Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective Calvin Winter is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.
Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that brings him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.
It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line – it’s his very life.
Series: Snow & Winter
Publisher: DSP Publications
Author: C.S. Poe
Narrator: Derrick McClain
Length: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Release: July 31, 2017
Post: Hey there, everyone! I’m C.S. Poe, author of the mystery-romance series, Snow & Winter. Today is the third stop of the blog tour for The Mystery of the Curiosities on audio, narrated by the wonderfully talented Derrick McClain. If you’ve missed the previous posts— this is a short story about Sebastian and Calvin taking a vacation to Colorado, inspired by my Highway to Heck road trip and attendance at GRL. Be sure to check the schedule below and catch up on Part 1 and 2!
The complete story is at the following blogs:
October 23 – The Novel Approach
October 24 – Boy Meets Boy
October 26 – Two Chicks Obsessed
October 27 – Love Bytes
“Wow!” I exclaimed.
Our room was beautiful— shimmery wallpaper, non-matching pieces of antique furniture, and a bed with a magnificent mahogany headboard. I walked to the left side and opened one of the windows overlooking the street in time for the nearby train to blow its whistle loudly. I fished my phone from my back pocket and snapped a mediocre picture of the town view.
“It’s like stepping back in time,” I said, looking over my shoulder.
“With the exception of modern plumbing,” Calvin answered. He pushed the suitcase up against the far wall.
I left the open window and breeze fluttering the curtains. At the bedside table was what appeared to be a small journal. I set my phone down and retrieved the book. “Someone leave this?” I opened to a page at random and held it close. But with sunglasses on and sans magnifying glass? No dice on the reading.
I walked across the room and held it out to Calvin.
He took it, without question as to what I needed help with, and sifted through a few pages. “A diary? Oh— this is the ghost diary.”
“Of course,” I answered dryly, as if that response answered all my questions.
“I was told they keep one in all the rooms,” Calvin continued. He closed the book. “Guests can include their own observations.”
I raised my eyebrows and began patting my pockets. “Where’d I put my magnifying glass?”
“Not now,” he said with a touch of amusement. “Let’s get a drink downstairs. The saloon has bartenders in costume.”
“Nothing against the ladies who manage to somehow both breathe and serve drinks while wearing corsets, but I hope there’s a cowboy or two for me to stare at.”
I grinned widely at Calvin. “Giddy-up.”
He put an arm around my shoulders and walked to the door. “Don’t make me punish you later.”
“With a warning like that, why would I stop now?” I opened the door and stepped into the hall first. I slipped from Calvin’s arm and walked backward. “If I flirt with an outlaw, will you use your handcuffs on me?”
“Seb,” he said with a tone that sort of indicated he was liking the fact I was digging a grave for myself.
“Will you pull out your gun so I can determine whose is bigger?” I continued.
Calvin let the door fall shut behind him as he followed me into the hall. “One more,” he warned.
“How’s that song go— save a horse, ride a cowboy?”
Calvin lunged forward, grabbed my wrist, and pulled me tight against him.
I laughed and twisted in his hold. “Did I do bad, sheriff?”
“Bringing you here was a huge mistake.”
“Nah, you like it.”
Calvin smiled and kissed my mouth. “Let’s get you drunk on trade whiskey.”
“Sounds fun.” We started down the stairs before I patted my pocket. “Shit. I forgot my phone.”
Calvin handed me the room card.
“Hold onto those drunk thoughts.” I jogged back up the stairs and to our room, letting myself inside. I went to the bedside table where I’d set my— where was the phone?
I put my hand on the tabletop. I was certain I’d set it here when I picked up the ghost diary….
I turned my head and saw it laying at the foot of the bed.
I grabbed it and left the room once more.
I was drunk.
More drunk than I usually got.
I blamed the altitude.
Calvin was paying our bar bill downstairs and I had gone back into the hotel with the intention of taking a piss. But I stopped on the stairs leading to the third floor when I heard a door close above me. Up and to the right.
Pretty sure that had to be our room. Shitfaced or not— I’ve got excellent hearing. Comes with the poor eyesight.
I waited halfway up the stairs to see who was leaving.
But it was silent.
Maybe it had been housekeeping?
Although that didn’t make sense. It was nearly ten at night.
I gripped the banister, more to steady my inebriated steps than anything, and crept up the last few stairs. I peered around the corner.
Nothing but an empty hallway.
I must have been mistaken.
I pulled the room key from my pocket as I reached the door and let myself in. I stood in the doorway, leaned to the left, and turned the lamp on. The room had a comfortable glow about it, just enough to illuminate our suitcase against the wall— unzipped with clothes hanging out.
