4.5 Drops #Review: A Barlow Lens by Elizabeth Noble & #GuestPost

Title: A Barlow Lens
Author: Elizabeth Noble 
Series: Circles Series, #2
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M, Contemporary, Mystery/suspense, Romance
Release Date: January 14th, 2015
Length: 152 pages 
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While planning a future with his partner, Val, Wyatt’s past refuses to be forgotten. Wyatt’s old friend asks him to look into the mysterious death of her uncle in a fire back in 1927, when men were silent, tough, and did not love other men—except when they did. Working with Val, Wyatt digs up clues uncovering the truth behind the tragic school fire and the one responsible. The story of Tom and Philip slowly reveals itself, and Wyatt and Val realize nothing is as simple as they originally believed. As their trail heats up, an old enemy of Wyatt’s decides he’s waited long enough for revenge. If Wyatt can’t tie everything together, history might repeat itself.

Guest Post

That age old question: Which comes first, plot or character?

That’s a question I’m often asked along with the more general, how do you write a book?

I think all writers of any sort would agree, the way to write a book is to sit down and put words on a page, be it paper or computer monitor.

When I begin a new book, or series there are certain rituals I go through. I never really realized I had a set of rituals until I sat and thought about it. Looking back I’ve done this since waaaay back, before I was published, before the fanfic, I’ve done this since I was a little girl.

I’ve always been a storyteller. When I was little if you asked me where the milk belonged I’d spin you a story about how it got there and where it should go and what it should do. No, really I would.

So, I would have to say right from the start I’ve been a plot first sort of writer.

An idea comes to me. More often than not it’s more like getting sideswiped by a semi-truck. Idea hits me upside the head—kaaa bammm. If the idea is for an existing series, or uses characters I’ve written before in some way I begin writing possible scenarios, or bits of scenes. Those are very simple, barely out of the outline stage and looks like this:

Character A does this and Character B goes here then Situation 1 happens.

I start an OneNote note book for my new book and one of the pages is all these little tidbits of scenes and ideas.

If the idea that’s just assaulted me is for something new I still start an OneNote note book. With these I’m more likely to fill a few pages with ideas of what sort of characters I want, what I want them to do and any necessary research links. When all that is done I begin developing and fleshing out characters.

This is what I do with the Circles series. I had the basic idea of a series of mystery/suspense/crime novels with a different set of main characters in each book. To connect the books at least one of the supporting characters becomes a main character in the next book. Each book features a different branch of law enforcement. I’d love requests if readers would like to see a particular branch in one of the books.

If my OneNote virtual notebook on the Circles series was real it would probably weigh about fifty pounds! There is a general research page filled with links and plot ideas for each book.

By the time I get to characters I know quite a bit about how each person in the book should be. That’s when I sit down and start letting the characters talk to me. If find that with a solid plot idea the characters just hop in and populate a book.

In A Barlow Lens there are two sets of main characters. The contemporary men, Val and Wyatt are planning their wedding when they’re asked to consult on a cold-case crime. Wyatt has experience with Homeland Security. They uncover the story of two men from 1927, Tom and Philip. Philip is a street cop in Cleveland, Ohio. The case is solved and with some previously unknown facts coming to light. In keeping with the theme of the series A Barlow Lens tells a story that intertwines the lives of two couples and how discovering events of the past helps those in their lives in the present.

I’m a fan of Elizabeth Noble’s work, and this newest story is no different. Well, it is, the Circles Series is a far cry from her Sentries series (where I first fell in love with Ms. Noble’s writings) but it’s the same quality and depth that I’ve come to expect from this author. In A Barlow Lens we have not one great story, but two really. Val and Wyatt and Tom and Philip. One tragic, one not, hopefully. I don’t want to go in-depth for this review as it’s such a great ride as you hunt for clues and root for love. What I will say is that it’s another gem from Elizabeth Noble and a true delight to read. If you haven’t read Run for the Roses, do so first! But don’t let a little thing like not having read her before stop you. You’ll miss out, if you do.


TOM MANNING stopped just inside the heavy, wooden door and stomped the snow from his boots. He shrugged out of his overcoat and waited for his eyes to adjust to the lower lighting. A shiver worked its way down his spine. There was a fire, the room was warm, but it still took his body a few minutes to acclimate to the temperature without his coat. He turned to the right where one of the large coatracks stood next to the door and added his coat to the ones already there. Taking his hat off, he shook snow from the fabric and wiped one hand over his hair. He gave his head a little shake to clear off any excess snowflakes.

A radio in one corner provided music. Despite its scratchy reception, there were a few couples swaying on the dance floor. Tom had become a regular in this particular juice joint, even though it was far enough from his small apartment in the West Park section of Cleveland that it took planning and a little time to get there. That was just fine by Tom. It made the Canary, this joint’s name, safer. Most cops wouldn’t bother coming this far north and west, and if they did, there’d be plenty of warning. At least Tom hoped so.

The first few times he’d come there, he had worried about who might see him. Then he realized that if someone saw him, they’d come to the Canary for the same reason. This particular speakeasy catered to a select and secretive group of men and women.

Tom slid onto a stool and smiled when the bartender sashayed over with a plate of sandwiches thick with meat and cheese on freshly baked bread.

“We got a new shipment in this week. Care to give it a try, honey?” The bartender, Billy, flipped a towel over his shoulder and put his hand over Tom’s for an instant. He tipped his head at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s been asking after you. I’ll get you two of what he’s having.”

“Appreciate it,” Tom said. He twisted on the stool to get a better look at the man at the table. The man had dark hair and was built like a bull. His big hands cradled the glass of bootleg, and that sent a spark coursing right through Tom to his balls. Beefy hands that handled a glass gently. What would they do to Tom’s flesh?

Thanks to Billy and his need to be in everyone’s business, Tom might just find out.


Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.

Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess named Rosie, and two cats, Murphy and Yeti. She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening, winter and summer sports (go Tribe!). When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.

Two of Elizabeth’s books have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards.

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