Mystery at the Masquerade: An M/M Cozy Mystery

Secrets and Scrabble 3

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Pub Date 28 Feb 2021 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2021

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Love is in the Salt Sea Air—and So is Murder!

Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, the Crow’s Nest, is both flattered and bemused when he’s invited to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade, the best and biggest social event of the season in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove, Rhode Island. The event is hosted by the wealthy Marguerite Bloodworth-Ainsley, a descendant of the famed pirate Tom Blood.

Ellery doesn’t even know Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley—nor, it turns out, does Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley know him. But Marguerite’s son, Julian, wants to know Ellery. Julian, handsome, rich, and engaging, is a huge mystery buff. In fact, he’s bought quite a few books at the Crow’s Nest bookstore, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask Ellery out.

As his relationship with Police Chief Carson seems to be dead in the water, Ellery is grateful for a little flattering attention from the village’s most eligible bachelor, but any hopes of romance hit the shoals when Julian is accused of murdering his mother’s unlikable second husband during the Masquerade’s annual ghost hunt in the family’s spooky cemetery.

Love is in the Salt Sea Air—and So is Murder!

Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, the Crow’s...

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ISBN 9781945802652
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Average rating from 44 members

Featured Reviews

A lovely little addition to this quaint, ‘feels British’ series of whodunnits. Pure class!

This instalment in the Secrets and Scrabble series could be read as a standalone, but you’ll enjoy it more if you’ve read books 1 and 2, as the recurring characters are lovely to catch up with, even the peripheral ones. My favourite has to be Watson, who’s turned into a lovely not-so-little scamp, which JL’s Author’s Note mentions is based on her own Watson 😊

We get to see the ‘are they? aren’t they?’ something between Jack and Ellery develop, and in this tale, after the ‘no they’re not’ feel of book 2, I was pleased that things might be warming up. It was good to see Jack open up – these protags are adult males who actually talk to each other, rather than letting things fester. Yay for that breath of fresh air. But, the reveal was a sad one that was hard to read, hard for Jack to share and hard for Ellery to take in, though it explained Jack’s standoffish stance a little. I think it cleared the air between them and cleared a path to their eventual HEA.

Satisfyingly, at the heart of the book was another well-constructed murder-mystery, with Ellery and his friends coming together to try and solve it. It’s the kind of book that you want to read in one go because of how well written it is, and how classy it is; it has a very quaint British feel of Miss Marple to it. And despite the lack of that staple of MM tales, i.e. on-page sex, this is a sexy tale because it oozes class and because of the author’s gift with words and intelligent wit. Roll on book 4.

ARC from the author and NetGalley for my reading pleasure, but such a good tale that I bought my own copy!

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Mystery at the Masquerade is the third book in the Secrets and Scrabble cozy mystery series by Josh Lanyon. Due out 28th Feb 2021, it's 219 pages and available in ebook format.

As a light and engaging series, this one is so appealing. Protagonist Ellery is drawn into murder and skullduggery again. That obviously puts the skids on his budding friendship/romance with the local island police chief, Jack who is on and off again. (Sort yourselves out, boys! Don't make me come over there).

Although this is the third book in the series, and I have admittedly read and reviewed the other two, I think it would work perfectly well as a standalone. The author is a technically adept writer and provides necessary backstory without info-dumping. The narrative is lighthearted, including an ensemble cast of oddball small-town characters. This is one I recommend without reservation to my cozy/romance/mystery loving friends.

There are some fairly silly and over the top developments and plot twists, but it's a village bookstore cozy, so it's really part of the whimsy. The "over the top" characters and dialogue were always on the right side of whimsical and charming and didn't shade over into annoying or yank me out of my suspension of disbelief, so it was a very fun read. There's also the required slow-burn on/off romance subplot with the handsome lawman, again par for the course (although I -did- find myself wanting to bang their heads together because of stubborn wilful pride and intentional misunderstanding!). The language is clean, the murder(s) are off screen and free from violence, there's no direct graphic sexual content; it's a well written and charming bookstore cozy. The author/publisher has taken pains to make it clear that the romance is between two men, so I won't mention that, but there's absolutely no content which would scandalize anyone's maiden auntie. This is pure escapist comfort reading, simple and fun. There's also no covid-19 in Pirate's Cove, Rhode Island, for which I'm grateful. Sometimes it's wonderful to just escape and live vicariously in the pages of my books.

