Title: Under the Waterfall (Have Body, Will Guard #5)
Author: Neil Plakcy
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 80,618 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Action/Adventure, Bodyguards, Existing Relationship, ex-Military, Teachers, Coming Out/Closeted, Abduction/Kidnapping, France, Corsica, Family/Kids, Multiple Romances, Expat
Rating: Pretty Good
As soon as they’re settled in their new home on the French Riviera, bodyguards Aidan and Liam are sent to the island of Corsica to protect a mining executive and his family. Though they’re still in love, and having lots of sex, the disruption, and the discovery that the client’s son is gay and in a touchy relationship, causes both bodyguards to question their skills and their commitment to each other. Can they engineer a happy ending for Michel and his boyfriend, while protecting the family from deadly adversaries?
What a wonderful surprise for me to find another Aidan and Liam book out! For some reason, I thought that after book four, Olives for the Stranger that the series was finished, so getting a new book and the possibility of even more after this (it sure seems like it) makes me so happy! Liam and Aidan are a couple that I’ve kept with since I read their first book Three Wrong Turns in the Desert several years ago. Each book is heavy on action/adventure and a serious dose of hot and heavy macho action. How could I not fall in love? Besides, I’ve always been drawn to Mr. Plakcy’s work. I really enjoy his style.
The fifth installment in this series diverges from the rest right at the start. Though we know Liam and Aiden well in Tunisia where they met and have previously worked as bodyguards, they moved at the end of the fourth book to France and are now living in Nice. Both of them think that they moved to primarily make the other happy, but the truth is that having less freedom is somewhat constricting to them both, because Liam doesn’t always like being told what to do and because Aidan usually does what he can to defer to his more senior partner and lover and because he generally ends up trying to please him anyway. This results in it’s own set of complications and when Liam and Aidan take on a new case in Corsica protecting a mine owner’s family from threats by Corsican nationalists to preserve the island from drilling, they both spend much of their time there working through their own issues about their relationship. Aidan wonders if he’s doomed to play the doormat when once again Liam takes the active role in their operation and Aidan feels that he’s undervalued. Liam is forced to confront his past when they find that the son in the family they’re protecting, Michel, is in the closet and secretly in love with his father’s biggest adversary’s son. It might be a classic star-crossed lovers tale with a bent twist, but the interactions between scared, closeted and teenaged Michel and his blithely criticizing father force him to confront his own feelings about his past and his development into his only real relationship — with Aidan. Liam has never considered himself as any kind of commodity, until recently mostly avoiding his sexuality except in the basest of situations, but their friend Louis makes a comment that shows him he just might be attractive to other men. That leads him to consider his relationship with Aidan and his feelings about sleeping with other men.
Their main issue in Corsica, nonetheless, is keeping their client’s safe, not angsting about the issues in their relationship.
This book (like the last one) was both an enjoyment to read and a bit of a disappointment. The pure adventure and excitement that I’m used to from the earlier plots in this series seem to have gone away. On the other hand, I think that Plakcy, better than most writers in the m/m romance genre anyway, seem to have a real knack for writing about the issues that crop up in long lasting relationships. They’re the everyday issues — communication, self-esteem in relationship to your partner, jealousy — and they’re handled responsibly. Sure they might cause a bit of angst, but I like the format of this series because the external adventure/mystery plot takes some of the focus away. The plot doesn’t need to be built on those internal relationship issues to carry the story, so those real-to-life relationship issues seem to carry the modest weight that is natural. Of course they’re important but they aren’t life or death issues that need to much focus. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy a classic relationship-centric contemporary romance, but Aidan and Liam feel more real to me because while I might have to occasionally suspend disbelief at their gun-toting, crime-solving antics, the relationship at the center is down to earth and totally believable.
I remain a fan of this series. I probably always will be. But, I think I might need to shift my expectation of the future books. From here on, I’m going to look forward more to the relationship than the external plot. It might bring me some enjoyment, but so far the last few just haven’t been nearly as satisfying as the first ones. I will say that I found Liam and Aidan’s physical relationship in this book somewhat disappointing. I’m not sure why the author didn’t include much sex (hardly any!). One of the draws to this series for me has been the hot and heavy sex between these two men. Maybe the author is trying to shift the overall arc in another direction? Or, perhaps, the plot in this book just didn’t fit with the two getting hot and heavy. But I sure hope that when these two come back for book six that they’ll be getting it on in all kinds of weird places like they used to!
