ripping.

By now he was quite sober. Sober enough to realize he had been anything but when he had determined to search Sader’s room.

He ran through possible alternatives, but none of them was very attractive. He could try to grab the gun from the dresser, but even if he could get to the dresser before they grabbed him, he wasn’t sure the gun was loaded. He was familiar with hunting rifles, but gats were an entirely different thing.

He could try to make it to the window, but that left the problem of the fifteen-foot drop, and he preferred not to break his neck tonight if it was at all possible.

He could stay right where he was, but it had already become evident to him that the intruders were going to search every square inch of Sader’s quarters. They could hardly miss a giant wardrobe sitting in the middle of the room. Nor could they miss him sitting in the middle of the wardrobe like Miss Muffet on her tuffet.

As it wasn’t possible that they would overlook him, he needed to think how to handle their discovery. The only possible advantage he had was surprise.

It wasn’t much, but it was all he had.

He decided to play that card while they were engrossed in their stealthy disembowelment of the mattress.

Deciding and doing it were two separate things. Brett ordered himself to act. Yet, the order given, he continued to watch and wait, hoping against hope that some other alternative might arise.

It wasn’t until one of the men stepped toward the wardrobe that Brett accepted that time was up. He threw open the cupboard with all his force, knocking the intruder back. An oath escaped the man.

Brett leaped out. He ran for the door.

And he nearly made it. He did certainly catch them off guard, but he was unfamiliar with the room, and his foot caught in the spilled blankets. He careered into the door and scrabbled blindly for the handle.

They had locked it behind them, and by the time he had turned the latch, they were on him. The three of them crashed into the wall, knocking over the small table beside the bed. Brett threw a punch at a looming shadow and had the satisfaction of feeling it connect, the blow shivering up his arm.

The satisfaction was short-lived as the next instant he was doubling over himself from a blow landed beneath his ribs. His breath oofed.

He tried to turn his pained momentum into a charge, head-butting his nearer assailant in the guts. The man staggered back, swearing, and pounded Brett’s back. It was like having a sledgehammer fall on him, and he barely managed to keep on his feet. He began to swing in earnest.

Brett had boxed in college. He was quite a good boxer, as a matter of fact, but this was no fight like anything he’d known. This was a brawl, brutal and ugly. He was thrown into the chest of drawers, which smashed back into the wall. He went down on all fours, was kicked in the ribs, dragged to his feet again, and hurled into the wall. He managed to land a couple more punches, but against the two of them, it was like a gnat biting an elephant. His arms began to feel weighted, as though he were hitting through water.

A huge hand locked in his hair, and the pain was bright and infuriating. “All right, pally. Now we’re going to have a little talk,” snarled a voice against his ear.

The door flew open, the lights flared on, and Mrs. Dumbrille shrilled, “What’s going on here?”
For a one-handed woman she had one hell of a grip. She hauled off the thug trying to push Brett through the wall and threw him across the bed. When the other came barreling toward her, she tossed him off with such force he nearly went through the window.

She was a ventriloquist too because she did it all while screeching from across the room.
A hand locked on his biceps, and Brett was hauled to his feet. His legs nearly gave way, but he managed to stay upright and focus on his grim-faced rescuer.

“Time to go,” Rafferty said.