Sparks & Drops
Title : Sparks & Drops
Author : Susan Laine
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Mystery / Suspense
Length : 170 pages (e-book)
Published : November 20, 2013
Rating : ★★★
The Wheel Mysteries: Book One
Magic is in the air when Gus Goodwin, a pagan shopkeeper and owner of the Four Corners’ occult shop, meets a Niall Valentine, a mysterious PI investigating the disappearance of a local witch named Joy. What starts out as harmless flirting and information gathering soon turns into a partnership, with both men determined to solve the case.
Then bodies begin to pile up. Someone is using fire and water to kill witches associated with Joy, and it is up to Niall and Gus to find out what’s going on. But when their friendship blossoms into something else, the unknown dangers looming ahead become even more frightening. If they can’t solve the murders soon, they’re going to get themselves killed.
Gus Goodwin sees an attractive man in his occult shop, the Four Corners, and begins to answer his questions. As it turns out, the man, Niall Valentine, is a detective looking into the disappearance of a woman who has ties to the occult community. Niall and Gus discuss the Wicca over lunch and agree to look at the young woman’s apartment later in the day for any possible clues. Gus is able to learn a lot about her particular faith and how she chooses to worship, but the biggest clue they find is a dead body of another young woman in the filled bathtub. Niall is immediately regretful he involved Gus in the investigation in any way. He is beginning to have some feelings for Gus. Exposing the guy to dead bodies simply isn’t the way to tell a guy you may have a crush. Gus becomes determined to help Niall solve the crime, and forces his way into the investigation. They interview a teacher of Gus’, Juliette. She does give them a lead, but Niall has no desire to share with her the information about the drowning victim as anyone in the Wiccan community could be a suspect. The next interviewee is a young man named Will. He does know both the murder victim and the missing young woman, but the interview is cut short by the arrival of Will’s boyfriend, Byron Domville. Byron sends Gus and Niall out to speak to his twin brother, Shelley.
It becomes quickly obvious Shelley Domville is a sleazy guy who uses sex magic as a means to have a bunch of sex with a bunch of people. Niall becomes rather jealous when it appears Gus is a bit taken in by Shelley’s charm. That all changes when Gus challenges a simple statement made by Shelley. Gus isn’t quite as easily swayed as Niall thought. Things change again when Shelley implicates Juliette. During lunch, as Gus and Niall discuss any possible involvement Juliette may have with the crimes, Gus overhears a bit of conversation Niall has with his father. Gus thought they were moving in a much more romantic direction than Gus led his father to believe. When Niall is driving Gus back to his shop, they notice fire engines and Gus’ store fully engulfed in flames. The worst thing they find is a burned body inside the store. After going to Niall’s place and talking with Juliette they learn the body was most likely that of Will. Niall leaves to discuss the case with a friend on the local police force. Gus believes he solves the crime and runs off on his own to prove it! Really, that never ends well.
This was obviously a series opener that laid the ground work of the relationship between Gus and Niall. As such, there wasn’t much of anything that was actually going on between them other than some preliminary feelers. When they do finally get their respective acts together they’re still somewhat stymied and they’ll certainly need a few more books for their relationship to develop beyond a few kisses and gropes. I did like their style together while investigating despite finding Gus’ feisty and flighty personality a little annoying. For the most part Niall seemed to be tolerant of Gus and found him endearing. I found him too high maintenance to be really enjoyable.
The mystery and discussion of various aspects of Wicca were interesting. The mystery wasn’t exactly what I’d call toothsome, but it wasn’t at all simple. I know next to nothing about Wicca beyond knowing it’s a religion. I’m not at all qualified to say if the book described it well, but it was believable. If it were all made up I would call it good world building. Over all I don’t have a very strong opinion of this book either way. Whereas it’s good I don’t feel negatively toward it, I would say it’s not so good it didn’t really cause me to feel strongly at all.
Rated 3 stars by Faye