Pay It Forward · Review · Writing

Fangirl Friday: Read by Candlelight, by Gillian St. Kevern

I completely fell in love with this gothic mystery series when I first read book 1 (you can read the Fangirl Friday for that here) and then book 2 came out (read here) and it cemented my love for the entire series. Books 3 and 4 are also available, with Book 5 releasing in July.

This post will cover Books 3 and 4.

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Book 3: The Well-Dressed Werewolf

“When the full moon is a black-tie event.

Felix Wood, valet, is determined to halt his employer’s downward spiral. Just because the man is a vicious beast three nights a month doesn’t mean he can’t be an impeccably dressed gentleman the rest of the month. Felix’s commitment to duty convinces Westaway, a man of more wealth than sense, that Felix is the valet he—and his large wardrobe—deserve. There’s just one problem: Felix already has a gentleman, and his presence is the only thing between Robin and self-destruction.
When a werewolf and his keeper are brutally murdered, Westaway and Felix must work together to prevent the Society of Lycanthropes and their Keepers being ripped apart. But even as he risks his life to save Robin, Felix finds himself drawn closer to Westaway, in an attraction that could destroy everything he values.”

Book 4: The Haunted Bedchamber

“Wiremu’s not come halfway across the world to be stopped by a ghost.

Summoned from New Zealand by his tyrannical grandfather, Wiremu arrives at isolated Scarhill House to discover scheming relatives, hostile servants, and a secretary on the verge of a nervous collapse. Little wonder: the house is inhabited by a poltergeist with an apparent grudge against Wiremu’s family.

The poltergeist isn’t the only ghost in Scarhill House. Wiremu shares his bedroom with an invisible presence. As the ghost grows increasingly familiar, Wiremu enlists the reluctant secretary Patrick’s help to uncover the secrets of Scarhill House. Can Wiremu and Patrick lay these ghosts to rest? Or will they be haunted for the rest of their lives by Scarhill’s ghosts?”

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Amazon

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Gillian St. Kevern is the author of the Deep Magic series, the Thorns and Fangs series, the For the Love of Christmas series,and standalone novels, The Biggest Scoop and The Wing Commander’s CurseGillian currently lives in her native New Zealand, but spent eleven years in Japan and has visited over twenty different countries.

As a chronic traveller, Gillian is more interested in journeys than endings, with characters that grow and change to achieve their happy ending. She’s not afraid to let her characters make mistakes or take the story in an unexpected direction. Her stories cross genres, time-periods and continents, taking readers along for an unforgettable ride. Both Deep Magic and The Biggest Scoop were nominated for Best LOR story in the 2015 M/M Romance Groups Member’s Choice awards. Deep Magic also received nominations in Best Cover, Best Main Character and Best Paranormal, while The Biggest Scoop was nominated for Best Coming of Age.

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Website

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Book 3: The Well-Dressed Werewolf

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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The Well-Dressed Werewolf (Read by Candlelight #3) by Gillian St. Kevern
★★★★★
220 Pages
POV: 3rd person, one character POV

The Well-Dressed Werewolf is a gothic Victorian mystery with a difference. With werewolves, cameo appearances, strong characters, and a clever plot that leads you through twists and turns that are organic rather than contrived. With a mystery to solve, a serial killer on the loose, a love triangle, and hot tempers galore, there is so much to love in this intricately woven story of love, betrayal and passion.

Right from page one, I fell for Felix. He was as loveable, and as unique, as the other MC’s of the series, while retaining an individualism that made him a breath of fresh air. He had a playfulness when he was around Robin in the beginning of the story. Then he grew strong and more independent as the plot progressed. I wasn’t a fan of Robin at all, right from the start. He was a bit too arrogant, too assured of Felix’s love and obedience, and completely dedicated to their roles of Master/servant, without any hint of anything more except for when he wanted it.

I actually loved the dynamic between Felix and Robin. You could feel Felix’s love and completely see how he fell for the person he got to see behind-the-scenes, while you could also see Robin’s malcontent and regard for status. Then Julian Westaway appeared and things just went topsy turvy, in the best way. As the adopted son of Leighton and Cross – OMG! I was so excited about that, I just can’t tell you! – his story was so intriguing and captivated me right from the moment he first appeared. His almost-obsession with Felix made the love triangle and tension so much more palpable. You could see that every contact between Westaway and Felix – whether kindness, politeness or distance – only pushed Robin further towards jealousy and acting out.

This book has a much lighter tone for the first half of the story than the previous two and that was an intriguing diversion from the serious nature of the previous stories. There are a lot of little hints and slips of information from the start, about the werewolf aspect of the story, that were so intriguing and really nice to see. If you knew (as we do, from the title/blurb) what to expect, you could see all the signs that it was on its way. But it was just as good to see the shock and surprise in Felix and Robin when the revelation came.