Charming, diverting, and well written. I intend to seek out future volumes in the series. Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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I love a good whodunit and cozies are my preferred way to get my fix. I came across this book and the mask and title caught my attention, so I decided to try a new, to me, author. I'm so glad I did! A great setting, Halloween, a ghost hunt in an old cemetary, and a masquerade ball were the perfect background for this story with a load of suspects and red herrings.

The scrabble adult night games are a great theme for the title and I can't wait to see what the first two books are like and what the future holds for Ellery and Jack! If you are a cozy lover too, please give this series a try. It's a fresh change from the status quo and you'll find yourself enjoying a new author too!

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This is my first time approaching a book in the 'Secrets and Scrabble' series and initially there were some plot references from previous volumes and mentions to several characters that I didn't understand. However, aside from the initial confusion, 'Mystery at the Masquerade' has a full story built around it, with a very interesting mystery, which immediately grabs the reader's full attention. It can therefore be read as a standalone, without worrying too much about not knowing the story of the previous chapters - although I admit that Ellery's world fascinates me a lot, so I would like to give the complete series a chance.

Also, I had never read anything by Josh Lanyon, but I found her writing style very pleasant, smooth and well structured. The world she created is extremely fascinating, and all the pirate references are delightful. The author is really good at inserting many curious and funny details in the context, giving the reading a very pleasant momentum of humor.

"There were enough gowns and elaborate wings amd frock coats and breeches for three more 'Pirate of the Caribbean' sequels."

The whole atmosphere of the book is overall so warm and cozy, the descriptions suggestive and exquisitely detailed; is like being wrapped in a dreamy blanket during the whole reading. I really, really love this kind of storytelling.

"Just because Jack was in a chatty mood, just because his voice was slightly drowsy and warm and sort of... affectionate, just because Jack was kind-of-sort of sounding like a boyfriend, was no reason to jump overboard. Jack had been as clear as a guy could be that he did not want a relationship."

To conclude with the characters, I got pretty invested in them, expecially Ellery and Jack (and the lovely and cute Watson, of course). Ellery has the makings of the perfect aspiring-detective protagonist, with a good investigative spirit and the right amount of courage to fully embark on the investigation.

"He smiled at Jack, and Jack smiled back with the funniest, sweetest expression. A look Ellery had never seen on Jack's face."

OMG these two. They drove me crazy throughout the entire reading. The tension between them is so palpable.

"The subdued kitchen lighting gave everything a soft, golden sheen. Ellery studied Jack's face in that gentle light. It was a handsome face, yes, but also a good face, a kind face. A face he would like to keep in his life."

And the ending... so sweet and tender. Can't wait to see more of this lovely series and its precious characters. Josh Lanyon has my stamp of approval all over her work!

Final rating: 4,5 out of 5.

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4.5 stars

This is the third book in the Secrets and Scrabble series by Josh Lanyon.

This was a great book. I loved the male protagonist since you don’t normally see that in cozy mysteries. He was a bit of a reluctant sleuth even though Jack accused him of delving into situations and getting himself in danger without thinking.

There have been a bunch of burglaries in the area and Ellery runs across the gang going home one night and gets chased into an ice house.

Then during a masquerade ball the body of an unlikeable gent is found in the cemetery during their ghost hunt. Talk about spooky.

This is a pretty short mystery, a little over 200 pages, but it really packs a punch. This is definitely a series I want to continue to follow.

If you aren’t aware, this has a M/M romance on and off all the way through the book. There is nothing inappropriate and it is basically just kissing.