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 76-100k, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Action/Adventure, Bodyguards, Closeted, Coming Out, Corsica, Ex-Military, Existing Relationship, Expat, Family, France, Have Body Will Guard, Kidnapping/Abduction, Kids, Loose Id, Multiple Romances, Neil Plakcy, Series, Teachers
Author: AJ Rose
Publisher: Voodoo Lilly Press
Length: 110,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sexy to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Sequel, Cops, Psychologists, PTSD, Serial Killer, Family, Child Abduction & Abuse, Obsession, Paparazzi!, HEA
Rating: Loved It!
Reviewed by Sadonna
This is a sequel to Power Exchange and as such contains quite a few spoilers for that book. It is NOT recommended to read these books out of sequence.
Everywhere Detective Gavin DeGrassi looks he’s reminded of his attack by the Breath Play Killer. It’s in the house he lives in with his partner and Dom, Ben Haverson. It’s in the sympathetic yet pitying looks he receives from his fellow detectives when he returns to the force after a year-long hiatus. It’s in the suffocating coddling of his entire family, and the relentless reporter demanding an exclusive of his ordeal.
Most of all, it’s in his lack of submission to Ben, who isn’t convinced Gavin’s recovered enough to trust the power exchange between them.
The miraculous recovery of two teen boys from a twisted kidnapper gives him heart, and Gavin’s determined to prove he can handle anything despite increasing strain between him and Ben, painful nightmares, and panic when anyone touches him.
But his next case is too close for comfort: a friend and colleague found raped and murdered in a fate chillingly similar to what could have been his own, and this killer isn’t stopping with one cop. As the body count rises and taunting souvenirs are being hand-delivered to Gavin, he faces a frustrating lack of leads, a crushing need to prove himself, and a sinking suspicion the imprisoned kidnapper’s reach is further than originally thought. A miasma of uncertainty and fear threaten to suffocate him when he asks a question with which he’s overwhelmingly familiar: what happens when a victim is pushed too far?
Safeword begins about a year after the events of Power Exchange. Gavin and Ben are still together and Gavin has just returned to work after a year’s disability leave. He’s been through intensive therapy with Ben’s partner Laura and he and Ben are also seeing her as a couple. Things seem to be going OK with his return to work and his partner, Myah, who is now engaged to his brother Cole. While Gavin is still dealing with some residual anxiety, he is able to work effectively even when his first case back turns out to be the murder of a fellow police officer. And it’s not just any officer, but a colleague of Gavin and Myah’s who broke a big case involving two abducted teens and the man who was holding them hostage – one for a number of years. This case may or may not be related to his murder.
As Gavin and Myah are investigating the case, there doesn’t seem to be any real motive or potential suspects but Gavin can’t help feeling there is some connection between the murder and the victim’s last big case. While there are no real leads in the case, another cop is murdered and there are some potentially disturbing similarities between the murders and some coincidences that can’t be ignored. This of course brings more stress to Myah and particularly Gavin who is still dealing with his own recovery and anxiety. The other annoying issue is the reappearance of Gavin’s former partner Trent, who it turns out is still with Gavin’s ex-wife. Trent has done nothing but bad-mouth Gavin since he was run out of their precinct after being caught in bed with Victoria, Gavin’s ex. He’s a complete pain in the ass, but it turns out that he has a really disgusting skeleton in his closet that he doesn’t want public, so he tows the line – at least being civil. And only for a little while.
Things have not gotten back to normal between Ben and Gavin in their sex life and while they haven’t given up getting back to their Dom/Sub relationship, things are moving much more slowly than Gavin would like. However, Ben is unwilling to risk Gavin’s psyche any more than it already has been compromised. They are continuing to work on their relationship and Gavin’s limits, but he has to push Ben to get any forward movement. This is further complicated by a third cop murder and the murderer’s fixation on Gavin. Regardless of what precautions Gavin and Ben and the force take to protect him, there continue to be breaches in Gavin’s security. Needless to say, Gavin once again being in the crosshairs of a killer takes a toll on him and Ben.
