Life would be simpler if X marked the spot.
When Landry Carran buys an antique mirror from a pop-up flea market, he doesn’t expect it to set him on a treasure hunt originating in the Second World War. He can’t resist tracking down the clues even knowing that every step brings him closer to danger.
Landry’s partner and Dom, Detective Gage Roskam, has his own problems handling a money laundering case that twists and turns as much as Landry’s treasure trail.
As a decades-old mystery collides with modern-day crime, Landry and Roskam must juggle work, friendships and their relationship to solve both puzzles. It’ll be a miracle if nothing gets broken along the way.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of physical assault, gunshots and expressions of homophobia. There are references to non-nurturing parenting, addiction and attempted abduction.
General Release Date: 24th August 2021
Book 2 in the Treasure Trove Antiques series
General Release Date: 24th August 2021
“Moving apartments involves way too much physical exertion.” Landry Carran launched two garbage bags full of bed linen into the spare bedroom before continuing to the kitchen to survey the chaos. “I’m exhausted and I have bruises in unmentionable places. Why aren’t cardboard boxes spherical? Corners are evil.”
“You’re moving one floor down in the same building.” Gage Roskam, Landry’s boyfriend, poked his head around the door. “And you have half of Seattle PD’s finest helping out, so quit whining or I’ll spank you in full view of all of them.”
“That’d scare the uniform pants off ’em. Something I wouldn’t mind seeing one little bit.” Landry contemplated the idea of a bunch of semi-naked cops with delight.
“Not so much. I’ve heard at least three different people say you need a spanking today. None of them seemed bothered about when or where it happened.”
“You’re a brat.”
“I just want boxes marked ‘kitchen’ to go in the kitchen. Do they not teach reading at the police academy?”
“Not so’s you’d notice.”
“I never knew I had so much stuff,” Landry muttered. “It’s like living in one of those anxiety dreams where you know you have to finish something but it’s never-ending.” He shuddered.
“Are you one of those hoarder types? I think full disclosure should have occurred before I agreed to move in with you, if that’s the case.” Gage shoved another box of kitchenware onto the already crowded counter.
“You’ve been living with me for almost six months. You invaded my closet, kept your toothbrush in my bathroom and installed a gun safe in the bedroom. You discovered my rubber ducky fetish, stole an entire box of peanut butter cups and left your huge-ass boots where I’d trip over them. Just because you kept paying rent on your place does not mean we weren’t living together.”
Gage shrugged. “Your rubber fetish is a lot broader than ducks.” His blue eyes twinkled.
“That’s where you’re going with this?” Landry pouted. “Stop grinning.”
“Come here.” Gage crooked his finger.
“Nope.” Landry folded his arms. “Not gonna.”
Gage blinked. “Right now, Landry.”
“Hmm, let me think. There’s that new latex hood with the built-in penis gag—that has possibilities. Chastity for the next week—always fun—or removal of coffee privileges.”
Landry decided the three steps into Gage’s arms were his best option. He rested his cheek on Gage’s chest. “So mean.”
“And you love it.”
“Not admitting to anything that might prejudice my defense. Ooh, you’re so warm and you smell good.”
“How can that be when I’ve been carting boxes and furniture all day?”
“Don’t know, don’t care, but it’s true and that T-shirt shows off your muscles so well. Very distracting. You reduce my productivity.” Landry stroked a firm bicep.
“Oh no. You are not prepping the ground for blaming me when you can’t find your favorite mug this evening, or if some random object goes missing. Your productivity would increase if you spent less time drinking coffee and more time hauling shit. Less gossiping with Sancha needs to go on that list, too.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Landry made his eyes big and wide and projected innocent vibes.
“My box of toys is in our bedroom. I have several paddles you haven’t met yet. Tonight, you’ll pick one then count while I apply it to your ass.” Landry gulped and his cock jerked. Gage snuck his hand down the front of Landry’s pants to give his shaft a squeeze. “Someone wants that spanking real bad.”
“This says different.” Gage played a little more. “You’re leaking.”
“Unhand me, you brute.”
“Have you been watching old British films again?”
“Maybe.” Landry shoved his groin into Gage’s palm.
“Madre de dios, put that boy down!” Sancha Hernandez, Gage’s partner, shouted from the hallway. “Or at least wait until I have a better view. There’s unpacking to do, and I was promised beer and pizza for helping out. I’ve seen no evidence of either and as I am a detective, I’d know.”