If you like cozy mysteries, definitely check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

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"Mystery at the Masquerade" is wonderful. I've loved each and every single one of the books in this gripping cozy mystery series, but I think this one was my favourite.
This time around Ellery, our favourite failed screenwriter and actor turned bookseller with a knack for solving murder mysteries (and for getting conked on the head), has to deal with a Masquerade, hidden tunnels and crypts, a tangle with Pirate's Cove oldest and most prestigious family, and Jack Carson, who can't make up his mind about whenever he and Ellery should remain just friends.
I loved every single bit of it. Ellery shines, as always: one of the things I love most about amateur sleuths stories (and Josh Lanyon's in particular) is the MC's tendecy to casually happen upon murder scenes and corpses without even trying and the results always leave me doubled over in laughter. Ellery is no different but he actually does try to be careful at times, so that was refreshing to see: one of the things I adore about him is his reluctancy to actually act like an amateur sleuth, even though fate (and half the village) are convinced he is. I also loved Jack quite a lot too. I won't spoil, but you'll see some new sides of him and get some insight into his heartbreaking past. He and Ellery have tons of chemistry, a delicious slowburn romance, and a lovely friendship: I cannot wait to see what will happen next. The other characters were equally lovable and wacky as usual, but Nora deserves a special mention: I love her, so damn much.
The murder mystery at the core of this book was gripping and twisty and very interesting and the atmosphere was even more pirate-y than the previous books. I loved it.
I'm so looking forward to reading the next installment.

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The book was great fun! I loved it the best of the three.

What I treasure about Josh Lanyon's writing is her willingness to take on twisted family dynamics along with M/M relationships. It's becoming clearer that the eccentric, wealthy families of the island are an excellent backdrop for mysteries and murders. Ellery has taken on a tinge of Adrien English, the L.A. bookseller turned amateur sleuth in her earlier series. I enjoyed the subtle humor, the quiet eroticism of the ending, and the moments of danger... which Lanyon does very well! It would be unfair to call Ellery a blundering fool, but his misadventure in the mausoleum was f-o-o-l-i-s-h. Also, I may be alone in this, but wish there were more of the Scrabble games. I find the Scrabble games potentially more interesting than the local repertory theater. And the character of Dylan always seems wasted, but that's a minor quibble.

I think it would have been hard to guess the motive for the murder (I didn't), but Julian was clearly as crazy as a coot, and (again) Ellery's ambivalence over Julian reminded me of Adrien English. Luckily, one senses that Ellery will be less of a flirt going forward as long as Jack is solidly in his "camp." And that seems to have happened. It was nicely done. Bottom line, the first two books seemed rushed to me. This didn't, and was all the better for it.

I will return with the Amazon link when the site lets me post the review. I just wanted to send this off! Thanks for the review copy.

