This page is about The Wheel Mysteries series. These stories are contemporary murder mysteries and M/M erotic romances. Though parts of a series, they can be read as standalones.
These stories are important to me because in Finland wicca is not a registered religious community and thus has no official religion status, which makes it impossible for the practitioners to go to court when their rights are violated. This is a travesty of justice in my humble opinion.
The first book, Sparks & Drops, introduces Gus, a wiccan shopkeeper, and Valentine, a hardboiled private investigator, and how they get entangled in a murder inquiry.
This series, The Wheel Mysteries, revolves around the two men and their developing relationship. There are eight wiccan festivals, or sabbats, in a year. Each story in the series happens against the backdrop of one of them. As such, this series will consist of eight stories. No more, no less.
The novella, Sparks & Drops, released on Nov 20, 2013. This is a contemporary murder mystery and M/M erotic romance, and the first in The Wheel Mysteries series. This is available in e-book formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Here’s the blurb:
“The Wheel Mysteries: Book One
Magic is in the air when Gus Goodwin, a pagan shopkeeper and owner of the Four Corners’ occult shop, meets a Niall Valentine, a mysterious PI investigating the disappearance of a local witch named Joy. What starts out as harmless flirting and information gathering soon turns into a partnership, with both men determined to solve the case.
Then bodies begin to pile up. Someone is using fire and water to kill witches associated with Joy, and it is up to Niall and Gus to find out what’s going on. But when their friendship blossoms into something else, the unknown dangers looming ahead become even more frightening. If they can’t solve the murders soon, they’re going to get themselves killed.”
A 5 Star Review by The Romance Reviews:
"Oh my. What could be better? Two sexy guys finding each other amongst the wonderful traditions and experiences that is Wicca. As a Wiccan myself (a solitary practitioner, not particularly devout but finding sense in the tenets and beliefs of this wonderful way of life), I settled in to read this book with a sense of expectation. And I wasn't disappointed. --
SPARKS & DROPS is a beautifully crafted tale, layered with intrigue and secrets, plenty of sexual desire and lusty needs between Niall and Gus, all wrapped up in a clever tale of mystery.
I really enjoyed this book, for its characters and its setting in the Wiccan scene. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone out there who's looking for something a little different and wants a little magic with their story."
A 4.5 Star Review by Reviews by Jessewave:
"I have been following author Susan Laine since near the beginning of her writing career and I can honestly say she just keeps getting better and better. Her stories have become tighter with more intricate plots and her characters have moved beyond the standard fare to embrace both cute personality quirks and really lovely innate traits that make them feel so very real. Sparks & Drops is, once again, a novella that has it all and is highly entertaining to boot. --
All in all, Sparks & Drops is both a good mystery and a sweet romance, two of my favorite genres rolled into one. I really admire the way in which author Susan Laine always strives to write a better story, deeper and more involved characters and humorous and entertaining plot lines. Overall this was a solid story that left me ready and eager for the next installment."
A 4.5 Star Review by Joyfully Jay:
"Sparks & Drops contains so many different elements and combines them admirably. There is the mystery element as the men investigate first the missing Joy, a woman we get to know in her absence as the investigation
deepens. Then as the murderer strikes, the investigation turns deadly and the suspense ratchets up as the men themselves fall into danger. Laine superimposes Gus and Niall’s growing romance over her murder mystery, balancing love and the investigation
aspect equally. And importantly for this author, the teachings and rituals of the Wiccan religion flow like the threads of a tapestry throughout the story, pulling it together and highlighting its basic tenants while pointing out many misconceptions. It all
works here and works exceedingly well.
I loved her characters. -- So bring on the next mystery. I can’t wait to see what happens next to Gus and Niall. I absolutely recommend this to romance and mystery lovers alike. Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is terrific and works perfectly for the story."
A 4.5 Star Review by Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words:
"Sparks & Drops contains so many different elements and combines them admirably. There is the mystery element as the men investigate first the missing Joy, a woman we get to know in her absence as the investigation deepens. Then as the murderer strikes, the investigation turns deadly and the suspense ratchets up as the men themselves fall into danger. Laine superimposes Gus and Niall’s growing romance over her murder mystery, balancing love and the investigation aspect equally. And importantly for this author, the teachings and rituals of the Wiccan religion flow like the threads of a tapestry throughout the story, pulling it together and highlighting its basic tenants while pointing out many misconceptions. It all works here and works exceedingly well."
A 4 Star Review by Top 2 Bottom Reviews:
"-- The best bit was… the whole development of Wiccan/Pagan elements within the story. As a practitioner, I truly appreciated the factual way it was handled. This is NOT a story about magic, but a true account on things a Wiccan witch would know and understand. With Gus explaining things to the novice Niall, one could almost use this as a simple basic primer for the Wiccan way. -- (Recommended for) those m/m romance lovers who love a good mystery, like stories spiced with a Wiccan flavor, or don’t mind sexual frustration for the reader. --"
A 4.25 Star Review by The Novel Approach:
"I absolutely adored Sparks & Drops! Set in my favorite part of the country, the Great Northwest, this mystery wasn’t so complicated that I became lost in the storyline, and it managed to hold my interest from beginning to end. It even had a couple of surprises thrown in while figuring out the who-dun-it. Plus, it had the added bonus of learning more about Wicca practices."
