A cozy mystery with a tongue-tied nerd of a history professor tempted by a gorgeous graduate student and millions of dollars if he can solve one of history's greatest mysteries -- who was Shakespeare really?
The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean
by Tara Lain
Dr. Llewellyn Lewis leads a double life, as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and the more flamboyant Ramon Rondell, infamous writer of sensational historical theories. It's Ramon who first sets eyes on a gorgeous young man dancing in a club, but Llewellyn who meets teaching assistant Blaise Arthur formally at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford-who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim, even though many have tried and failed. And she's willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds.
It also means a chance for Llewellyn to get to know Blaise much better.
Not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case-or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work... and one of them is willing to kill to do it.
When Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise...
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Well, damn. He slowly released a breath and took another as Blaise Arthur appeared in the kitchen doorway.
Blaise looked from Llewellyn’s face to his hand, just inches from grasping the handle of a butcher knife. “Whoa. Hang on, Jim Bowie. Sorry to scare you. Your door was standing open, and I was a little worried that you’d decided to run for Alaska or hang yourself by one of Van Pelt’s neckties.”
A laugh bubbled up from Llewellyn’s belly. That description so perfectly described his options, he just kept chuckling until all three cats looked at him like he was nuts. Marie relaxed her puffed-up fur seemingly one hair at a time, flicked her tail, and returned to her chicken dinner.
Finally he managed to stop laughing. “Uh, how d-did you know w-where I live?”
Blaise cocked his grin to the side. “I followed you, and I must say, I had to move pretty fast to do it.”
What the hell? “W-why?”
“I told you. Suicide prevention.”
Was he disappointed in that answer? He spread his arms. “A-as you see.”
“I’m a cr-crazy cat lady.”
Blaise leaned against the door, arms crossed, one nicely muscled leg cocked over the other, and a sexy-as-hell grin on his face. “Neither crazy nor a lady so far as I can see.”
“S-so what do you want?”
“There’s a challenging question. Just accept my mother-of-compassion routine at face value and offer me a drink.”
He still frowned. “B-beer? Wine?”
“Beer would be great.”
Llewellyn loved craft beers and took two bottles of Red Headed Stranger from his cooler.
He opened and poured them into pilsner glasses and handed one to Blaise, who stared at the bottle. “Whoa, exotic.” He sipped. “Delicious.”
“I’ll remember it.”
Llewellyn gestured to the hall and led Blaise back to the big living room with its high ceilings, elaborate crown moldings, and polished oak floors. He sat in an easy chair and indicated that Blaise should sit on the comfortable couch.
Blaise sipped and gazed around. “This is quite a house. How old is it?”
“N-nineteen twenties or thirties.” Why was he chitchatting? What’s he doing here?
“Is it a family home?”
“Are you gay?”
“What?” Llewellyn frowned. “Uh, y-yes. E-everyone knows th-that.”
“Yes, I read it, but I wanted to ask.” He grinned.
The cats padded in, Marie making a straight shot to Llewellyn’s lap, where she turned and stared at Blaise while washing her face and paws.
“She’s the formidable one.”
“What’s her name?”
He laughed. “Perfect. Marie, I’ll make it my personal objective to woo you to my side.”
That implied some long-term association.
Blaise took another big mouthful. “It looks like you have a nice life.” He set the still partly full glass on the coffee table and stood. “I’m glad. Thanks so much for the beer.” He walked toward the door. What the hell?
Llewellyn stood, getting a squawk from Marie. “W-why did you ask if I-I’m gay?”
Blaise glanced back over his shoulder. “Because I am.”
“I-I know.” Jesus, why did I say that?
“Am I that obvious?” But he smiled.
Llewellyn shrugged. “No. So?”
Blaise laughed. “See you at work.”
I’m not normally one to read cozy mystery books, but I thought I’d check this one out since it also included romance and I’ve enjoyed many of this author’s books previously. A bit of corniness, a convoluted mystery, and it seems that everyone—yes, pretty much everyone—has a secret.
Llewellyn is so sweet and adorable, nerdy but incredibly intelligent, and yes he’s got a secret too with his “other life” as Ramon Rondell. As the beyond introverted Dr. Lewis, he wants nothing to do with most other people and would prefer to be left to his academic research. As Ramon, his published works are much more sensational—as is the personality of Ramon himself…the complete opposite of Llewellyn’s everyday persona.
Blaise is one of those guys who can charm just about anyone, and his behavior is a bit suspect from the start. But he does truly like Llewellyn, and quickly understands the man’s shy ways. His secret is a doozy, but there’s plenty of that going around in this story.
The mystery does keep things quite interesting, and I kept changing my mind as to who the “bad guy” was supposed to be. Even at the end with the reveal I was still surprised. There is romance between Blaise and Llewellyn, but the mystery does take center stage for the majority of the book.
Llewellyn and Blaise make for an unlikely couple, but one I enjoyed and hoped once secrets started getting revealed that they’d be able to make it through in the end. This story was between a 3.5 and 4-star read for me, and I’m interested to see what other stories will come out of this series. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
About the Author
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Erotic Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and more. Readers often call her books “sweet,” even with all that hawt sex, because Tara believes in love and her books deliver on happily-ever-after. In addition to writing dozens and dozens of romance novels, Tara also owns an advertising and public relations firm. Her love of creating book titles comes from years of manifesting ad headlines for everything from analytical instruments to semiconductors. She does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. Together with her soulmate husband and her soulmate Dog, she recently realized a vision to live where there were a lot more trees and a lot fewer cars by moving to Ashland, Oregon. She hasn’t stopped smiling since.