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Netgalley is a good way to discover authors and since I started reading Josh Lanyon’s book he became one of my favorite authors.
This cozy series is amongst my favorite and it’s also one of my favorite cozy mystery series.
There’s plenty of humor, well written and likable characters and solid mysteries. It’s a perfect cozy mystery written tongue in cheek and the stories always keep me hooked till the last page.
This story is no exception and I read it in one setting. I was happy to catch up with the quirky characters and appreciated the evolution in Ellery, less clumsy than before, and his slow burning romance with Jack.
Watson is one of the loveliest dog in the cozy mystery universe and he always makes me wish I had a dog like him.
The mystery is full of red herring, twists and turns. It kept me guessing and the solution came as a surprise.
This novel can be read as a stand-alone but it’s better to read the entire series as there is some backstory.
I can’t wait for the next two installment that I already preordered.
A highly entertaining and gripping story that I strongly recommend.
Many thanks to JustJoshin Publishing, Inc. and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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I received this ARC via Netgalley and JustJoshin Publishing, Inc, in return for an honest review. While the third book in this series, it is easily read as a standalone, other than a few references in the beginning to earlier incidents from the preceding books. Ellery Page is a former movie star and now owns a fabulous bookstore in Pirates Cove, Rhode Island. As a newcomer, he’d not expected an invitation to THE event of the social year, the annual Marauder’s Masquerade Ball. Hosted by the descendants of a famous pirate, the Bloodworths, Ellery is astonished to learn that he’d been specifically invited by Julian Bloodworth as a potential romantic interest. While Ellery’s flattered, Julian isn’t how sets his heart racing. That honor belongs to local police chief, Jack Carson. Unfortunately, Jack runs hot/cold any time they’re together, so Julian’s attention is a nice change. When Ellery and Julian stumble across a dead body in the family mausoleum, things take a macabre turn and put an end to the evening for everyone. Jack’s reactions to Ellery and Julian are also interesting in the context of the evening. When Julian is arrested, he begs Ellery to figure out who committed the murder before Julian is convicted. With great trepidation, Ellery agrees, and the amateur detecting is underway.
Ellery is very human and well written. His attraction to Jack, the frustration with the personal mixed messages, Julian’s rather infantile infatuation, the plethora of suspects – all combine to make a solid cozy. If you’re concerned about reading a male/male relationship cozy, Josh Layton is adept at presenting the characters delicately and appropriately. The physical aspects are limited to kisses and hugs. You’ll be rooting for a good resolution for Ellery and Jack’s possible relationship and how things evolve in the future storylines. Add in the delight of Ellery’s new puppy, Watson, and this is a very satisfying cozy mystery.

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I don't read a lot of cozy mysteries - they aren't typically my thing but I really love this series. I like Ellery's wit, and humbleness. I'm intrigued and rooting for his relationship with Jack which had a set-back in the previous book. The mystery in this one was also well done and kept me engaged. These books are light, easy to read and entertaining. It's a quick read that left me smiling and looking forward to the next book in the series. The secondary characters in the charming seaside town are fun and amusing and make me want to live there. The romance in this series is definitely a very slow burn but I' enjoying the journey and look forward to more.

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I want to move to Pirate's Cove to join the Monday Night Scrabblers, browse the Crow's Nest book store, visit Captain's Seat and have tea with Ellery. And not just because I fucking love his name Elle... Er... Rrry Tongue against teeth, rolling your Rs. He is an experience and so is saying his name. *shudders pleasantly*

We return to the Cove in this third (of possibly 8) installment whereby there's a new misadventure to be had. Police Chief Jack Carson (diet Jake) has a case. There's burglary afoot, a string of them that have been hitting the high end homes with security systems that rely on the decency of neighbors to dissuade any ill-gotten gaining.

As the police are dealing with the string of home break-ins, a murder occurs at the town's masquerade party. And once more, Ellery finds himself caught up in his side gig as an amateur sleuth.

We also get more details about why Jack is Jakeing the way he is. It's a sweet development between the two leads and part of what he says leaves my heart smiling.
“It’s like living with a bullet in your heart. You figure it will kill you eventually— hell, you rely on that— but until then you go through the motions of pretending you’re still alive. And that’s how it is and how you figure it will always be. But then one day you notice the sunrise is beautiful. And one day you enjoy your cup of coffee. And one day something makes you laugh. And finally one evening you look across the room and see a guy having dinner and think, I wonder what he’s like.”
This book just hits you right in the feelings. And it's a cozy!? How dare it make me cry.
“The problem with that thinking is you’re choosing equilibrium over joy.”
There was also a lot of fun to be had from Ellery's assistant and professional town gossip Nora. Ellery finally stands up to the small town human answer to the Daily Mail, Sue, in a scene that was well overdue. I'm just sad she didn't fall in a steaming heap of manure. For science, of course. Ellery's rambunctious puppy, Watson, is also cool I guess. I don't know all the hypupperactivity just made me hyperaware of just how much I prefer cats.

