REVIEW: Turnbull House by Jess Faraday


Title: Tunrbull House
Author: Jess Faraday
Year of Publication: 2014
Genre: LGBT
Format: Ebook
Length: 288 pages
First Line: “November of 1891 was the autumn of my discontent.”

Summary: London 1891. Former criminal Ira Adler has built a respectable, if dull, life for himself as a confidential secretary. He even sits on the board of a youth shelter. When the shelter’s landlord threatens to sell the building out from under them, Ira turns to his ex-lover, crime lord Cain Goddard, for a loan. But the loan comes with strings, and before he knows it, Ira is tangled up in them and tumbling back into the life of crime he worked so hard to escape. Two old flames come back into Ira’s life, along with a new young man who reminds Ira of his former self. Will Ira hold fast to his principles, or will he succumb to the temptations of easy riches and lost pleasures?

Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

I was very excited when I was approved to read this book from Net Galley. I loved the cover and the description promised to hit quite a few of my favorite kinks and tropes. Then I opened the book and discovered that this was a sequel. I put it down. My philosophy had always been never to start a series anywhere else but at the beginning. It seemed stupid not to. But a day or so passed and every time I looked at my Kindle, TURNBULL HOUSE seemed to be staring at me, pleading with me to read it. I caved. I broke my own rule and read something that was not the first in its series.

I am so glad that I did.

TURNBULL HOUSE was special. So addicting. I needed to read more. The characters were distinct, sexy, and believable.

Ira was an ex-rent-boy (the hyphens!) who had gone straight (lol), earning his living by being a person secretary for Oscar Widle (this was set Wilde’s London, after all) and was on the board for a place called Turnbull House (we have a title), where orphans, typically ones who were prostitutes, could learn to earn an honest living. Things go wrong when the owners, Ira and husband and wife team Tim and Beth Lazarus (note: Tim used to be one of Ira’s ‘clients’ back in his rent-boy days. Awkward), found that hey were very close to losing Turnbull House. Ira decided to turn to his old lover, crime lord Cain Goddard for help. You could see where that quickly goes right?

This novel was so fulfilling. The plot was rich, the characters were fabulous. I loved all of the sexual tension. Apparently there’s something about Ira!

“John Thomas had seen more action in the past week than in the previous two years.”

Tim clearly still had feelings for his co-worker, kissing him a couple times (those scenes shouldn’t turned me on as much as did, right) despite being married to Beth. Ira’s other main love interest in the novel was Cain. Oh dear lord the sexual tension between Ira and Cain. They were in love each other but they haven’t reached a point in each of their lives where they can have a healthy relationship yet and it hurt to read. I enjoyed every second of it.

“If you tear up that contract, you’ll never have to deal with me again on any level.” He met my eyes. “Unless you want to.”
I swallowed hard. After all that had happened, I found the very idea inconceivable. At the same time, the very thing I had wanted– a fresh start with him, uncomplicated by the patterns of our past, and with every hope of a future of equality and mutuality– that very thing was dangling in front of me, daring to take it.”

Two quick notes. Be warned, there was a brief, non-graphic dub-con/rape scene. Also I noticed a editing error. Cathy become Kathy about half way through and then went back to being Cathy at the end. However, this could be disregarded since my copy was from Net Galley.

The only reason I gave TURNBULL HOUSE a B|four stars instead of an A|five stars was because of parallels between it and Sherlock. It was done on purpose but also wasn’t. It was odd. Tim was a bit like Sherlock in away, noticing every detail at a glance. Ira Adler whose name was so close to Irene Adler, reminded me of Watson, being Sherlock’s writer. There was a character, St. Andrews, who was so obsessed with Doyle’s tales of the consulting detective that he tried his best to emulate the fictional character, by becoming a consulting detective for the Yard and dressing like Holmes does. You could even say that Cain was Moriarty. TURNBULL HOUSE turned oddly meta when authors Doyle and Bram showed up, especially when Doyle and St. Andrews met and became instant friends. It was just weird.

After I finished reading this, I purchased the first book, THE AFFAIR OF THE PORCELAIN DOG and I am currently plowing through it. I am also very happy that on her blog the author reported that she was writing the third novel of the series, set in the American Wild West!

If you’re like me, and don’t want to give this book a shot because it is not the first in the series. Don’t worry, the author catches you up as you go along. Read it. You won’t regret it.

TURNBULL HOUSE will definitely be on my list of the best books in 2014.

Worst part: The Sherlock parallel.

Best part: The sexual tension between Ira & Cain and Ira & Tim.

Grade: B

Recommend For: Fans of Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde’s London, historical fiction, mystery, rent-boys, gangsters, complex relationships and of course LGBT. Yeah, this one has a little of everything.

Other Books by This Author: The Affair of the Porcelain Dog and The Left Hand of Justice


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