Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen: LGBTQ Noir Mystery

Lavender House, 1952: the family seat of recently deceased matriarch Irene Lamontaine, head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene’s recipes for her signature scents are a well guarded secret―but it’s not the only one behind these gates. This estate offers a unique freedom, where none of the residents or staff hide who they are. But to keep their secret, they’ve needed to keep others out. And now they’re worried they’re keeping a murderer in.

Irene’s widow hires Evander Mills to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death. Andy, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a raid on a gay bar, is happy to accept―his calendar is wide open. And his secret is the kind of secret the Lamontaines understand.

Andy had never imagined a world like Lavender House. He’s seduced by the safety and freedom found behind its gates, where a queer family lives honestly and openly. But that honesty doesn’t extend to everything, and he quickly finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy―and Irene’s death is only the beginning.

When your existence is a crime, everything you do is criminal, and the gates of Lavender House can’t lock out the real world forever. Running a soap empire can be a dirty business.

From the very beginning, I found this novel by Lev AC Rosen intriguing, especially with the LGBTQ noir mystery. I especially love that it’s set in the fifties. The period lends itself to mystery and also explores some of the difficult history of being gay during that time period. 

I love the characters, each one distinctive and how the main character, Evander, struggles with the world he is in, one in which he can’t be true to himself and has recently lost his job because of his sexuality. It explores his feelings of safety and powerlessness. 

As the mystery unfolds, the novel also explores found family and toxic, obsessive love, the type of love that prevents happiness. The mystery unfolds slowly but leaves cookie crumbs to allow the reader to solve the mystery along with the characters. The ending is wonderfully crafted.

If you love noir mystery and period pieces, you will love this LGBTQ Noir mystery. I love mysteries and this was well worth the read.

Rating: 5 out of 5 soaps

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