on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Tag Archives: Cops/Crime

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.


LoveLikeWaterLGTitle: Love, Like Water
Author: Rowan Speedwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 89,037 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Western Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Cowboys, New Mexico, Albuquerque, Homophobia, Cops (FBI), Gangs, Past Abuse/Trauma, Substance Abuse/Addiction, Guilt, Closeted, Coming Out, Animals, Suicide
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Three years undercover with one of the worst gangs in the country left FBI agent Joshua Chastain shattered. Battling nightmares and addiction, he leaves the concrete jungle for New Mexico horse country, hoping to start over on his uncle’s ranch.

Foreman Eli Kelly spends his life rehabilitating abused animals, and Joshua is just another lost soul. But as Joshua slowly begins to put his life back together, Eli realizes that Joshua is a lot more than his newest project.

Joshua’s plan seems to work—maybe a fresh start was just what he needed. Then, just when he has finally found a sense of peace, crime and hatred nearly destroy all his hard work, forcing him to reevaluate what he wants out his relationship with Eli and his own life.

REVIEW

I’ve been so excited for the release of this book! It’s been a long time since I read something by this author. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read a novel by this author since I read Finding Zach, a book which remains one of my all-time favorite m/m romances. So I knew going into this book from the blurb and from loving that book that this would most likely be an intense read. In some ways it was, but less so than I think I was expecting. But, it did live up to my expectations and ended up being a good read.

Joshua Chastain is a shade of the man he once was — a strong, confident, healthy and intelligent undercover FBI agent. Those qualities were all taken away from him during his three year undercover mission infiltrating a ruthless and dangerous gang in Chicago that heavily trafficked heroin. And though he did everything he was put there to do — bring down the operation from the inside — he also did other things, made sacrifices to himself and others to get the job done. And now, after leaving the FBI and in rehab for his heroin withdrawal and addiction and the unbelievable depression from his memories of death, Joshua is so far from the man he once was that his family no longer recognizes him.

His mother and his uncle Tucker conspire to bring him out to his uncle’s ranch in New Mexico. It’s a place he frequented and loved as a kid, but it’s also the perfect place for him to start to come back to himself. In an ironic twist, the ranch’s main operation is the rehabilitation of abused horses, a program run by Tucker and the ranch’s foreman, Elian Kelly. Eli is more than a foreman to the ranch, but also Tucker’s good friend. And seeing Tuck’s young nephew is heartbreaking. He sees him as a broken man he can try to put back together just like the horses that he has a gift with helping. The fresh air, good and hearty food, and reliable and loving family are what Joshua needs to put the past behind him and learn confidence in himself again. The connection and eventual relationship between Joshua and Eli wasn’t part of the plan.

Much of this book was what I was expecting from this book and this author. This is a hurt/comfort story of epic proportions, something that was similar to Rowan Speedwell’s other novel, Finding Zach. Joshua is not much a guy who needs a little rehab, but a severely traumatized person, emotionally, physically and chemically, from his forced addiction to heroin. And Eli is the gentle giant, reliant and safe and perfect in a lot of ways. I mean, this makes for a good setup, something that has worked well for this author in the past. And I liked this couple together. I felt like a lot of time went by setting up the story and I would maybe have liked to get to know Eli and Joshua actually together in their relationship for longer than we got, but they have a crazy amount of chemistry that came through for me, and the dynamic works well for them and goes hand in hand with the setting really well.

So the problems that I had with the book didn’t really spoil my enjoyment of the book — it remained something highly enjoyable to read. Maybe it’s that Finding Zach is such a hard book to live up to for me, especially with a character like Joshua who so reminded me of Zach with all of the emotional turmoil he has to work through throughout the book. Still, this wasn’t a perfect read for me. Some of the behavior of the characters seemed a little too… contrived, like the totally happy-go-lucky family atmosphere at the ranch. On the one hand this made the book not overly filled with excess problems but it made Joshua’s problems seem overbalanced in counterpoint, which made their behavior and constant support grating (not their support for Joshua, but just in each other, day to day in the way they act). That probably makes no sense, but I don’t know how to describe it better without making it seem too nitpicky and as if it was a bigger deal than it really was. It just bugged me a bit. The real difficulty I had with the book was the ending.