But I digress, I can't wait for Ellery's next adventure. I most certainly can't wait to see if the residents of Pirate's Cove will finally figure out that his play Murder Mansion wasn't actually a comedy.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Murder at the Masquerade is the third book in the Secrets and Scrabble series — that follows Ellery Page, a bookstore owner and amateur sleuth who resides in the seaside village of Pirate's Cove. Once again, Ellery is reluctantly dragged into another murder investigation — this time, at the town's most prestigious yearly event. This time, Ellery is surprised by the attentions of Julian, the son of one of the wealthiest families in Pirate's Cove. Paying a visit to Julian's family crypt, they stumble across the body of Julian's unlikeable stepfather, and Ellery is inadvertently drawn into the investigation, much to the chagrin of Police Chief Jack Carson.

Like the past two books, this was an intriguing yet lighthearted mystery populated with numerous shenanigans and quirky, oddball secondary characters. I really loved journeying along with this zany set of vibrant characters as the pieces of the puzzle slowly fit into place, and the mystery unfurled. I've come to love the folks of this village community, and it's heartwarming to see them slowly begin to accept Ellery as one of their own.

Though the mystery itself is at the forefront of the story, we do see a significant step forward in Ellery's hot and cold, push and pull romance with Police Chief Jack Carson. I look forward to future books to see where their relationship goes. But as this is a cozy mystery, there is no on-page violence, swearing, or sex, so this is the perfect story for those who don't like their mysteries too gory or too sexy.

All in all, I found it delightfully inventive, playful, humorous and clever, with all of its creepy crypts, hidden tunnels, and over-the-top characters and situations. This tongue-in-cheek story is a treat for cozy mystery fans.

Oh, and Ellery's lovable dog Watson, who plays a more significant part in the story this time, is the cherry on top of this fun and delightful tale.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a review copy of this book.

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situational-humor, verbal-humor, island-life, small-business, small-town, romance, family-dynamics, friendship, LGBTQIA, law-enforcement, murder, murder-investigation, amateur-sleuth*****

First off, I have never read anything by this author before but I liked it so very much that I bought the first two in series on audio before I had even finished this one. And not because it couldn't stand alone, either, but because this one was so good! It truly follows all the cozy criteria and has a great plot, fascinating characters, and laughs. It also has a police detective, a bookshop owner and former professional TV actor named Ellery (like Ellery Queen mystery writer!), a frenetic puppy named Watson (is there any other kind?), and the Silver Sleuths (but no covid).
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from JustJoshin Publishing, Inc. via NetGalley. Thank you!

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This third installment in John Lanyon's new cozy mystery series was unexpectedly published in early 2021, ahead of schedule, and it is a welcome ray of sunshine (and murder).

Ellery and Jack, Buck Island's gorgeous police chief, are still friends .... just friends, no benefits. They share an easy casual friendship involving sanding, sawing and plenty of other home repairs at Ellery's decaying Dutch Renaissance style mansion, but anything beyond that involves the two men warily circling around any sort of actual involvement.

But an unexpected invitation to the annual Marauder's Masquerade at Bloodworth Manor puts Ellery in the middle of a murder in a mausoleum, with plenty of suspects and intrigue. Of course, Nora finds the murder a bit too convoluted.

"A hard shove down the stairs, a balcony railing giving way," Nora was saying dreamily. "That how you do it."
"Sometimes you scare me," Ellery remarked.

Don't get me wrong - like Nora, I simply adore a good old-fashioned murder mystery, and while the mystery here is interesting, well-written and completely gripping, I think I actually squealed in delight at the very G-rated, yet nicely steamy debut of some perhaps more-than-friendly benefits between Ellery and Jack. 4 stars for "Mystery at the Masquerade."

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Rating 4.5

This is the third book in the Secrets and Scrabble series. This has been a wonderful addition to the cozy mystery series. I love the characters in this series, not just the main characters, but the whole island has some wonderful characters that make up the cast of the book. The story is fast paced and hard to put down. Such a great series, I can’t wait for the next installment.

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This book was amazing.

I am a big fan of this author, she always entertains me with her crime cases, but above all with her beloved characters. I love the dynamics of Ellery and Jack. There is drama but at the same time there are touching and funny moments.