“Well shit,” I stated.
End of Part 3
First of all, the covers to these books are just awesome! They tell a little bit about the story, and Seb in particular, simply by the monochromatic tones. Better choices could not have been made for the first two books in this series.
Now, on to the rest. I rarely read mystery novels…well, pretty much…yeah, okay, never. I read romances. I love romances. I’ve loved them all my life. But when I saw that Derrick McClain narrated both of these, I thought it might be a good choice as a starting point. Oh my gosh, I am so happy that I took the plunge!
The creation of a main character that is well rounded, interesting but also with a healthy backstory doesn’t always happen in books. Ms. Poe did a fantastic job of creating a main character with, to say the least, some quirky personality traits, as well as a disability that you just don’t read about in any romance novel. Then she weaves all of these quirks throughout both books, and even uses them to help Seb solve his mysteries. His disability is not a deterrent to him, but can be an assistive device as he follows the clues and “sleuths” his way into Calvin’s life. These quirks, characteristics, in addition to his disability, are not left by the wayside and forgotten, but become such an integral part of Seb’s story, that the reader really wants to sit down with Seb and ask him a million questions, just so you can hear what he has to say. (Speaking of which, that gives me a very good idea!) 😉
What I enjoyed most, though, was this was a mystery with more than a touch of romance. It allowed Seb and Calvin, also known as Snow and Winter (which just makes me giggle), to solve the over arcing mystery, while still falling in love. Even as you see the hard, former military, homicide detective falling for snarky, sarcastic and sweet Seb, they work (somewhat) in tandem to find out who has committed the crimes, and take them down. It isn’t insta-love (although insta-lust on Seb’s side is quite obvious), but one that grows as Seb continues to get himself into situations he should not be in, but can’t help himself, while Calvin finds himself becoming more and more concerned with Seb’s safety. One of the most creative moments that I have seen, amongst any book I’ve read, is the one where Calvin gives away to Seb not only that he might not be as straight as Seb thinks he is, but also that he has feelings for him. It is a short, sweet and quiet moment, but it was a scene that will stick with me as a reader, and makes me want to re-read/re-listen to these books again, just to capture all the subtle nuances I loved, and those I might have missed.
I don’t listen to a ton of audio books, but I have heard Derrick’s narration on a few. With an audiobook, narration must ADD to the book for me to want to listen to it, especially when it is a series. A bad narration can pull you out of the story, or maybe even make you DNF the book. Knowing Derrick was narrating I wasn’t worried about either of those happening, before I started to listen. However, he made the story so much better for me with his vocal changes between characters, the emotions he added into each scene, and the emphasis he was able to add to Seb’s snarky humor. I absolutely loved his narration!
I rarely give 5 stars as a reviewer, primarily because one of the biggest qualifiers for me for a 5 star is that it must be something I want to re-read. In this case, not only do I want to re-read, but I want to re-listen, and I want to do it very soon. And now I have to decide do I want to read book 3 (I was told there will be 4 in the series!) or do I want to wait to hear Derrick do the narration. Another mystery to behold. J
Books 1 and 2: Story: 5 pieces of eye candy
Books 1 and 2: Narration: 5 pieces of eye candy
Author Bio: C.S. Poe is an author of gay mystery, romance, and paranormal books.
She is a reluctant mover and has called many places home in her lifetime. C.S. has lived in New York City, Key West, and Ibaraki, Japan, to name a few. She misses the cleanliness, convenience, and limited edition gachapon of Japan, but she was never very good at riding bikes to get around.
She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful, and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued three cats, including one found in a drain pipe in Japan who flew back to the States with her. Zak, Milo, and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to sidetrack her from work.
C.S. is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organization.
Narrator Bio: Ever since my voice dropped, people have been telling me I “should go into radio”…
What people don’t realize is that you don’t go into radio just because people like the sound of your voice. You go into radio because you have a passion for what’s on the radio – for music, or for news, or sports. While I can appreciate these things, I don’t have a passion for them.
Now, books on the other hand…books I can get behind.
After eight years of professional and competitive public speaking and (live) oral interpretation of literature, Derrick has turned his powerful voice to the world of audiobooks.
While he enjoys reading, listening to, and narrating a wide variety of genres, he has a particular affinity and passion for romance novels of all types.
Derrick records in a professional quality studio at his home in Tallahassee, FL, where he enjoys the quiet North Florida lifestyle along with his fiance and insanely hyper dog. He has previously lived in rural Pennsylvania as well as Orange County California, and has extensively traveled the United States, becoming familiar with a wide range of American accents and sub-cultures.