A 4 Star Review by Dark Divas Reviews:
"A cute start to a fun new series. While there is a pretty good mystery and some serious stuff goes down, it feels fun and light. -- I like these guys. I am looking forward to reading more of their adventures. They strike a good balance between them and in many ways make excellent partners."
A 4 Star Review by GayListBookReviews:
"Susan Laine has created an impressive mildly suspenseful saga that I thoroughly enjoyed. Niall and Gus have a working partnership that evolves into a promising friendship."
A 4 Star Review by Literary Nymphs Reviews:
"Ms. Laine has a done a masterful job at showing the positive aspects of Wicca while weaving it into a mystery. Gus and Niall are an interesting pair and work really well together to solve the case. I enjoyed how Ms. Laine shows their attraction but keeps the growth of their relationship at a slow pace. It was enjoyable to see characters not falling instantly in love. I look forward to seeing where this series goes."
4 Star Review by Multitasking Momma's Book Reviews:
"I love reading books where not only do I get entertained, I also get to learn quite a few things I never thought I would learn. Sparks & Drops managed to do both and I truly enjoyed myself. -- I just so love mysteries, especially when they are written so well and is laced with just the right amount of romance. -- This story is a mystery first and a romance second and I am glad the author did not choose to include a hohum insta-lust-plot. Here, we see the two men get to communicate, get to know each other at a more personal level, get to develop a true and trusting relationship. I love stories like these where I can just get lost in the moment of trying to solve along with the men."
A Wonderful 4 Star Review by Rainbow Book Reviews:
"--This story is a brief but informative overview of the Wiccan and Pagan ways combined with a love story and an intense murder mystery. Having the story flow as well as this one does is a remarkable feat considering how much is going on. The religious aspects are so well blended in the story that it doesn't sound like Susan is proselytizing or dumping information when explaining them. Niall realizes being a witch is an intricate part of Gus's world. Wanting to be supportive and respectful, he graciously joins in ritual celebrations. Their mutual respect and playful banter adds an extra special touch to their budding relationship. I recommend this story to those who enjoy a good murder mystery with lots of twists and turns, are interested in learning more about the Wiccan path, a romance between two very different men, and, of course, a happy ending. Thanks, Susan, for the informative and entertaining tale. Blessed Be!"
The long novella, Devil's Own, released on July 2, 2014. This is a contemporary murder mystery and M/M erotic romance, and the second in The Wheel Mysteries series. This is readily available in e-book formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Here’s the blurb:
“The Wheel Mysteries: Book Two
A month and a half into their relationship, PI Niall Valentine and his occult shopkeeper boyfriend, Gus Goodwin, are hoping for a little time alone, but they’re thrown into another murder mystery.
Niall’s client, Angelina Talbot, is certain her new husband attempted to kill her, ambushing her in their bedroom, half-naked and covered in blood. Scared out of her mind, Angelina hit him with a lamp and ran away. Florian Talbot lies dead in the bedroom, his head smashed in with a lamp—but the door is locked from the inside. Is Angelina truly an unwitting murderer, or are more sinister forces at play?
With a family of eccentrics, borderline criminals, and Satanists, the real killer could be any number of people wandering the mansion that night under the cover of darkness. The entire Talbot clan thrives in secrecy. Still unfulfilled and utterly perplexed, Niall and Gus are tasked with shedding some much-needed light on the shadowy case.”
A 4.5 Star Review by Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words:
"Susan Laine gives the reader so many wonderful elements to enjoy in this story. A romance just getting under way, several mysteries, a couple of murders, and a deeper insight into the Wiccan religion and its worshippers as a whole. I can’t recommend this story and series enough. It’s entertaining, sexy, and yes, fascinating too. If you’ve read the first story, you will want to pick this up immediately. But if this is a new series to you, start at Sparks & Drops to see how Niall and Gus meet and the romance starts. The Wheel continues to turn and more stories will come. I can’t wait to see what happens next!"
A 4.5 Star Review by Multitasking Momma's Book Reviews:
"This is a fantastic installment to this series and I just found myself learning more and more of the mysteries of the occult. The way the author handled this, so matter of factly and quite clinically, helped me most. It is a subject that I fear but am curious of at the same time. What really got my full attention was how the mystery was woven. It was intricate, confusing and knotty at times, but at the end of the read, it revealed a convoluted plot that defied reason. Heck, these involved loonies so I am not surprised nor frustrated. -- This is a mystery, suspense, thriller romance set within the neighborhood of the occult. For those who love to unravel mysteries, this is a great series to follow."
A 4 Star Review by Love Bytes Reviews:
"Since this is a mystery, I don’t want to give anything more away; I’ll just say that this is an enjoyable story and a fun series. The plot is complex enough to keep you guessing and the characters are likable and engaging. If you like Victoria Laurie or Juliet Blackwell you will like this series. The romance is sweet and sexy, Niall and Gus are a great couple and I look forward to more books in this series."
