Book Reviews

Darkwater House by Samuel King at Pride Publishing

Genre Gay / Paranormal / Ghosts/Spirits/Hauntings / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by ParisDude on 29-September-2020

Book Blurb

When Toby meets his sexy neighbor Sean, he embarks on a new romance, but there’s also a haunting and a murder mystery to deal with.

There’s romance waiting for Toby at Darkwater House. Set on the edge of London’s beautiful Hampstead Heath, what better place for love to blossom with a stunningly handsome stranger?


But as Toby explores a passionate relationship with his dream man, dark forces are stirring within the walls of Darkwater House. There’s an angry spirit haunting the corridors and Albert the creepy landlord might be a killer. 


As passion grows between Toby and his new neighbor Sean, they also work at unearthing the secrets of Darkwater House, looking for the evidence that will convict Albert, finally lay the angry ghost to rest and allow their love story to deepen. 



Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of suicide, murder and a character who is a sexual predator. There are also scenes of public sex.

Book Review

The novel is set in London, where Toby works as a freelance journalist. Work-wise he currently isn’t very busy, so he has way too much time to feel lonely, think about his hapless life… and drink. One morning he wakes up in his ex’s bed after yet another wine binge and knows he urgently needs to get his priorities straight again. That’s when a stranger offers him the much-desired change of scenery: a nice flat off Hampstead Heath, one of the posher parts of London, for a perfectly affordable price. Determined to make the most of this opportunity, Toby leaves his sordid flat in Islington. Change of premises, change of life. His plans for the New Toby 2.0 include, a) drink less, b) focus more on his writing assignments, and c) stop all those meaningless one-night stands he has indulged in over the last few months.


Unfortunately, when he moves into his new apartment, he stumbles upon his next-door neighbor Sean. Muscular, hunky, handsomer-than-thou Sean, he with the lush dark hair and the Irish accent that could melt the whole North Pole region in one sentence. Alas, Sean also seems to be 200 percent straight and not very amused by Toby’s obvious ogling. Try as he might, Toby can’t help it—he becomes all but obsessed with the beautiful neighbor. And then, very strange things start to happen in the building. Ghostlike apparitions and a near-death experience in his very own bathtub shake up Toby; meeting Sean one night while the latter is having oral sex in the dark corner of the park where gays gather for anonymous, casual encounters makes Toby forget his best intentions, and he starts drinking again. But Sean doesn’t seem to be as straight as he looks and might even be interested in Toby. And the nice apartment building where they both live seems to hide some gruesome secrets that could become dangerous before long…


I rather enjoyed this book, but I do have a few niggles. Let’s list those first. A minor one to start with: the author as well as the publisher (if I investigated this correctly) are both English, the book is set in London. I don’t understand why the heck the spelling should be US-English and why there wasn’t more typical UK-English coloring to the language. I would have liked that. More seriously, the first part—which fills almost a quarter of the book—merely served as an introduction of the main character Toby, his living conditions, his fads, his obsessions, his weaknesses. As such, it didn’t add much to the main plot, be it the romance or the crime investigation; it even seemed to postpone any serious action. In other words, I felt that either that part was too long or the rest of the novel too short. Indeed, from the moment Toby saw the first apparitions and became obsessed with his neighbor, things seemed to rush, rush, rush towards the ending. At the end of the book, I had made up my mind, by the way: for my taste, the novel was over too fast, so it could/should have been longer (which is a positive niggle as only badly written texts make me wish the book were shorter). The last niggle: even though the principal angle of this novel is not what one could call “a whodunnit”, the suspense was rather wanting as I knew very quickly who was the culprit. Some secondary characters could have been fleshed out in a shadier way perhaps, some scenes driven to more thrilling peaks. As it was, the crime (and ghost) narrative babbled along like a nice brook in high summer. Maybe that’s the thing: the author didn’t seem to be able to make up his mind whether to write a ghost story, a crime story, or a romance. He therefore did an almost slapdash job for the first two components.


As for the romance, that was the best part of the novel, the part that saved it in my eyes. Truth be told, in the beginning I didn’t feel any fondness neither for Toby the sex-crazed, unrepentant alcoholic nor for Sean, the cute but rude Irishman. That changed when the romantic dynamics kicked in. They were really sweet to watch, these two handsome youngsters falling slowly but relentlessly for each other. I sensed how much good they could do to each other, so I was fervently praying for a Happily Ever After soon after their first, awkward meetings. And that is what every nice, cozy romance should achieve in my opinion. Toby’s and Sean’s story made the book a pleasant read—and that’s why I would have preferred it to be a tad longer. All in all, a satisfying romance with a pinch of crime/ghost story.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 201 pages/50743 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 29-September-2020
Price $4.99 ebook, $10.50 paperback
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