I have some treats of contemporary reads for you this week from Gregory Ashe and Kristian Parker. Gregory Ashe is an author I’ve been meaning to read for ages so when I saw he had a YA Gay Romance series reworking of the Sherlock Holmes stories, I decided this was the moment to take the plunge into The Adventures of Holloway Holmes.
I was really intrigued by the blurb for book 1, The Strangest Forms, an American-set, modern-day Holmes story, based on the premise that Sherlock was a real rather than fictional character. So, in a school for troubled rich kids in Utah, the teenage Holloway Holmes (a descendant of Sherlock) is a student, along with a member of the Watson family.
So far, so interesting. But the point of view is from Jack Moreno, also 16, and the son of the school custodian, trying to keep everything together while his dad struggles to recover from brain injury due to a serious car accident that killed Jack’s mother.
Jack grabbed my attention from the start. He’s a street-smart wheeler-dealer but also possesses a huge heart and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. He’s mixed-up, funny, charming and tough and heartbreakingly vulnerable. So when a murder happens at the school and Jack and his dad are under suspicion for the crime, he is forced to join forces with chilly oddball Holloway.
The mystery was pleasingly complex and labyrinthine in true Holmes fashion (I loved all the sly references), but it’s the main protagonists and their growing understanding that makes The Strangest Forms such a fulfilling and hugely engaging read from Gregory Ashe.
Having devoured The Strangest Forms, I had to read The Old WheeI, the second book in the Holloway Holmes series. Although Jack’s life has stabilised slightly following the events of book 1, that doesn’t mean it can’t be turned upside down by his own actions and outside events, especially when he takes on another ‘consulting detective’ case of blackmail.
The mystery in The Old Wheel was complex and multilayered, and the pace never let up, even when it became clear that it was far more sinister than Jack (or this reader) imagined. What I enjoy most about this series is the emotional component. Jack and Holloway might be smart and resourceful but they’re still teenagers. It’s their imperfections that make this story so involving and compelling and makes them both so irresistible as characters. I can’t wait for book 3 which comes out in June.
Poor Kristian Parker must be sick of me mentioning his books on my blog. It’s entirely his fault for being such an entertaining writer! He’s also very prolific and seems to manage juggling at least two different series with ease. His latest release Reality Royal is from his ongoing Queen’s Crescent series, about how the glamorous other half of society lives, set in London’s exclusive Kensington.
I really enjoy how Kristian makes the privileged inhabitants of the crescent so likeable and relatable. Alexander, the MC in Reality Royal was no exception. He may be posh, but he’s also a trier and it seemed only fair that his latest venture into being a tv reality star teams him up with gorgeous soap star and older man Zac.
Their burgeoning romance was nicely contrasted by Alexander’s appallingly manipulative family and also Zac having to face his own shocks and revelations. This mix of steamy romance and emotional turmoil in Reality Royal made both characters all the more endearing and had me cheering on their HEA.
I’ve already said to Kristian that Queen’s Crescent is like a literary version of Made in Chelsea but much more entertaining and with far more realistic characters! I hope fans of the reality tv series will forgive me for that quip!