The Backlot Gay Book Forum discussion

Heart to Hart (Gaslight Mysteries, #1)
This topic is about Heart to Hart
Book Series Discussions > Erin O'Quinn, "Heart to Hart"

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments Let's just say that, in addition to my four-star rating, I've bought the second and third books in this series, "The Gaslight Mysteries." Erin O'Quinn has captured my fancy.

Pretty much the way Simon Hart has captured Michael McCrae's fancy.

O'Quinn's imaginary Irish city in 1923 echoes Jordan Hawk's Widdershins in her series of American-based historical m/m mysteries. The 1920s setting, just after World War I, recalls Tamara Allen's jazz-age settings for her great books, including "Whistling in the Dark."

Simon Hart is grieving and angry, because after burying both his emotions and his physical urges for all of his twenty-five years, his closest friend, business partner--and potential lover--is brutally murdered. He happens upon Michael McCrae while leaving his friend's obituary notice at McCrae's paper.

McCrea is a bit of damaged goods himself, but doubts about his sexual interests have no part in this. Cocky, seductive, and very smart, Michael sets about taking care of Simon, whether or not Simon wants him to.

The pas-de-deux these two men perform is sexy, for sure--but sexual tension is a driving force in this narrative, and not just needless spice. Simon is all about control; Michael is all about taking life by the horns and seeing what happens. Simon's aloofness is all wrapped up in his past and his pain; but Michael's bravado hides a more complex character than anyone understands. Watching these two men come to understand each other is every bit as moving and entertaining as their sexual encounters are. Watching them work toward solutions to various crimes on Simon's to-do list--at first alone, and gradually together--makes for good reading.

I love a book that can be romantic without being soppy; that can have a period feeling without undue stiffness or exaggerated "olde tyme" inflections. 1923 is a long time ago, but it is in the modern world, and O'Quinn manages to create just the right balance to draw us into the story and make us care about these men.

message 2: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments I like your review, Ulysses, and the book has many four and five star reviews here and at But .... but ... but ... the excerpt at All Romance ebooks doesn't appeal at all!

"...Michael followed Simon through the sitting room to a door opposite his own bedchamber. He’d seen Simon’s athletic trousers lying on the bedroom carpet, but not the jock strap. He knew beneath the shimmering robe there lay the chance of a lifetime. An athlete’s groin, encased in a bit of cotton, the ass-end open to meet his maddened cock " and it goes on ...

What's a woman to do? Lol.

Does it get better? I'm also not sure I could handle Michael's broad Irish accent all the way through a 55,000 word novel.

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments I see your is somewhat, um, overwritten in places. I did feel at the beginning that it could have been pared down a bit, edited with a stronger hand. But, ultimately, the story won me over, and the writing settled down.

message 4: by Charles (new) - added it

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments Along with Harper Fox's new *um* paranormal (?) series, Tyack & Frayne (also novellas), this is the best damn series I've read in, like, forever. AND, like T&F, the count stands at three novels with, hopefully, many more to come. Outstanding...really!

message 5: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments Hmm, I'll put it in my "books to think about" file, and keep an eye out for any upcoming discounts at All Romance. Still not convinced. ;)

message 6: by Charles (new) - added it

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments Aussie 54: I see your point about a woman's POV re dudes in jockstraps, especially in place of everyday tighty whiteys; but there is a definite reason dance clubs put their go-go boys in thongs (which are jocks missing one of the straps.) :-)

Also, Michael has a secret re his workingman's Irish accent. Remember, he grew up in the U. S.

message 7: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments Chuck wrote: "Aussie 54: I see your point about a woman's POV re dudes in jockstraps, especially in place of everyday tighty whiteys; but there is a definite reason dance clubs put their go-go boys in thongs (wh..."

Chuck, it isn't the jockstrap that bothers me, it's the purple prose. That excerpt's so flowery!

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments Ah, Chuck (nice to see you!)...Harper Fox rules. As a writer, she is unbeaten. Her weakest books are better than most.

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments Ah, here's where being a curator is useful. Jock straps were a new thing in 1923--when the book is set. So it is a period detail, and its allure to a sexually repressed man like Simon Hart actually makes sense.

message 10: by Jax (new) - added it

Jax | 981 comments Well Uly & Chuck you've convinced me to give this try, though I agree with Aussie54 about that excerpt. I find that there aren't many (any?) adjectives that work well before 'cock'. They always make me either roll my eyes or laugh. Not the best reaction to sexy-times! But I've had this one on my Amazon wish list for a long time. I love historicals & mysteries so it seems made for me.

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments Hee hee...the author actually uses the word "phallus" rather more than I suspect they did in 1923. For all the goofball verbiage, the sex between the two MCs is very true.

message 12: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments Jax wrote: "Well Uly & Chuck you've convinced me to give this try, though I agree with Aussie54 about that excerpt. I find that there aren't many (any?) adjectives that work well before 'cock'. They always mak..."