If you read my review of the previous book, Power Exchange, you know that I was somewhat disappointed in the mystery and particularly with the resolution of the case and the identification of the murderer. No such complaints with this book. The murder mystery is really well done with some surprising twists and turns and some good police work by Gavin and Myah along with another nail biter of a climax. There are plenty of villains to hate in this one and some pretty good payback as well, which really did give me some perverse satisfaction unlike the end of the first book 😉
The other central story of this book is the ongoing love story of Gavin and Ben. I though the first book was incredible in describing the progression of their relationship. It was incredibly intimate and intense and hot and so well written. This part of the story in this book does not have that same level of intensity, but it is still really well written and very intimate. Ben and Gavin are still trying to find their way back to themselves and each other in the aftermath of their ordeal in Power Exchange. They are working through all of the issues together and they are incredibly committed to making things better and getting back to where they were before. There are some really hard moments for them in this story but the one fundamental factor that prevails over everything else is their love for each other and what they are willing to do to fight for that love.
I really loved this book – so much so that I went back and reread Power Exchange again because I couldn’t get enough of Gavin and Ben. I don’t know if A.J. Rose is planning to write more about these two, but I’d definitely read it!
Posted by Sadonna in 101-125k, 6 LOVE IT!, Authors P-R, BDSM / Kink, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: AJ Rose, Child Abuse, Cops, Family, HEA, Kidnapping/Abduction, Paparazzi!, Power Exchange, Psychologist, PTSD, Sequel, Serial Killer, Series, Voodoo Lily Press
Author: Annmarie McKenna
Length: 30,500 words, 113 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance Mystery
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Cops, Injury, Assassination Attempts, Memory Loss, Recovery, Insta-love, Kittens!, HFN
Rating: So So
Reviewed by Sadonna
There’s more than one way to guard a body.
In the year since his car flew off a cliff, Detective Brennan McGuire has struggled to relearn the simplest tasks—like speaking without a stutter—and even more with trying to fill the gaping holes in his memory.
But when his daily visit to a local coffee shop turns into a melee of flying bullets, Brennan’s instincts take control.
So much for Keegan Monroe’s first day off after a long undercover assignment. One minute he’s relaxing over coffee, the next his cheek is kissing concrete. Question is, is the gorgeous man on top of him his savior, or the one who took a potshot at his head?
As Keegan shepherds the too-quiet, too-skinny Brennan through the investigation, attraction flares into nights of white-hot passion. But with each scorching encounter, more and more of Brennan’s memories shake loose…and it becomes clear someone doesn’t want him putting those pieces together.
With Keegan’s oath to protect and serve putting him squarely in the crosshairs of a murderer, now the question is, who is protecting whom?
The blurb for this story pretty much tells it all and gives away the twist to the plot. Brennan has suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of a car accident that he can’t remember. He was a police officer before the injury, but now he can barely order a drink and pay for it at the local coffee shop. While on his daily therapy exercise, he spies a shooter and lunges at the hot guy he thinks is about to get shot and in doing so, becomes a suspect. Somehow the police take forever to figure out that something is wrong with him (duh). Once they realize that he was an officer and that he is still recovering from the accident, they STILL think he might be involved.
Keegan begins to doubt that Brennan is involved and has him review mugshots in an attempt to identify the shooter. Keegan is convinced that this somehow has to do with the case he has just completed. As the investigation continues and he witnesses Brennan’s flashes of memory, he begins to suspect that something else is going on. During the second day of the investigation we meet Brennan’s aunt – who is a hoot – maybe my second favorite character in this story 🙂
Brennan and Keegan are definitely attracted and even though he kind of feels like maybe he’s taking advantage, Keegan just can’t seem to keep his hands off. Amazingly during sex, Brennan doesn’t even stutter and seems sure of himself and what he wants. Brennan’s old instincts seem to be surfacing more and more as the case continues which is a good thing for both of them. Keegan liked the Brennan he sees and wants to help him remember what happened and not just because he’s trying to figure out what’s going on with the assassination attempts.
I really wanted to like this book so much more! The blurb was intriguing and I liked both MCs – especially Brennan. The problem for me was the rushed, compressed time frame of this story – it’s literally two and a half days and the MCs are saying “I love you.” Also, I knew from the blurb and the story pretty much what was going to be the outcome and who the bad guy was. I hate when that happens! This would have been a much better story if it had been about three times the word count and we got a fully fleshed out relationship built between the MCs. Instead they spend one day together and they are “in love.” Not saying it can’t happen, but it’s just not that satisfying. I’ve read other books by this author and really liked them and there is nothing inherently wrong with this one. I just needed more relationship development to feel like I got the whole story.
