behind iron laceRating: 5 stars
Length: Novel
Buy Link: Amazon

Darcy Butler relocated his fledgling e-magazine to New Orleans because his ten year, on-again-off-again girlfriend, Bailey, talked him into it. But that doesn’t mean he likes it. New Orleans is hot, humid, smelly, and there are bugs everywhere. Focused on his baby, the magazine, Darcy jumps at the chance to meet with a Pulitzer Prize winning artist and photographer with hopes of improving the magazine’s art department. When Caleb Mitchell walked into the bar for their meeting, Darcy didn’t expect the strange attraction he felt to the photographer.  After all, Darcy is straight – has always been, will always be. It must be the heat.

Caleb Mitchell is a bad boy that has lived fast and dangerously. He’s returned to New Orleans after traveling the world to take care of his dying mother. In order to keep from going stir crazy, Caleb sought out the young magazine that can obviously use his help and expertise. When he first meets Darcy, something about the naughty librarian façade made Caleb want to push Darcy out of his comfort zone.

Misread signals lead to an impromptu first kiss that leaves Caleb with a sting in his shoulder and a bruise on his butt cheek from the fall to concrete, but that doesn’t dissuade him; it only makes him want to work harder. A sensual seduction, a weekend to remember, his confusing sexuality, a sordid past, and a manipulative ex-lover leave Darcy with more questions that he has answers. As his confusion and a painful revelation threaten to destroy the tentative hold he has on his new life, Darcy has to figure out who to believe and whether or not to follow his heart before he loses it all.

If you were to look up the word “smexy” in any dictionary, this book would be the definition. On my top ten list of all-time favorites, Behind Iron Lace by Mercy Celeste hits all of the triggers that make a showstopper of a book in my eyes – tortured heroes, sexy, sexy boys, angst, a compelling storyline, beautiful storytelling, believability, heartbreaking conflict, kink, and did I mention smexy? And trust me, that’s only the beginning.

Okay, so let’s start with the characters. Celeste has an innate ability to create characters that are not only beautiful on the outside, but inside as well, broken, conflicted, likable, and believable. She gets into their heads, creating amazing characters. And as always, Celeste’s characterization is spot on. Darcy and Caleb are sweet innocence meets dirty bad boy – total opposites, and totally perfect. Darcy is quiet, confused, and tortured. He is afraid of what he wants because it’s never been an issue for him before. He is essentially a gay for you character, but there’s more to him than that. After nearly thirty years of life, he’s finally finding himself. And whereas he’s confused and less confident in his emotions, Darcy is a strong, beautiful man.

Caleb is everyone’s bad boy fantasy come to life in this book…or at least he should be. He is cocky, confident, and sexy as hell, not to mention the accent. Yes, the accent. As I read the story I could practically hear Caleb’s rumbling, sometimes Cajun, unbelievably sexy and entrancing accent. But as with most bad boys his outside doesn’t really match his inside. At his heart, he’s afraid of love. He’s scared of loss. He’s lived a life that most wouldn’t survive, and he would rather keep his past in the past. He’s wonderfully complex and broken. Caleb is one of my very favorite characters. Ever.

This story itself is captivating from beginning to end. I am always amazed when I would rather finish a book rather than sleep. And this is one of those books that lead to lack of sleep. The plot is engrossing and heartbreaking and filled with hope. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to scream. You’ve seen me critique “more showing, less telling” before? Mercy Celeste is an author that shows a story more than she tells it. It doesn’t matter how many times I read this book, I’m glued to the world of Darcy and Caleb and I never want it to end.

So, can we talk about smut now? The sexual tension between Darcy and Caleb is palpable and inevitable, even in the first scene they share. But their lovemaking? Wow! Take my advice, have a fan close by while reading. You’ll thank me later. Here’s the thing. The scenes are hot (like, fire hot) and breathtaking and completely sexy, but they’re also alluring and heartwarming and lovely. Each lovemaking scene is beautifully written and adds so much to Caleb and Darcy’s story.

And lastly, the title. So many meanings lie with this title. When you read the book you’ll understand. The tattoo with its hidden meanings, the collection of paintings and their painful story – it’s the perfect title for a book of perfection.

As you can tell, I love Behind Iron Lace. It’s a wonderful story from start to finish with beautiful characters and a wonderful plot that is permanently on my re-read list. I don’t know if I can fully explain how much I love this book, and Caleb and Darcy. It is a definite must read from one of my go-to authors. I highly, highly recommend Behind Iron Lace by Mercy Celeste.

Note: This is the second edition of Behind Iron Lace. It has been re-edited and re-published by Total E-Bound.

Cover: I really like this beautiful cover by Posh Gosh with the old New Orleans style townhouse with an iron lace balcony in the background. The only thing that I wish was part of this cover is the tattoo that was so much a part of this story.

P.S. This book is currently only for sale on Total-E-Bound’s web site.  It will be available in wide release at other retailers on May 6th.

crissy sig