The worldbuilding – as I’ve come to expect of this series and the author – was outstanding. With a clever and gradual release of information through Felix’s observations, we’re introduced to a world of werewolves, a secret society, and intrigue that keeps you hooked right from the start. There are so many intricacies within the plot, when connecting characters, hinting at what is to come, and revealing the truth of events. There’s an element of Holmes/Watson in the way Felix and Westaway came together to try to solve the murders.

What I really loved was that all the books take place in the same universe and you can tell the timeline by following the series as well as through the location, costume and speech patterns. In this book, Leighton makes a reappearance from books 1 and 2, but as an old man. And I love how eccentric and weird he’s become, obsessed with the occult. The link is small, but it’s one of those really cute moments of “OMG! Pip!” for those of us who love to spot the little links throughout the series. It also means that, although the books are all standalone, there are links for those who look for them. It adds a special touch that makes the series all the more enjoyable.

I am so excited for The Haunted Bedchamber. Bring on June 1st already! I have a pretty collection of Books 1-2 of this series so far, Book 3 will be added as soon as it’s available, and I’ve already pre-ordered Book 4. Because…no matter how long it takes, how many books there are…I’ll be here, waiting for the next one. Read by Candlelight is one of my new all time favourite series. Period.

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Favourite Quotes

“Well, Felix. I am a prisoner of my passion. The only man with the key to my release is you. What do you say?”
Felix rolled his eyes. “It’s very tempting to leave you locked in here.”
“Ah, so you desire my presence! I knew it.”

“Humber would never do anything so lower-class as allow himself to be murdered! The very idea was anathema to a butler.”

“It doesn’t matter who I serve, or who serves you.” His cheeks heated with the consciousness that Westaway held his breath. “You are my gentleman.”

“In stories the werewolf is always the monster. In this case, it was the man.”

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Book 4: The Haunted Bedchamber

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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The Haunted Bedchamber (Read by Candlelight #4) by Gillian St. Kevern
★★★★★
136 Pages
POV: 3rd person, one character

Wow! The Haunted Bedchamber is another resounding success, with a perfect blend of historical, paranormal and gothic mystery all rolled into one fantastic novel.

I’ve loved every book in the Read by Candlelight series so far, and I don’t see that changing any time in the future. Each book has its own magic, its own charm, and – for the first time ever! – each book *can* actually be read as a standalone. Though there are connecting characters and places, those are bonuses for those of us who want to read in order, throughout the entire series. But, to anyone new to the series, they can easily pick up book 4, be intrigued by the characters and then decide to go back and visit Pip and Cross’ story in book 1; or skip from book 2 to book 4. There is nothing stopping them from enjoying the series however they want, in whatever order they want.

Saying that, if you read the series in order, this one feels like it’s out of order but it’s really not. For me, it felt like it was in exactly the right place. Book 3 took us to a place where Pip was an old man, but it also introduced us to the idea of him being a paranormal enthusiast and paranormal hunter. That was important to tell us, before we ventured into this book, so that we could see how that fascination started and came to become an obsession. But also that he was the perfect person to help Wiremu deal with his ghostly problems.

I absolutely loved Wiremu, the New Zealander MC who is part of the Mauri people. I knew St. Kevern had skill and talent before reading this book, but I really fell in love with the authenticity of Wiremu’s character and his dedication to culture. I’m nowhere near close to understanding Mauri culture or the terms, but that didn’t matter. The terms used were so well used in the text that the context provided all the meaning I needed. And I appreciated that it wasn’t given as a lesson or with Wiremu having to endlessly explain himself. It was natural and flowed perfectly.

In the end…as with each book in the series…I loved everything about it. From the main characters, to the paranormal twist, to the return of Pip and Cross. I even liked the irascible old man Jarvis, for a while. His banter with Wiremu was brilliant. Wiremu was charming and different. Patrick was sweet and a little lost. I loved them all! The ghostly/invisible man aspect of the story was original and clever, but the big reveal of who and what the ghosts were was even better. I honestly didn’t see it coming.

Am I excited there is another book? Duh. Of course! I don’t read FF books much, but I’m already itching to get my hands on it, after reading the blurb. This series just does that to you. It makes you want to keep reading and keep exploring, because there are so many possibilities. I love seeing old characters return. And…I mean, Pip is in book 5, so of course I need to read it! It’s Pip! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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Favourite Quotes

“He’s not a man, he’s a spider. Once you’re caught in his web, that’s it. You can’t leave.” He spoke with venom. “No one here can leave.”

“As his hand clutched the bare sheets, a thought occurred. Did he want to free the ghost – or keep him?”

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