Posted by Sadonna in 16-40k, 3 So So, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Amnesia, Animals, Annmarie McKenna, Cops, HFN, Insta-Love, Physical Injury/Trauma, Samhain Publishing
Title: Attachment Strings (A Jeff Woods Mystery, #1)
Author: Chris T. Kat
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 69k+ words, 244 pages
Genre: m/m, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Alpha Men, Closeted, Cops, OFY, Kids, Physical Disabilities/Trauma, Physical Injury/Trauma
Rating: Really Liked It!!
Reviewed by Nikyta
Detective Jeff Woods and his partner have a new case. Someone has been making threatening phone calls to the mayor’s daughter, vowing to kill her disabled child. Though there have been accidents at the girl’s school—enough to take the threats seriously—the facts are few, and leads are sparse.
Needing a breather from the burden of the case, Jeff heads to a bar, where he meets Alex Fisher. Alex isn’t his type, but he’s young and cocky and perfect for a one-night stand. Or two. Soon Jeff starts thinking about how difficult and lonely it is being a cop, and that maybe Alex could fill a void in his life. But Alex has his own obligations: a disabled brother who is the target of threatening letters.
Jeff isn’t sure he’s ready to play house or overcome his prejudices, but he begins to think Alex might be worth it. Caught between his growing affection and his inner demons, Jeff struggles to focus on the case and protect Alex and his brother as the danger builds.
First, I just want to say that I love this cover! It’s what caught my eye at first and then I realized it was by Ms. Kat and I knew I had to have it right away and I’m so glad I read it!
Blowing off some steam after one of his cases goes unsolved, Jeff meets Alex, who’s as far from his type as he can get. No matter his rejections, Alex won’t take no for an answer and it isn’t long before these two are jumping into bed for a one-night stand. Except now Jeff can’t get Alex out of his mind and finding it harder and harder to deny he wants to see Alex again and with a little push, he does just that but things don’t exactly go as he planned. When the mayor’s daughter starts receiving threatening letters toward her disabled daughter, Jeff starts looking into other disabled kids and before long, Alex, and his brother Sean, fall right into the middle of Jeff’s investigation. Jeff wants Alex but with his prejudices, he can’t handle Sean, who he considers Alex’s ‘appendage’. It’s a rollercoaster ride for these two while Jeff tries to not only solve the mystery of the threats but to also work through his feelings and decide if Alex is worth all the effort.
At first, Jeff is one hell of a jerk. Most readers will definitely be turned off by him but my best advice is to just stick with it. He changes but it’s a hard, long process and he messes up during that journey. Jeff is aggressive, demanding and very stubborn and he’s this way to man, child or woman. His physical appearance is just as intimidating as his personality but he’s also judgmental and prejudiced to the point of heartbreaking. I loved that he was so unlikeable because that actually made him more likeable. I didn’t like his reactions to the disabled kids, in fact, his disgust towards them broke my heart. At the same time, I loved the struggle within him, the growth he achieves from his initial dislike to his grudging acceptance. Alex is the complete opposite in that he’s compassionate, gentle towards Sean and lovable. He’s stubborn and pushy but underneath it all he’s vulnerable and just wants someone to take care of him for once. Jeff gives him that opportunity and, if anything, I loved the relationship these two have because Jeff always knew the right moments to be tender and gentle. It starts off purely sexual but the situation they’re put into speeds along their feelings to something I really enjoyed.
While this book focuses on the mystery of whether threatening letters and injures to numerous disabled children is serious or not, it’s also very centered on the change Jeff goes through. From his views that he doesn’t want a relationship to developing feelings for Alex, who is in no way Jeff’s type but also how Jeff’s views on Sean – his disgust, how uncomfortable he is around him, and whether it’s even worth the effort to try – changes. You see a man who is essentially a brute slowly changing into a guy who wants to care for two of the most vulnerable people ever. It’s sweet but also heartbreaking and while the villain was easy for me to spot, the execution of how the author handled Jeff and his prejudices, as well as, his relationship with Alex and Sean, more than made up for it, IMO. That’s not to say the mystery was lacking, in fact, I really enjoyed it and liked that I was taken so deep into the investigation.
My biggest issue with this story was the ending. I take that back, the ending was actually really great, one that had my heart racing with me on the edge of my seat and I adored it wholeheartedly, but I wish more than anything Ms. Kat would embrace more epilogues because I felt like there needed to be more of a conclusion for after the fact. More than anything, I desperately wish there had been something to inform us on what happens next not just for Jeff and his job but for Sean, the school and ultimately Alex but also what’s next for Alex and Jeff, how this new development affects them. Beyond that, I think Alex could have been a bit more fleshed out because by the end, I realized I loved him to pieces but I didn’t really know him as a character either. Granted, this is the start to a new series so I’m probably just being very impatient right now.
