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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.


safewordTitle: Safeword
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

****Spoiler alert****

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.

BLURB

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?

REVIEW

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!