Also, I love the dynamics with the secondary characters and this picturesque town that seems to have the worst luck in the world hahaha

It's so easy to imagine everything, to watch the characters move around Pirate’s Cove, especially to imagine Ellery getting into every possible trouble. That's why I love Josh Lanyon's storytelling so much.

This book has humor and enough action to keep you glued to the pages until the end.

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Ellery certainly has a way of finding trouble… or trouble usually finds a way of finding him. Regardless of how it happens, Police Chief Jack Carson is not impressed. But, since Jack has made it pretty clear that friendship is the only thing he’s interested in from Ellery, impressing Jack is the least of Ellery’s concerns.

Jack’s one of those characters that I really wanted to like, but because of the way he’s treated Ellery since the beginning of the Secrets and Scrabble series, I really can’t. I’ve spent a lot of time so far feeling that Ellery could do so much better. For the record, Julian was interesting, but I couldn’t quite see him with Ellery either. *sigh*

Ellery is flattered by Julian’s interest at first, but it becomes increasingly clear that a real relationship with the man isn’t in their future. Having Julian being accused of murder didn’t help, but it was pretty obvious before that. Regardless, Ellery feels bound to help Julian when he asks for it and once again gets drawn into an investigation he never intended to become a part of, as well as landing in the middle of all the danger surrounding the case. Hence, Jack’s frustration.

I enjoyed spending time with Ellery again, who is becoming one of my favorite amateur sleuths. The mystery was intriguing and the characters were witty and fun. Even the quaint setting is a place I’d love to visit, if not for all the unfortunate murders. I also have to admit that by the end of Mystery at the Masquerade, Jack was even beginning to grow on me. Time will tell and I can’t wait for their next adventure. 😉

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One of those books that you plan to only read a chapter before bed then next you know you're on the last chapter.

Ellery has an ideal job at the Crow's Nest bookstore which is the only place in town to find mystery books and after two murder investigations under his belt, he's a pro at solving mysteries. The story is decked out in pirate finery with the whole town themed in piracy and the upcoming ball is no exception. Now Ellery gets a chance at some romance with a mask, a pirate costume, and a handsome bachelor that actually seems interested in him. The ball adds a touch of Cinderella to the plot. If Cinderella was filled with piracy, murder, and a nosy sleuth. Jack doesn't want him to investigate another murder, but Ellery can't quit his curiosity and this lands him into just a bit of water. But as he dives into this new mystery, he seems to get a chance at getting closer to Jack in a way that he's been hoping for. The writing is witty, clever, and charming, driven out of the voice of Ellery and the characters that surround him. The romance elements shine through and you'll find yourself rooting for the complex dynamic of Jack and Ellery.

On the surface, Julian is everything that Ellery hoped for. He's a regular prince charming and seems to reciprocate interest, but Ellery's thoughts still seem to venture to Jack. Though that relationship has been a tangled web since the beginning. The connection with Jack is at the core of his drama, frustration, and tension that creates a charming mystery that has the undercurrent of romance. The story opening a side of vulnerability to the chief that allows a chance to get to know the character on a deeper level. Their connection is at the heart of the story and adds a sweetness that is addicting with every page making you want to know how they'll end up.

Lanyon has a talent for witty and entertaining characters that fill Ellery's life. Nan, Dylan, and Nora create a unit for him that acts in the vein of "mother hens" that take care of him, support him, encourage him, and even give him advice on his love life. They're also a great source of gossip about the town that comes in handy for his investigation and create a family unit that helps to ground him in the community. The characters make you feel like part of the story and make you want to take your own trip into the town to shop at the Crow's Nest, don a pirate's costume, and eat at the Salty Dog.

Loved every second of this mystery and can't wait for the next one!

