Collusion - Eden WintersTitle: Collusion
Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 70,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Sequel, Pharmacy, Hospitals, Kids with Cancer, Partners, Drug shortages, Grey Markets, Profiteering, PTSD, ex-Military, Drugs, Addiction, Undercover, Cops/Crime, Mystery
Rating: Really Like It!

Reviewed by Sadonna

Note:  This is the second in a series.  As such, there are spoilers for the first story in this book.  It is not recommended that these books be read out of sequence.

BLURB

Dead men can’t love.

Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter “died” in the line of duty while working off a ten-year sentence in service to the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, only to be reborn as Simon “Lucky” Harrison. The newbie he trained, former Marine Bo Schollenberger, is now his partner on (and maybe off) the job. It’s hard to tell when Lucky doesn’t understand relationships or have a clue what any sane human is doing in his bed. Bo’s nice to have around, sure, but there’s none of that picking-out-china-together crap for Lucky.

While fighting PTSD, memories of a horrid childhood, and a prescription drug addiction, Bo is paying for his mistakes. Using his pharmacy license for the good guys provides the sort of education he never got in school. Undercover with his hard-headed partner, Bo learns that not everything is as it seems in the world of pharmaceuticals.

When a prescription drug shortage jeopardizes the patients at Rosario Children’s Cancer Center, it not only pits Bo and Lucky against predatory opportunists, but also each other. How can they tell who the villains are? The bad guys don’t wear black hats, but they might wear white coats.

REVIEW

This is definitely a sequel that lives up to the first book.  If you haven’t read Diversion yet, go and get it right away.  These are really good books!

Lucky is “reincarnated” in this story after his untimely demise in the first story.  He and Bo, his partner, have both been on assignment separately and are finally back in town together.  Lucky is trying to figure out what the deal is between the two of them – he’s never been in a “relationship” before and he has no idea what he’s doing but he does know that his thoughts are scaring him a little bit.  Their time together at home is short-lived however and they are once again partnered on a new assignment at a children’s cancer hospital. Lucky is assigned to shipping and receiving and Bo is assigned to Procurement as an assistant buyer.  They are trying to find out what is happening with the drug shortages and where the drugs are coming from and how they are being funneled to the hospital in the “grey market”  – not quite illegal but pretty unethical with gouging of prices.  Critical drugs are in short supply and so hospitals and doctors are having to decide on less effective courses of treatment or rationing of the available drugs.

As soon as they get to the hospital, Bo is involved in some heart-wrenching meetings.  Kids are not getting the treatment they need because of the drug shortages.  Bo is killing himself trying to help and trying to locate drugs.  He’s even working to try to make the drugs since he still has his pharmacist license.  It’s a bloody mess and things are only getting worse.  Lucky tries to keep him from getting too emotionally involved which makes Bo very angry with him. Little does he know just how emotionally involved Lucky has gotten as well.

When the head buyer is fired, Bo becomes the target of disgruntled parents and the press.  Lucky calls in the cavalry and it turns out that Lucky’s distrust and his instincts are right on again.  The drug shortage has led to all sorts of characters acting in unforeseen ways that leads to catastrophic results.  As they get closer and closer to finding out who is responsible for tainted drugs being administered, Lucky once again finds himself in danger and in only true Lucky fashion.

After sources are uncovered and a number of the culprits escape the long arm of the law, Lucky can’t live with waiting around to see if they will surface.  Acting on his own he’s willing to take risks to finish his job.  I don’t want to be too spoilery but there is a lot of action in this story and a lot of different twists and turns.  Lucky does a lot of soul searching in this one and he also realizes something about his feeling and Bo 🙂

I really really liked this story!  Once again, I learned a lot reading from Eden about the grey markets and what happens when drugs are in short supply.  Fascinating and scary details are woven into this narrative that should give patients and health care professionals pause.  I had no idea this was going on!  Besides learning a lot about something I was surprised was happening, I really loved spending time with Bo and Lucky again.  I find Lucky to be a lovable curmudgeonly character and I always look forward to seeing what he’ll do next.  Predictable is NOT in his vocabulary.  I really liked seeing him crack open the clam shell of his heart in this one.  He and Bo have both been through a lot and while Bo doesn’t necessarily always agree with Lucky he does try to understand him.  Even when he’s mad at Lucky, he know that when the chips are down Lucky will be there for him.  They make a great couple and I cannot wait for the next book to see where their new adventures will take us.