REVIEW: 'Living On Air' by Susan Mac Nicol

Title: Living On Air

Author: Susan Mac Nicol

Published: February 21, 2018

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance; Dark Erotic Romance

Length: 280 Pages

Tags: Gay; M/M; Comfort/Hurt; CW: Murder; CW: Off-Page - Child Abuse, Rape, Sexual Abuse

NOTE: See author’s notes for additional content warnings.


Cary Stilwell has been existing since he was ten years old, and each year it gets harder to find meaning in his bleak life. The only exception - his work. As a top-billed aerialist in a popular traveling circus, he enjoys accolades and applause, but little else. When notable photographer, Rhys McIntyre, joins the circus to catalogue its inner workings, Cary fights the attraction that hits him from the moment they meet. But a kind soul wrapped in a beautiful body has a way of battering all the walls Cary has built around his cold, dark heart.


Rhys McIntyre is on his third iteration of reinventing himself. Once a hotdog financier, he embraced his passion for photography and became an eminent war photo journalist. Until one too many bullets lodged in his body, and he gave up the front lines for the softer side of chronicling life. When he accepts the assignment to record life in a circus, the last thing he expects is to find the man crush of his dreams. Except Cary Stilwell is a cold, tortured man who seems incapable of any warm emotion, never mind love. But Rhys is known for his persistence, and this time the pay-off might be more than he could have ever imagined.

This book delves into subjects some people may find disturbing. There are elements of the main characters' pasts that include pedophilia, the dark side of religion, and the horrors of war. Aspects of the story include self-harm, depression, and suicide, and the book is set in a circus where clowns are featured.

None of these elements are gratuitous, but instead are included because they are part of the human condition, and are essential to our main characters' journeys. I hope you join Cary and Rhys as they navigate their way to love.



Living On Air is my first experience with the writing of Susan Mac Nicol and I’ve got to say, I’m hooked! Looking into this fascinating author just got me more intrigued and I can’t wait to discover more. This book is a winner, with amazing characters and a captivating story which flows so perfectly that I couldn’t put it down.

There are some tough subjects and intense emotions in Living On Air, though the overall mood is hopeful. As the main story progresses it is interspersed with light and intimate moments which kept me focused on a happy outcome for these characters.

One of the most enjoyable parts of Living On Air is the unique and colorful cast of characters. I love the way the circus folk interact, and all the subplots would make a novel I’d enjoy all on its own. Susan Mac Nicol’s descriptions of circus life are so vivid I could just imagine what life with this small, close-knit group of people would be like. As the story flows along and the characters reveal more about themselves we see so deeply into their hearts, which are flawed and complex and interesting.

As the main story progresses it is interspersed with light and intimate moments which kept me focused on a happy outcome for these characters.

Twenty-three years ago ten-year-old Christopher Spencer escaped a gruesome and horrific event and thankfully found a home with the Trazellas Circus. Assuming a new name, Cary Stilwell immerses himself in the therapeutic relief that “focusing on the silks” provides. Even though life in the circus is a diversion from his traumatic memories, the most effective way he’s found of coping is through self-harming.

Despite his fear of clowns, charming and vivacious photographer Rhys McIntyre is intrigued by the opportunity to chronicle circus life as his next assignment. Rhys has ghosts of his own, between his traumatic experiences as a photojournalist in war zones and the heartbreaking death of his lover, he welcomes this chance to surround himself with good things for awhile.

The attraction is palpable every time these two men interact, and even though Cary tries to push him away with his best acerbic persona, Rhys can’t resist Cary’s beauty and vows to heal his damaged soul.

There are some huge reveals and seeing Rhys ponder how it will affect Cary, and then seeing it all through Cary’s eyes…it’s just marvelous!

Rhys is so charming, between his adorable Scottish accent and mannerisms he gradually works his way into Cary’s life. When Cary’s desperate need for love wins out, he realizes if he wants a new life he must face his demons and make things right.

Susan Mac Nicol does a beautiful job with the alternating points-of-view in Living On Air. I love seeing each man experience the same event and how it affects them. There are some huge reveals and seeing Rhys ponder how it will affect Cary, and then seeing it all through Cary’s eyes…it’s just marvelous!

Living On Air is a beautiful and hopeful romance and well worth the emotional roller coaster this book will take you on. Rhys drawing Cary out of his shell and bringing him into the present, and Cary’s journey to face his demons just wrung me dry; and I can’t wait to let Susan Mac Nicol do it to me all over again.

A copy of Living On Air was provided to Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter, by Books Laid Bare, at no cost and with no expectations in return. We offer our fair and honest opinion on behalf of our readers.

Boroughs Publishing; Smashwords; Kobo; iBooks; Barnes & Noble; Amazon US; Amazon UK

Susan Mac Nicol is a self-confessed bookaholic, an avid watcher of videos of sexy pole dancing men, geek and nerd and in love with her Smartphone. This little treasure is called 'the boyfriend' by her long suffering husband, who says if it vibrated, there'd be no need for him. Susan hasn't had the heart to tell him there's an app for that...

She is never happier than when sitting in the confines of her living room/study/on a cold station platform scribbling down words and making two men fall in love. She is a romantic at heart and believes that everything happens (for the most part) for a reason. She likes to think of herself as a 'half full' kinda gal, although sometimes that philosophy is sorely tested.

In an ideal world, Susan Mac Nicol would be Queen of England and banish all the bad people to the Never Never Lands of Wherever -Who Cares. As that's never going to happen, she contents herself with writing her HEA stories and pretending, that just for a little while, good things happen to good people.

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For more from Susan be sure and visit her website!

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