Landry whimpered as Gage gave him a final squeeze before removing his hand from Landry’s pants. “Later, brat.” Gage grabbed his cell from the counter. “I’ll order the pies before we have a mutiny on our hands. You sort the drinks. I’m not unpacking anything else tonight. The bed’s made. I have a toothbrush. I’m set.”
“I can’t believe you’re leaving me all alone for three whole days,” Sancha moaned, joining them. “Who’s gonna buy my coffee and fill in my paperwork?” Landry sniggered. “I can’t believe the captain signed off on your vacation time. Do you have blackmail material on him I don’t know about?”
“Pretty sure you’ll survive by enlisting some other naïve sucker,” Gage muttered before putting in his pizza order.
“Junior detectives are meant to make themselves useful. I’m giving them valuable life experiences and don’t forget my garlic prawns,” Sancha prompted him.
“And that right there is why I’m glad I don’t have to share a car with you tomorrow,” Gage said. “There aren’t enough air fresheners in the world.”
Sancha shrugged. “Lightweight. How are you doing, Landry, sweetie? I hope you haven’t been carrying anything too heavy. Moving is hard work, and you need to stay hydrated. Why don’t you grab a soda then come sit with me?”
“That sounds so cool. I am a little achy.” Landry directed his pout at Sancha.
“I’ll be on the couch.” She smiled at Landry, scowled at Gage then left the kitchen.
“Why doesn’t she care if I’ve been overdoing it?” Gage complained. “I’m the one she spends every day with.”
“Duh. Because you have muscles on your muscles whereas I’m a delicate flower.”
“Who shifts furniture around all day in an antique store.”
“Details. This much cuteness needs to be protected.” Landry swept a hand down his body.
“Yes, I’m still here. Sorry. Someone delusional was interrupting me.” Gage finished ordering food while Landry got himself a soda. He turned from the fridge to find Gage looming over him. “You give me a crick in the neck when you do that.” Landry tilted his head back. “I need a stool or a box or something.”
“I think my partner loves you more than me.” Gage twisted his fingers through Landry’s hair.
“I’m a lovable person. Of course I’m Sancha’s favorite. She loves me best because I am way cuter and far more adorable than you. You have this whole broody, menacing thing going on.” Landry grinned. “Which is a huge turn on for me, gotta say.”
“You do, huh?”
“I should go talk to Sancha…”
“You should stay right here while I remind you who you belong to.”
Landry drew breath to speak but his words were cut off as Gage captured his lips in a demanding kiss. Every submissive gene in Landry’s body responded to Gage’s dominance. He moaned into the kiss, knees wobbling. Every tug Gage gave his hair sent a miniature bolt of lightning to Landry’s cock. When they finally parted, he took a step back, dazed.
“Now you may go and talk to Sancha.”
“Oh I may, may I?” Landry hesitated, wondering if he might get kissed into silence if he talked back. “You don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t talk to.” Gage gave him one of his patented ‘don’t mess with me’ looks. “Okay, sometimes you do. Not all the time, ‘cause I’m a grown-up and I make decisions for myself. Like when we have cookies, and I have to choose between chocolate chip and ginger. I can do that.”
“No you can’t. You always take both.”
“Bad example.” Landry scuffed the toe of his sneaker on the floor.
“I know you’re all grown up, sweetheart, and you’re quite capable of making decisions. Mr. Lao wouldn’t trust you with Treasure Trove if you weren’t. But you’re mine and that gives me a say in your life. Sometimes you need a nudge in the right direction is all.”
“And that’s your job?”
“Along with watching out for you, tying you up, fucking you into the mattress, protecting you from predatory British art thieves…”
“You had to go there.”
Gage smirked. “Go keep Sancha company. I’ll go wait for the pizza guy and let the others know food is on the way. I think pretty much everything that needs to be, has been moved.”
“Bring them all in here, yeah? There’s a cooler full of beer behind the couch—unless Sancha has already found it, in which case it may be half-full by now.” Landry ambled through to the sitting room, which had a similar layout to the one in his old apartment except for an extra nook for a dining table. He threw himself onto the couch where Sancha was glugging down a bottle of Dubbel Entendre, which Landry had sourced from Sound Brewery in Poulsbo.
“You found the cooler then.” Landry leaned into Sancha’s side.