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Prior to starting Josh Lanyon's Secrets and Scrabble series I had never read a "cozy mystery." I was vaguely aware of the concept -- nice small towns beset with murders and an armchair detective type who inevitably saves the day. I'm more of an action/car chases/thriller sort of mystery reader so I didn't quite see the appeal but now I'm hooked on the Secrets and Scrabble series!

As a new cozy mystery convert, here's what I loved: Ellery Page, new arrival to the island town of Pirate's Cove and owner of the mystery book shop, the Crow's Nest. Ellery is a genuinely nice guy who does not deserve any of the messes he gets into as murder after murder stacks up on the island. And yet he continues to muddle through, helping solve crimes with the assistance of Nora, his nosy shop helper; Watson, his adopted puppy; and Police Chief Jack Carson, his enigmatic new friend and love interest. Each new mystery introduces the reader to a new aspect of island life and drama, bringing in a cast of recurring characters (some you love, some you despise) and locations.

Mystery at the Masquerade introduced the high society of the island and landed Ellery in a bit of a romantic quandary with a new suitor. For once, Ellery is not the top suspect in this book's murder and has more leeway to do his amateur sleuthing, much to Police Chief Carson's chagrin. As usual, I enjoyed reading about Ellery's adventures and finding out more about Pirate's Cove. As a lover of queer romance, Ellery and Jack's story has been a bit of a departure from what I usually read -- it's slow and tentative but very sweet and I'm eager to see what happens with them next! I highly recommend this series if you want to a legitimately cozy read filled with great characters and a good mystery.

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I loved this book. It's such a break from everything going on with the world, and basically just a cozy mystery where the main character is gay. The supporting characters are all your typical cozy mystery oddball, lovable people. There are no crazy twists but it's not that the story is predictable, but rather that it flows in a way that keeps you engaged but not guessing. It was very sweet! If you're looking for car chase and bullets flying, this isn't for you. If you're looking for the gay version of murder she wrote, here it is!

I received an advance copy of the book to provide a review, but that didn't impact the substance of the review.

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Murder at the Masquerade features gay male cozy characters

Posted on May 21, 2021 by michellelovatosbookreviews, world's first book color commentator, book reviews with a twist

I’m not sure how I feel about male cozy mystery protagonists. The truth is, I can’t remember ever reading one before. I guess that makes me a male cozy virgin. Josh Lanyon defiled me with Ellery Page, the hunky hero of Mystery at the Masquerade, an M/M cozy, Secrets and Scrabble mystery, book 3, by Josh Lanyon.
Oh, I love the nerds. And Ellery is so perfectly stacked to be my kind of Scrabble geek too. Here’s the stack up; he is the reigning champion Scrabble player, the Crow’s Nest Bookstore owner in his village of Pirate’s Cove, and he’s an aspiring screenwriter. And I’m not the only one who thinks this handsome hero is as cute as a puppy.
Let me introduce you to the story. See, Ellery is invited to a masquerade party by the wealthy Marguerite Bloodworth-Ainsley.
That sounds fun—sort of Cinderella near the seaside.
When Ellery gets there, looking all slick and hidden, he learns that he’s not so secret after all. It turns out that Marguerite has a son who has the hots for Ellery too.
SCRATCH! What?! Is he gay? Oh, man, what a bummer. Well, I guess I’m out for falling in love with this fiction fashion model.
But, Julian, Marguerite’s son and descendant of a pirate is right on track to take over in the love department.
That is, of course, a problem. Ellery must simultaneously fend off the feigning frenzied friend as he works to solve the recent murder of Julian’s stepfather. Complication. Ellery’s big nose is sniffing around Police Captian Jack Carson’s case. Oh, and Jack is Ellery’s on-again, off-again love interest during the past two books.
Oh, what will this cozy king do? What Watson? Is it elementary? Hmm. I thought you were Ellery’s puppy?
I’m sure we all know what comes next, and that is the fun of all cozy mysteries, of which this one is no exception.
I was surprised to see a gay male protagonist in Ellery, but I am glad to see that this book doesn’t have any stereotypical church fanatics with signs and waggling fingers following him around. Jack and Julian are enough. And I’m relieved to report that life in Pacific Grove progresses normally.
Will Ellery find the killer? Will Jack commit to Ellery as much as he commits to his job? Will young, handsome Julian be out on the street or wrapped up in a warm, knitted blanket next to Ellery and a cozy fire?
I guess we’ll all have to read this JustJoshin Inc. publication to find out.
Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Screenwriter and former actor Ellery Page is finally settling into quaint but active Pirate's Cove. He's got himself an unexpected invitation for the party of the season, a masquerade ball at the Bloodworth house--one of the many pirate mansions dotting the cove. It turns out that Julian Bloodsworth-Ainsley is a big fan of Ellery, finding him both mature and attractive, and he wanted a chance to spend some time with Ellery that could be fun and lead to frisky times. Though Ellery is a bit smitten with Police Chief Jack Carson, it doesn't seem that Jack is ready to make any true advances, due to his long-standing heartbreak and fear of commitment. Besides, Jack's pretty busy investigating the rash of burglaries that have been plaguing the grand houses and wealthy of Pirate's Cove for the past few months.