Overall, I adored this book. It has its faults but what book doesn’t? I loved the conflicts that Jeff goes through when it comes to Alex and Sean but I also liked the mystery even if it was a tad predictable. The story is heartbreaking at times, funny at others and adorable everywhere else. I loved these characters and especially loved Sean. More than that, I have to say that Parker, Jeff’s partner, was a spitfire that I could never get a read on but found highly amusing. I’m glad this is a start to a new series because I can’t wait to read more about Jeff, Alex and Sean and to hopefully get some areas tied up better. As it is, this was a great story and I hope others are willing to give it a try and enjoy it as much as I did!
Posted by Nikyta in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors J-L, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: a Jeff Woods Mystery, Alpha Men, Chris T Kat, Closeted, Cops, Dreamspinner Press, GFY/OFY, Kids, Physical Disabilities/Trauma, Physical Injury/Trauma, Series
Title: Dead in L.A. (L.A. Paranormal #1-2)
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Self Published (Harper Books)
Length: 28k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Psychics, Past Trauma, Roommates, Friends with Benefits, College, Art, Grieving Character, LA, Secrets and Lies, Guilt, Opposites Attract
Rating: Really Liked It
Trouble comes in deceptive packages
Still recovering from an accident that left him emotionally and physically battered, Jon’s goal is to lead a simple life, free of complications and attachments. His new roommate—a happy-go-lucky bookworm—seems to fit into his plans fine at first. He doesn’t find out till later that Leander’s also a psychic, specializing in finding lost pets. Jon’s a skeptic when it comes to the supernatural, so he’s convinced Leander’s a nut job.
Jon’s beliefs are challenged when Leander has to track down a missing teenager and he ropes Jon into assisting him. Soon the two of them are knee-deep in a decades-old murder case. The hills and valleys of the City of Angels hold many buried secrets, and Leander has a knack for finding them.
Jon’s hopes for a trouble-free life go out the window as he’s drawn deeper into Leander’s psychic sleuthing. Digging into the past poses many dangers, but the biggest risk Jon faces is putting his bruised heart on the line.
Warning: Men loving men, skeletons, and an unlucky Chihuahua.
Dead in LA is the book that shows just how economical Lou Harper’s writing is. It surprises me even now to write that this book of two stories is only 28k words simply because my memory from reading it is how full of plot and detail it was. Of course it depends on your style and preferences, but I always admire an author who can get their word across without a whole lot of words — I’m the exact opposite! As you might have noticed and indeed bemoaned from my incredibly wordy reviews 🙂
Both of these stories, “Dead in the Hills” and “Dead in the Valley” focus on a separate mystery while the overall arc of the story that connects them is the building relationship between Jon and Leander, two completely fascinating characters! I say that because at this point (after reading the first two stories and waiting for the rest to come) I still feel them on incredibly shaky ground, no matter how far they’ve come from their beginnings as roommates in “Dead in the Hills”. And they, in so many ways, are an opposites attract story, not in a sortof comically stereotypical way (like… the twink and the cop or something) but simply because when I first started reading this book I thought… wait, is Leander really going to become Jon’s romantic interest? I just couldn’t see it. It wasn’t until after they were firmly established as friends with benefits (or roommates with benefits) that they both really started to open up for me as characters and I could see past their superficialities. Jon is an art student, but of course in a completely responsible way (art advertising) that he might not have ever really gone in to anyway, and Leander is a psychic who finds things that people have lost. Now, sometimes those are puppies (like the “unlucky Chihuahua” LOL) and sometimes those are missing people. Jon has a hard time at first believing in what Leander does until he offers his roommate a ride to a job and sees it for himself, not only the accuracy of Leander’s visions but what it also does to him. His ultimate understanding of Leander’s job is what slowly softens him to Leander’s charms, even through all of the trauma and guilt that Jon still has after his wife’s death.
Dead in LA was probably one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year, and in some ways that’s because of the mysteries and in others the relationship. The relationship is also what makes this book like a really early part of a series. Of course, these are the first two stories in this series, but what I mean is that by the end of both there’s still a great deal of uncertainty about their relationship and a lot they’ll need to work through. Both of these stories, for me, were really about getting to know the characters individually and that makes me even more excited for the coming ones, because I get to see more about where their relationship will progress.