“I can scent beer from a mile away, you poor innocent lamb. Of course I found it and damn, this beer is good. Just what I needed. Love the name of this stuff too.”
“I couldn’t resist it, it’s such a cool name.” He cracked open his soda. “Thanks for helping out today, I really appreciate it. I know you don’t get much free time, and you must have had better things to do than helping me and Gage move.”
“How many times have you guys helped us out? Besides, it was this or taking the kids to soccer practice. My loving husband saw fit to remind me that I tend to get over-excited around the coach who I happen to think would have a much more lucrative career as an underwear model. Honestly, he’s wasted on a bunch of kids.”
“Leering in front of children is not a good plan.” Landry slurped his drink.
“Sad but true. However, we’re not here to talk about my perversions.”
“We’re not here to talk about mine, either,” Landry cautioned. “Because that would take way too long.”
Sancha gave an unladylike snort. “Ain’t that the truth? Also, Gage might object. So, tell me what Mr. Lao is up to and why you get to move into his apartment. Gage is hopeless at filling me in. I need to get the details from you. Mr. Lao isn’t ill or anything, is he? I kinda like the old guy.”
“He’s fine. More than fine. He’s moving in with his girlfriend.”
“He’s… Run that by me again.”
“He has a girlfriend called Maisie. He met her at his seniors bowling club—that’s bowling on grass by the way, not bowling on an alley, and now they’re moving in together in some gated community in the ’burbs, complete with health club, tennis courts and on-site restaurant. He’s stepping back from the store, to spend more time with her—semi-retirement, I suppose you could call it. I get to be the store manager and one of the perks is to move into Mr. Lao’s old apartment, which as you can see has more square footage than mine. The kitchen is bigger and there’s a spare bedroom, which is great because I can hide all Gage’s junk in there.”
“Congratulations! Manager, huh? Does that mean you get a humongous raise?”
“I wish. I agreed to a percentage of the profits on everything I sell on top of my puny salary, plus this place which, despite the lingering scent of incense, is quite a perk. Mr. Lao will still be doing most of the buying while I get to park my butt in the store. He loves traveling around finding great deals and bartering with his pals in the trade. Oh, I also get to look for an assistant. A new me.”
“And Gage is moving in with you. That’s so sweet.”
“I dare you to use the word sweet in front of him. It’s practical. He saves a bundle on rent, and I get to jump his bones any time I want. We were as good as living together already, anyway.”
“More like he gets to keep a closer eye on you.”
“Exactly,” Gage said, joining them. “Because someone has a habit of getting into strife when I’m not watching him.” He dropped a pile of pizza boxes on the coffee table and the room was soon swarming with all the people who’d been helping out with the move. The noise level and banter grew as the pizza mountain shrank and the beers from the cooler were drunk. Landry laughed at all the jokes Gage’s colleagues made about him, noticing that they were a lot more cautious about teasing Sancha. When he mentioned it, she laughed.
“They wouldn’t dare. The last time one of them tried to play a trick on me at the precinct, I accidentally stapled his hand.”
Landry looked to Gage for confirmation. He nodded. “She did. Not sure it was accidental, though.”
“No comment!” Sancha proclaimed.
“Your aim is spot on, and you know it!”
“And on that note, I think it’s time that me and this crowd of reprobates cleared out of here and left you two lovebirds alone.”
Wow, this one was so much fun! Action and adventure, just like the first book, but even better.
Landry and Gage are settling into their relationship, moving in together, and know each other so well now. Landry is a huge smart ass, which I love, and uses that to be “punished” at will. It was so much fun to read him become even more himself in a relationship, with a Dom. And clearly that Dom, Gage, adores the ground Landry walks on. It was a fantastic line to walk.
We definitely get to spend some time with more side characters this time, Petey (he finds the man for him, as well!), Sancha, even Mr. Lao a bit. These characters played into the mystery quite a bit, and allowed the reader to learn how much Landry cares about others, despite trying to play himself off sometimes as being self-centered.
There were a few phrases that were decidedly UK English, the author is herself from the UK, that hopefully were caught by a US editor, since it is based in the US, but with arcs, I always give a lot of leeway for this, as it’s possible another edit round may come before publishing the book.
All in all, what I would consider a crime caper, with lots of heat and romance in there. I’m really hoping we get to see more of this entire crew again!
4.5 pieces of eye candy
Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.
She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.
You can follow Lucinda on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.
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