Flattered by Julian's attention, Ellery mostly enjoys the masquerade, until Julian's uncouth and mean stepfather turns up dead. While the man's mistress and wife are both suspects it's also Julian that Jack has his eye on--after finding the body and messing up the crime scene. Ellery feels terrible for Julian, because he believes the young man is being set up, and Jack seems pretty resolute on developing a case against Julian. And, of course, Ellery is still plagued by the editor of the local paper, who thinks that it's Ellery's activity which deserves far more scrutiny.   

I loved how Ellery is now becoming a man of the town in his own right. His friends are all in his corner, and his eye for detail is definitely a point in this amateur sleuth's favor. He's willing to go the extra mile for his friends, new and old, and it shows in all his actions. I love that he finally takes on the editor of the paper, and stands up to Jack for Julian's sake when it's necessary. His bookshop is a hub of fellow sleuthers--though they are more overt than Ellery, who, more often than not, stumbles into scenes and clues as opposed to LOOKING for a mystery to solve. 

This case leave a lasting mark on Ellery, one that gives both him and Jack pause. Recognizing (again for Jack) the shortness of life spurs them both on to becoming a bit more serious. Don't expect steam, it's a cozy mystery with a dash of a romance. 

I flew through this story, much like the previous books in this series, and I recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries, especially those starring LGBTQ characters.

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Crime has hit the island once again as a series of burglaries rocks the community. But Ellery, aspiring screenwriter and owner of the mystery bookstore, the Crow’s Nest, is more intrigued by his invitation to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade, the biggest social event of the season. Julian, the hostess’ son, wants to get to know Ellery more. With his relationship with Police Chief Carson stalled, Ellery is open to some introductory reading. But things get stormy, when Julian is accused of murdering his mother’s second husband during the party…

A really engaging group of characters. I would love to be able to live in a community like this. I would definitely be a regular at this book store. There is also development of characters in this book. The reader finds out more about why Police Chief Carson is hot and cold about a relationship and it is enough to break your heart. It feels true without being overindulgent.

That’s not to mention a cute but very rambunctious puppy.

Then, there is a good mystery to top it off. This is a series you should definitely have on your radar and it is a great summer read.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review.

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I love this series. The romance is moving at a glacial pace which fits the characters perfectly (although I had several squee moments in this one) but the romance is just a lovely backdrop to the mystery story.
Clever cosy mystery with a reluctant amateur sleuth. Ellery's love of puzzles and natural inquisitiveness is the driving force behind him solving the mystery. As always in these type of books Ellery has TSTL moments, but at least he acknowledges that he 'should have phoned Jack ten minutes ago'.
Putting another romantic interest in Jack's eye line moves the romance forward in this one, even if Julien verges on stalkerish behaviour.
I wish I could say that I solved the murder early in the book but I didn't realise until Ellery did so the author placed the clues perfectly.
Highly recommend this series.

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