This book also shows how well the episodic mystery format is working for Lou. Making the mysteries somewhat shorter allows for more possible directions for the story to go because we, as readers, aren’t completely committed to a long mystery plot while the characters are growing with their relationship. That is what makes the next stories in this series exciting to me.
Also, a note about the cover, which I really love. Lou mentioned that it doesn’t really scream romance (which is true) but that it does really highlight that these are mysteries. That works well for me with these two stories — the cover seems aligned with how I feel about them in any way — but also, I think that the lack of a naked torso makes your book stand out in new ways these days, when I feel like most others I’ve heard from… we’re just tired of those covers.
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Artists, California, College, Episodic, Friends with Benefits, Grieving Partner, Guilt, LA, LA Paranormal, Lou Harper, Lou Harper Week!, Opposites Attract, Past Trauma, Psychic, Roommates, Secrets & Lies, Self Published, Series
Title: In Hot Pursuit
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 59,095 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Cops, Closeted, Action/Adventure, On Vacation, Crime/Mob, Kidnapping, Drugs, Grieving Partner, Florida, NYC, Awesome Female Characters!
Rating: Pretty Good
Hard-working NYPD cop Noah Tobin didn’t even want to go on vacation. But it’s been a tough eighteen months since the death of his lover, so he’s determined to make the most of it. On his first night in sunny Florida, a chance encounter with a handsome man in a bar bathroom jumpstarts something in Noah that’s been dormant for all those months. Then the man disappears.
Noah’s vacation is thrown into upheaval because he can’t just let it go when he learns that the mysterious man who turned his life upside down went missing. He volunteers to help with the manhunt for his mystery man, a wealthy restaurateur named Harrison Knowles. But finding Harry is only the beginning of Noah’s hot pursuit.
If I’m correct, this book is Kate McMurray’s first published novel. At least, from her Goodreads info and a quick look. It does list her short “In December My Heart’s Full of Spring” as being released first but, as it is available now for free, I’m not sure if it was ever published or not. Anyway, the whole reason for that is that I always find it rather interesting to go back and read an author’s first published book when they’re more well established. Sometimes you find that you hate it and you don’t really understand how an author ever turned their writing around, and sometimes you find that the quality was always there. I think I found this somewhere in between, which is the best place for it now in retrospect, if you ask me. It means that at least in my opinion, Kate’s writing has gotten better and her stories more interesting and dynamic with practice, showing growth and not a plateau in talent.
So, naturally, that means that while I liked this book and found it an engaging read it didn’t really wow me. But, in knowing that I was going back to read an author’s first book, an author I find myself quite fond of, an interesting thing happened. I biased my own expectations and ended up liking the book more than I thought I would. It’s a bit like when I finally ended up watching the Sixth Sense and thought, huh? I had heard too many praises. Only the opposite was what happened here. And that’s a good thing to happen for me, as the reader 🙂
In part, this is a mystery and a contemporary romance, those two things here being somewhat different. The framework of the story is wrapped up in the mystery, how just after NYPD cop Noah meets a cute guy named Harry in a bar while on vacation in Florida, he sees on the news that Harry has gone missing and is pulled into the investigation as the last man who saw him. But the filling in between that framework is much like a contemporary romance. When Harry comes stumbling out of the forest beat up and running from his captors, the two are reintroduced and Noah is set to bodyguard duty until they can figure out just who was wanting to kill Harry and why. That’s the real meat of the story.
And honestly, I found myself wishing that there were a bit more synergy between those two elements. The story easily moves between action, with the two dodging a hail of bullets to quiet downtime in their safe room at a resort getting to know each other and Noah slowly opening up about his past traumas. The problem for me was that at times these two things seemed to get a bit out of proportion, with those moments together taking precedent and leaving the mystery behind to pick up later. And the problem there is that the story, at times, seemed to lose momentum.
In all, this was a really fun book to read. It’s mostly light and easy to read, but the action kicks it up a notch to make it more exciting. And it’s easily satisfying, ending in a solid, feel-good HEA. It’s not a bad book to take with you on vacation, which I suppose is apropos 😉 And at the very least, if you find yourself a fan of Kate McMurray and having not yet read this book, then it’s always interesting to go back and see where an author started.
Kate’s new book, Save the Date, is out tomorrow along with my review!
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Action/Adventure, Awesome Female Characters, Closeted, Cops, Cops/Crime, Drugs, Florida, Grieving Partner, Kate McMurray, Kate McMurray Week!, Kidnapping/Abduction, Loose Id, NYC, On Vacation, The Mob