A Great 4 Star Review by Rainbow Book Reviews:
"-- There's not much more I can say about this complex, fast-paced mystery without spoiling the seemingly endless revelations woven into this tangle of lies, deceit, murder, Satanism, and last, but certainly not least, the deepening love between Niall and Gus. If you enjoy a complicated, multi-leveled, murder mystery, Satanic rites, and a love story between two hot men who are total opposites but fit together perfectly, then you may like this book. Thanks, Susan, for another entertaining and informative story."
This novel, Fireworks & Wild Cards, released on June 1, 2015. This is a contemporary murder mystery and M/M erotic romance, and the third in The Wheel Mysteries series. This is readily available in both e-book and paperback formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Here’s the blurb:
"When Gus Goodwin’s friend and mentor, Juliette Hayes, asks him to find out who’s stealing small sums from the cashbox of her Moonlight Haven Coven, Gus agrees. What’s the worst that could happen? They catch a small-time thief and, with any luck, retrieve a few bucks. Gus enlists the help of his boyfriend, PI Niall Valentine, and Niall’s retired police officer father, Owain, to go undercover and solve the mystery.
On the night of the next full moon ritual, however, the coven is struck with a fatal blow.
Now Gus and Niall face more than a murder mystery. The coven is torn apart, and along comes an eccentric psychic and Tarot master—plus a familiar face both Gus and Niall had hoped was long gone. As fireworks ignite and wild cards are spread, Gus and Niall have their work cut out for them."
4.25 Star Review by Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words:
"Into the fabric of this story of murder, mystery and love, Laine continues to weave in-depth knowledge of the Wiccan religion, its fundamental tenets, history, rites and fight for acceptance. This unique framework has made this series not only one of my anticipated “reads” as each new story rolls out, but the author’s wide scope of knowledge and ability to make this religion accessible through her characters and plot make it a highlight of the year. -- Niall and Gus are still trying to find their way with each other and their new status as lovers. I really like that about this couple and story.. Their attraction and feelings for each other were quick to form but we never question that they are deeply felt and real. But like any believable couple, they question their partnership, feelings and course of the relationship. Miscommunication happens! So believable a couple. I just love that and them. -- I can’t wait [for the next 5 books]! Until then you will find me rereading the first 3 stories, looking for clues and enjoying the start of an unusual and deeply loving relationship. And yes, I highly recommend this story and series!"
A Great 4 Star Review by Rainbow Book Reviews:
"As with the other books in the series, this is a fascinating fast-paced murder mystery with lots of characters and subplots to follow all at once. In addition, it is much heavier in details about coven celebrations, Wiccan beliefs, and tarot card readings. -- If you like stories with covens, Wiccan celebrations, sexy men, lots of twists and turns, and a murder mystery solved, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Susan, for giving me continuous opportunities to read about Gus and Niall."
This novel, The Disciple, released on Oct 21, 2016. This is a contemporary murder mystery and M/M erotic romance, and the fourth in The Wheel Mysteries series. This is readily available in both e-book and paperback formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Here’s the blurb:
"Sequel to Fireworks & Wild Cards
The Wheel Mysteries: Book Four
Gus Goodwin witnesses a young man acting strangely at his occult shop—and a day later the same youth is found brutally murdered at a secluded Radical Faerie Sanctuary in the mountains. Gus and Niall Valentine, his private detective boyfriend, once again find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery.
First to cross their path is Professor Alex Kittridge, Gus’s ex-boyfriend. Then into the picture stumbles Autumnsong, the biggest enigma they’ve ever encountered, to complicate the already confusing case. As Gus and Niall try to decipher the meaning of the cryptic poems left at the murder scenes, their pasts not yet laid to rest put a strain on their relationship.
Gus and Niall must uncover a slew of secrets within a spiritual group of queer social rebels before the vile killer strikes again—or the investigation could very well end up being their last."
4 Star Review by Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words:
"I have long adored this series, not only for its characters and its murder mysteries but for its accurate use of the Wiccan religion. -- Gus and Niall’s relationship is always a work in progress, a factor that makes them and their partnership believable and feel real. They fight, make up, have doubts, and work through their issues like mature adults. I love that. Plus their sex scenes are very hot! -- Laine doesn’t disappoint us here with the mysteries either. We find out about the murders, the culprits and maybe something far more sinister. -- Love murder mysteries? How about romance too? Here’s a whole series to gobble up! Start at the beginning and work your way through until you reach The Disciple. I highly recommend them all."
4 Star Review by MM Good Book Reviews:
"--This story is a great addition to the Wheel Mysteries series -- I have to say that I enjoy discovering new-to-me pagan type religions that Susan Laine includes in her books. The storyline is brilliant, we are led on a merry dance as the guys dig into this investigation -- I recommend this to those who love mysteries and suspense, great characters, a dash of danger, an interesting investigation and a very happy ending."
4 Star Review by Bayou Book Junkie:
"I was able to follow along and enjoy the characters and murder case they're investigating -- The murder case, which is a focal point of this book, was really well done and engaging. There were plenty of twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing at who the culprit is. I found the story interesting and learned quite a bit about the worshiping done by those mentioned in the books. Radical Faeries was definitely a new one to me!"