SPOILERS BELOW

I was hoping that this book wouldn’t end with a resurgence of the gang and the men who would obviously love to come after Joshua if he wasn’t so hidden. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. But, I still would have probably preferred the ending to be a bit more subtle. I liked that Eli and Joshua were getting to know each other and work through their problems and I would have admired the story more if it continued in that direction without needing an outside conflict to come in from seemingly nowhere to act as a catalyst for the couple. And the way it was done made it a little worse than that, with the whole gay basher thing having been written so many times.

SPOILERS END

So while I wasn’t quite happy with the ending, I still enjoyed the book and I liked the first half in particular. It really held my interest. The fact that the main character is dealing with a shitload of issues is just something that depends on the reader to like or dislike. I mean, on the one hand it does seem a bit much because poor Joshua’s life just kept going from bad to worse over and over again. So much of whether you like this book or not will depend on how you feel about that kind of character and conflict. In general, I don’t so much like that, but as I said before I was interested in seeing how I liked this one since I did like that kind of conflict in the hands of his author previously.

The other early reviews I’ve seen for this book have so far been raving, which is good. I think I’m maybe a little pickier than many other reviewers and that’s fine. Rowan Speedwell remains a great author and I’ll continue to look forward to her books.


KMcM_InHotPursuit_coverlgTitle: 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

BLURB

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.

REVIEW

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!


WitnessProtectionTitle: Witness Protection
Author: Derek Adams
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 15k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Roamnce
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, GFY/OFY, Mafia, Cops, Crime, WITSEC, Insta-Love, Archetypes, Ex-Cons, In the Woods
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Ex-con Tony Bradshaw drops into a convenience store on his way home after work, looking for a loaf of bread. What he finds instead is trouble. Overnight, he becomes the star witness in the murder trial of a major mob enforcer. Death threats quickly follow, and Tony’s life is completely disrupted.

Tony is hustled off to a secluded cabin in the woods with bodyguard Alec Dubinski, a handsome young detective who at first appears to be a complete homophobe. Relations between them start off poorly and soon hit rock bottom during a drunken stupor. But after Alec apologizes for his unacceptable behavior, the sexual chemistry between the men can no longer be ignored. A night of unbridled passion leads to a declaration of their growing affection for one another.

Their idyll in the woods is brought to a halt, however, when their hideout is brutally attacked by mafia henchmen. What sacrifice is Tony willing to make as he attempts to save the man he has come to love?

REVIEW

It wasn’t until I finished this story that I checked and realized I haven’t actually ever read anything by Derek Adams before. I have plenty of his stories, but I’ve never gotten around to reading one of them. Now, I can’t say that my feelings about this story have any bearing on the quality of writing in those other stories, but I suspect that had I read anything by this author before last week, when I decided to get this from Amber Allure for review, I might have taken a pass. And honestly, I wish I had.

Tony Bradshaw has had a rough life. Problems at home manifested in his juvenile delinquency at an early age. And once he’s in the system, it’s almost impossible for Tony to get out of it. Criminal habits and a harsh reality of his place in society result in a vicious circle, of a world that continually admonishes Tony for his lack of worth while at the same time actively helping him to fail. Bad behavior and stupid choices as a teenager lead to his need to rob, steal and sell his body to survive as an adult. Tony is the first to admit that while he may have had few choices at that time, it doesn’t negate the fact that with the choices he did have he always chose the worst ones. And Tony knows even more how your image can control who you are and the choices you have.

Tony is on a first name basis with many of Seattle’s cops, and the older cops that know him by name and reputation seem to delight in reminding him that while he has his life together now they’re just waiting for him to slip up so they can remind him of who they know him to be. Having such a bad reputation with law enforcement makes it even harder for Tony to bear what is happening to him now. What Tony thought was a small altercation on a dark street corner turns out to be the smoking gun that cops need to bring down one of the key components of an organized crime ring. He’s in real danger and an obvious target before he can testify in the trial. Now that Tony is an honest citizen, he does his duty and tells the cops what he saw. The cops, on the other hand, only grudgingly give him protection. They send him and a cop by the name of Alec to a cabin in the woods until the trial can be brought together. Tony’s reward for his candor is a one way ticket into WITSEC.