Please report back when you've read it. I'm interested to see what you think.

message 13: by Jax (new) - added it

Jax | 981 comments Ok gentlemen, normally I wouldn’t jump in here to give a contrary opinion but I’m at the 20% mark – just at Aussie54’s excerpt – and I’m a little concerned that this may not be for me. Since she already had reservations about this book, I wanted to share my thoughts so far.

There seems to be a definite preoccupation with the sexual right from the get-go. I started to worry right from the author’s note to the reader: Heart to Hart recounts the sexual odyssey of two men. It is foremost, a fantasy – sexual and comedic adventures set in a nonexistent city in Ireland…. (emphasis mine)

And these are from the first chapter:

Michael’s cock set up a slow hammering beneath the stiff apron.

If the man hadn’t been so suck-my-dick handsome……

Here was man who badly needed a few things. One was a good friggin lay……….His cock shifted menacingly under his apron.

He knew he had to have this man, at his speed, and in his own way.

By now a small ache had begun in his balls.

He must be sure of the man he’d selected on a moment’s whim, a one-second leap o’ the cock.

Now he was consciously seeking a change in his life, drawn by his own unruly prick to the promise of a desirable man.

And this has continued to the point I’ve reached, more so from Michael’s perspective, but also a little when we’re in Simon’s head.

Now I prefer slow-burn romance to instant lust but even more than that, I find all these little sexual asides distracting from the story that’s trying to get underway.

I’ll read on in the hopes these guys calm down a little and get their heads out of their pants long enough to do something interesting.

message 14: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments Thanks for sharing, Jax.

I'm always eager to like stories recced here, but being such different human beings, we can't always like what others love.

Recently I downloaded two freebies that readers on Goodreads had given five stars by the bucket load, but I only managed to get half-way through both of them, and deleted them from my eREader.

C'est la vie.

message 15: by Jax (new) - added it

Jax | 981 comments No, I know it's definitely me being the oddball on this one. Lots of great reviews - a full 5-stars at Amazon! Sometimes things just don't hit you right. But maybe the progression of their relationship will help me overcome my initial impressions.

message 16: by Ulysses (last edited May 02, 2014 04:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments I do agree that the sexual side of this story seems obsessive, more on McCrea's side...but somehow I got over that

message 17: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments Ulysses wrote: ""

Ulysses, did you use invisible ink for your comment? :D

message 18: by Octobercountry (new)

Octobercountry | 1169 comments Mod
Hmmm, based on the excerpts listed above, I really don't know if I'd care all that much for the descriptive erotic passages used in this story! However, the series does sound rather interesting and I'm putting the books on my wish list.

Ulysses Dietz | 1608 comments Oops...some weird html punctuation messup...

message 20: by Jax (new) - added it

Jax | 981 comments I’m afraid I’ve lost interest in these lusty lads… just can’t relate to these raunchy Romeos….had to bail on these bawdy boys. Okay, I quit at 65% is what I’m saying. Just not my cup o’ tea.

The weird thing is, when I’m not ‘getting’ a popular book, I can usually find a few other contrarian reviews. But I couldn’t find a single negative review for this one. So clearly it’s just me.

Also strange is that, in addition to the mention in the author’s note at the beginning, Ms O’Quinn says in a comment at Jessewave that the book was “meant to be comedic” which I did not see at all. I must really be reading this wrong. Oh well.

message 21: by Charles (new) - added it

Charles (chuck-e) | 306 comments Jax and Aussie54 ( and beloved Octobercountry): I shot thru all three novels in The Gaslight Mysteries, and half the time I felt like I was reading Cameron Dane (now THERE'S 95% sex with 5% plot to hold the pages together!). However, even though the boys were thinking about sex 90 percent of the time, I found that, at approximately a third of the way through each novella, a really terrific story kicked in. The third novel has a particularly interesting story, mystery and twist.
While I can't disagree that thinking about boffing your beloved is atypical when a bad-guy is holding a switchblade to your throat, I enjoyed them enough to begin O'Quinn's Iron Warrior series about a Roman centurion in Britain who emigrates to Ireland with (among others) the eventually-to-be St. Patrick. Now, THAT'S a story..... and I love the setting and the historical notes. And, yes, there's a crapload of sex for the first third, then a really good story of Christians vs Druids kicks in. As I say (so often) opinions of stories and styles like these are what make for (metaphorical) horse races.

Uly, I loves ya, dude! Where would we be without the historical pespective on underclothing; particularly sports-oriented boulder-holders? Jockstraps: the hairshirt of gym class! More to be admired in the abstract than the actual wearing thereof. *hee! hee!* And you are, of course, correct in your statement that Harper Fox rules. My question is: has she ever really written a bad story?

back to top