What was a somewhat unoriginal plot (which is pretty obvious from the blurb) was made even worse by choppy writing, superficial characters and a plot that never really went anywhere. By that, I mean that several factors came together in an unfortunate way. The writing itself relies heavily on summary instead of active scene, which we’re given in several info dumps. There are also large gaps in time that end up being gaps in plot because of the lack of transition between parts of the story and in character growth. Most frustrating for me, aside from the lack of growth in the characters, was the stilted dialogue that seemed like something the characters would never say. Also, without showing any of the internal process, one of the characters makes a drastic 180 that really kind of baffled me. And last, I was curious to see how the author would write the end scene. It’s pretty obvious from the blurb what is going to happen. Ultimately, I found the ending completely anticlimactic and the characters actions so apart from their real person that I just really couldn’t understand them at all.

To be quite honest, I really wouldn’t recommend this story — not even if you’re a fan of Derek Adams. I’m sure some people will like this story, but with so many obvious flaws, I think that’s a small percentage of readers.


ThreeFatesLGTitle: Three Fates
Author: Andrew Grey, Mary Calmes & Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 103,075 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Author Backlist Project, Mythology
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

For time immemorial, the goddesses of fate have decided which human threads will shine and which will be cut short. But even the fates have off days.



Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey: Finding love shouldn’t be that difficult for a diplomat’s son, except Cheyenne is part of a grand tradition of werewolves, and a werewolf with a skin condition needs more help than most mortals. When Chay meets the prince of his dreams, it takes Clotho’s intervention to keep him from letting go.



Jump by Mary Calmes: When two lovers die, their threads of life are collected instead of scattered, as one of them was the brother of a god. Can the fates reunite two lovers whose threads should have twined together for eternity? Or will Cassidy allow Raza’s interest to pass his pale, mortal self by?



Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane: The gods’ meddling isn’t always welcome. It’s given Leif good luck but poor fortune, and Hacon a family curse he’s lived in fear of all his life. But when Leif’s good luck saves Hake’s life, Hake has to reevaluate everything he’s ever believed about luck, life, and love.

REVIEW

I was interested in this quasi-anthology (?? — collection?) from the get-go and bought it mostly because of two of my favorite authors — Mary Calmes and Amy Lane — were in it. But, now that I’m reading a book by both of these authors a week, or at least trying, for my Author Backlist Project, I knew it was time to get this one out and see what to make of it. While I mostly liked it, the three stories within are all very different, so I’ll refrain from talking too much in this general part of the review and save it all for the individual stories.

However, all three stories do deal with the mythology of the Three Fates/Sisters/Morai. Known in Greek mythology as Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, there are many things you might associate or remember about them from different sources — the one eye they share, how one allots the yarn or string, one weaves them and the other cuts them. These three different authors dealt with this mythology in different and interesting ways. Andrew Grey didn’t associate them with any of our known mythologies, but made them rather independent and changed their tools from fiber to wheels (though this might be from another cultural myth, I’m not sure). Mary Calmes gives us a the classical Greek definition with a bit of ancient Egyptian flair. Amy Lane, however, took the cake with her representation of the sisters, I think. Much more heavily involved in the lives of the characters of her story than the other author’s stories, her sisters were firmly entrenched in Norse mythology along with some other famous gods you might recognize, Loki and Thor. I found the interludes where they watched and discussed the lives of Leif and Hacon to be some of the best parts of the story and I loved that she inserted a bit of her own fiber knowledge (spit-slicing!) in there for comic relief. Of all the representations of the gods throughout these three stories, I have to say that not only were they the most enjoyable to watch, but they acted the most like the gods from mythology, at turns flighty and careless of their human charges, while at the same time playing favorites and taking a very firm hand in the mortal realm.


Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey (So So)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Wolf Shifters, Germany, Royalty, Mate Bonding

Coming in at around 20% of the overall length of the book, Andrew Grey’s story is the paranormal tale of a wolf shifter named Cheyenne, an American in Bavaria with his family. Chay is the youngest of three boys in their diplomat family, his father a powerful Alpha. Cheyenne is a rather weak wolf himself and not at all like his brothers, the oldest just like their father in strength and personality and the middle cruel and callous. What Chay wants more than anything is so find a mate he can love, but he knows that won’t ever happen. He’s afflicted with a mysterious skin condition, but when he’s a wolf and a human that covers his skin in large and red flaky patches that drive him crazy with discomfort and pain. He’s a bit of an embarrassment to his family really — who wants to sit next to the boy constantly starching himself at a state dinner?

So Chay might be the most surprised of all of them when he finally gets a whiff of his mate at a ball. And not only is it a man like he expected (and his father feared), but it’s Arthur, a prince. Chay is doomed. Not only is his mate entirely out of his league, but he’s human. The intervention of a mysterious and divine woman will change all of that.

I suppose that I was just a little bit disappointed by this story. I mean, it isn’t bad, but it really isn’t great either. It’s cute, but we never really get to know Arthur that well. It was frustrating to see the climax of the story hinge on the stupidity of the characters rather than a more original plot twist and the behavior of all of the characters was a little annoying. It doesn’t quite read “Big Mis” standards, because the miscommunication doesn’t last all that long, but I was hoping for a more interesting turn of events. In many respects it’s a werewolf Cinderfella (Cindercubba?) story, with the rich prince falling in love with the skin-afflicted commoner (no matter how rich he is), but I found the tone of the story to be more in line with a typical paranormal story rather than a fairy tale.

In all, this was my least favorite story in the collection. However, it takes a really ingenious, original and interesting shifter story to really get my attention and I know that many readers will like this story. It’s cute, a bit fluffy and an easy read. It just wasn’t what I was looking for.


Jump by Mary Calmes (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Cops/Agents, Crime, The Mafia, Psychics, Mythology, Reincarnation

Taking up about a third of the overall length of the book, Jump is the story of Cassidy, a short-term psychic matchmaker who is urged by his gift to interrupt the pattern of Raza’s life, in order to safe him from death. Raza is a mysterious figure, surrounded by guards, but Cassidy can immediately see that for as dangerous as he looks he has a big heart and a sweet disposition. Cassidy, who is rather self-effacing and seems desperate to remain lonely and guarded from his lovers, and the two immediately take to one another.

What they don’t know is how their lives are fated to continually cross after their death in a past life in ancient Egypt. It isn’t just Cass’ gift that shows they have an extra-strong connection to one another, but also interference from the gods. Because this divine intervention from the gods is set up in the prologue, I didn’t really mind too much that Raza and Cass fall immediately in love. If they were fated and felt like they knew each other upon meeting because of their past-life history, then I can suspend disbelief for that. I actually found Cass to be an interesting Calmes character, because though he has the token magnetism that she always seems to give her characters, where everyone is drawn to them as if they’re sent down from Heaven, Cass was actually rather nerdy and had quite a strong streak of low self-esteem.

This was definitely an enjoyable read, something that I’m used to getting with Mary Calmes’ stories. I still had a few problems with it, though. I felt it was rather short for the plot. I’m used to quite a fast pace from this author, where the scenes bleed into one another and seem to go directions I hadn’t expected, but I felt like since the mystery behind the men who want to kill Raza isn’t the primary focus of the story then we could maybe have gotten some more time for the romance to develop. I’m not even saying to make it not insta-love, but they only know one another for one day before their jumping into an HEA (and they really jump into it!), but a couple extra days together wouldn’t have hurt anything and I would have liked to have a little more time to settle into the relationship and see the characters getting to know each other better.


Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Norse Mythology, Fiber Arts, Family Issues, Mystery

The last story in this collection takes the remaining half of the book, coming in at a much longer story than the others and around 50k. It’s certainly a much larger story, with more characters and more time for the characters to develop a relationship. I already talked about one of my favorite aspects of this story, the heavy intervention on the part of the gods at just about every turn. The thing that made this story so absolutely charming, though, is Leif, who is lucky. Leif’s luck is a tangible thing, a little piece of string he sees in his mind which makes his decisions for him and keeps him out of trouble. It’s hardly scientific and sometimes it leads him into trouble only for him to learn that with that trouble is an even luckier payoff at the end. It also doesn’t mean that Leif has lived a charmed life. The luck/string goes hand in hand with his personality, however. It has shown Leif to look on the bright side of every situation, which leads him to have the sunniest disposition of any person or character I’ve ever seen. Some might even think him naive, but he’s a completely unique and utterly enthralling character, and so absolutely charming that you’ll be cheering for him to have his happily ever after.

There is quite a bit more that I could talk about with this story, there are (funnily enough) multiple strands running throughout that all give greater meaning in reflection of one another. But, I’ll let you find out all about this one on your own. Sure, I liked the other stories — I liked Mary Calmes’ story a lot — but this story is worth buying the whole book for. Even if you don’t read the others, get this book to read this story. Leif charmed me so much that I want to say he’s one of my all time favorite Amy Lane characters, which is saying something considering I finish every book of her’s and think, ‘WOW… those are my new favorite characters!’


sinnersginTitle: Sinner’s Gin (Sinner’s Gin #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 85,843 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Rockers, Cops, Diverse Pairing, Irish, Past Sexual Abuse, Hurt/Comfort, Injuries, Man’s Best Friend (Dogs!), Big Families, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.

After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.

Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.

REVIEW

I read this with a friend over Christmas, and while I enjoyed this book, I think that other readers seem to be liking it more than me. I’ve been thinking about it since, and while I’ve avoided looking at how it’s been received since those early few days and from reader and reviewer reviews, at that time it seemed like this was coming off really well. And it deserves it. I’m not really sure what it was about the story that I didn’t quite connect with, but I’ll try to flesh it out in a minute.

The story starts with a stunner of a prologue (which I’ll leave alone, but btw, RF, you are really packing the punches with the prologues and epilogues lately!). As the main story starts, we get to know Miki mostly from Kane’s POV as the man who owns the dog that keeps stealing his art supplies. Soon after he gets to know Miki from terse front door words about the exact ownership of the dog, they become embroiled in a murder mystery. Kane finds a dead body in Miki’s classic restored GTO, and not just any dead body, but the body of the man who used to torture Miki as a street kid, opening up a past of abuse and cruelty that Miki doesn’t want to face.

I suppose it is just personal that parts of this story didn’t connect with me. I loved Kane, and I loved Miki to an extent. I had a difficult time going through all of his horrible upturned life with him. He suffer(s/ed) quite a lot at the hands of various people, as well as fate, and as one thing packed onto a another and the dynamic between the two became, at times, very hurt/comfort. The problem for me was in the structure of the story and the pacing, which seemed to relegate most of the action to the first and last 25% and the bulk of the middle to character growth and relationship growth. But that middle part got bogged down for me because the emotions were pretty heavy. And not exactly the emotions but the type of abuse that Miki suffered and his bleak day to day existence was difficult for me to read in one stretch. I kept braking and wishing for some of the investigation to come back and break up some of the tension.

That said, the rest of the story was a treat. Where the white cop/lithe korean man dynamic might seem familiar, the characters are quite different from Cole and Jae, especially in the differences between Kane and Cole (I found Kane much more immediately accessible but not lacking in depth). This book deals with what might seem to be heavier issues (child sexual abuse), I didn’t find it any darker in tone than her previous books. I compare the start of this new series to that one because I know that almost every reader who reads this, or plans to buy it, will. And while there are surface similarities, I found them satisfyingly different.

What I can’t really figure out from my own feelings is how much my liking of this book is wrapped up in how much I look forward to the next coming book in the series. Because while this book has a lot to recommend it, I didn’t ever get excited about it while reading until the surprise epilogue, which immediately made me upset I couldn’t read further 😉 And while it did feel good to leave on a note that excited me about reading more, I’m not sure I’d be happy if RF ended up relying on this device (not saying she will, just my feelings). Still, I have a feeling that this book is worth reading to get to that second book, and I hope the exploration of that secret will inject some more forward momentum into the story that I wanted here.

So, I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this series, and as always remain an avid fan of this author’s work.