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
Title: Private Dicks: Undercovers
Editors: Samantha M Derr
Authors: Siobhan Crosslin, K-Lee Klein, Holly Rinna-White, Alison Bailey, Megan Derr, EE Ottoman, Isabella Carter & Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 135k words
Genre: m/m + m/m/m Mystery Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Short Stories, Private Investigators, Undercover
Rating: Pretty Good
Temper by Siobhan Crosslin—Reese hates deception, but that’s all his life has been since he was sent to investigate a wolf pack on clashing sets of orders. Keeping his lies separated is all that’s keeping him alive, and it’s a job that grows harder by the day—especially with the unexpected complications of the alpha he’s investigating.
The PI and the Rockstar by K-lee Klein—Mason is a detective. He’s not flashy or hip and he doesn’t have an office conducive to entertaining wealthy clients. But when made-of-money Durango and his gum-snapping daughter hire him to do surveillance on a popular rockstar named Jade Jonathan Lee, Mason’s business world collides with his personal life, and the result is a mystery that must be solved.
Glamour by Holly Rinna-White—When his little brother is kidnapped, Jason hires Eric, PI and long-time crush, to find him, terrified of what will happen if people learn his brother is unregistered psychic. But when Jason is kidnapped as well, he learns he and his brother are not the only ones keeping secrets.
The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey—When the Virginia Gentleman rides into town, it’s a sure bet that trouble ain’t far behind. He’s quick on the draw, feared by all, and one sad little group of train robbers is about to find out why it’s never wise to bet on trouble.
The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr—Esmour is one the best Inquisitors in the kingdom, but the penance bracelets on his wrists serve as constant reminder that once he was not a master of deception, but a victim. To solve his latest case, he must work alongside the liar who changed his life, and the love he learned too late was never real.
Regarding the Detective’s Companion by E.E. Ottoman—Jamie is desperate: he has no money, rent is coming due, and if he doesn’t do something soon he’ll be forced back into a life of charity and pity. So when he is brought a case, Jamie takes it—even if it will mean lying to his client, manipulating the suspect and propelling himself into the middle of a plot involving murder and political intrigue.
The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter—One dead body left at the door is more than enough, but after three are left on the stoop of his father’s agency and no one else is willing to investigate, Quinton decides he’ll just have to solve the mystery himself.
Too Dangerous by Sasha L. Miller—Shi is good at what he does, no matter what his stupid ex thought. Danger comes with the territory, especially when that territory includes a special license to do select work for the government. But when the government needs him to fix something that defeated even their most elite, Shi learns that some situations are too much even for him.
I’ve been sitting on this anthology for a while, but if there’s anything that I know about anthologies from Less Than Three Press, it’s that they’re usually some of my favorites, it not my overall favorites from a specific publisher. So I was excited to read it and I found several stories within that I really liked.
Once again, as with the LT3 anthology I reviewed earlier this week (Something Happened on the Way to Heaven — reviewed here), I was delighted with the diversity in the stories presented. Each story deals with a Private Investigator and a mystery, but the stories cross all genres, from Paranormal to Steampunk to Science Fiction, Contemporary and Western. I really enjoyed the steampunk story, “Regarding the Detective’s Companion” by EE Ottoman. Even though it isn’t the best story in the anthology, I really liked the characters, the mystery and the world. Having a steampunk world was also nice because there are so few m/m steampunk stories. The first story is one of my favorites. With a very distinctive style, Siobhan Crosslin takes us into an extreme werewolf society with some really fine writing.
So, look below and I’ll give you a bit about each story. The reviews will be shorter than usual, because this was a longer anthology, but the tags and info about each story will give you quite a bit about what each one has to offer 🙂
Temper by Siobhan Crosslin (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Wolves & Dragons), Mate Bonding, Enforcer/Thug, Violence, Undercover
Siobhan Crosslin takes us into a highly segregated world of the different paranormal races. Werewolves form highly structured packs, and Reese has been sent by his alpha to investigate an alpha of a different pack. He infiltrates them easily. Reese was raised and groomed into a killing machine and his loyalties are clouded by his feelings for each alpha — his fear of the old one and his shifting loyalty to the new one, the one he’s lying to, and the one he’s falling in love with.
This one ended up being on the high end of Pretty Good for me, almost Really Liked It. In fact, for most of the story I really, really liked it. Most of all, I loved the writing style. The story thrusts you into the lies and deception from a point of view that is compromised, confused and unable to accurately bring the reader up to speed about what is actually going on and who is who. I admired that and fell into the story, excited by the challenging point of view. It soon grew to be tedious, however, and I ended the story upset that I never really learned much about the world or the people. I had hoped that the writing I loved so much was just being choosy about how to impart information to the reader, but what was held back never came to light.
I’ve since read the sequel to this story (Weld), or rather another story by this author, not a direct serial but also in this world. I ended up liking that one even less, because it carried on with this same writing style, but at an even higher degree, which made for an unpleasant read, unfortunately.
The PI and the Rockstar by K-Lee Klein (So So)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Rockers, Private Investigators, Piercings!, Sexy to the 999s, Closeted
Mason is a private investigator with a rather famous boyfriend. Though that’s all on the hush hush. Of course, that secret means that when a teenage client and her father come into his office asking him to find a musician that got the girl pregnant and then ditched her, he can’t tell them that the man they’re trying to frame is, in fact his boyfriend, the lead singer of a popular rock group. So what is the girl really up to? And how will the added level of duplicity affect Mason’s relationship with Jade?
This was an okay story for me. I was a bit sad that there weren’t any surprises for me — as soon as the girl came in with her father and explained “what happened” with the rockstar, I had a feeling I knew what was going to happen. Sadly, I was right. Add to that the fact that I never really felt like I got to know the characters well, made this story just a So So read for me.
Glamour by Holly Rinna-White (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Brothers, Undercover, Private Investigator, Psychic, Aliens, Kidnapping
Most of my enjoyment of this story came from the world, which I found rather interesting. Jason and his brother are both unregistered psychics, in a world where those with abilities have to come forward to be assessed by the government. While Jason has mild precognition, his little brother is a different case, with a powerful precognitive sight that puts them all in danger. When Jason’s little brother is psychic, he must go to the man he’s had a crush on for months. Eric is a private investigator with secrets of his own, the least of which is that he’s as interested in Jason as Jason is in him. Searching for the men who kidnapped Jason’s brother, and then trying to rescue Jason himself when the fool rushes in to save his brother, brings both of them closer together.
The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey (So So)
Genre: m/m Western Historical Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Undercover, Cowboys, Thieves, Kidnapping, Private Investigator
I admit, I had a little trouble with this one. I read half of it, finished the anthology then came back and re-read this story. I enjoy westerns, but most westerns in m/m romance are simply contemporary cowboy stories, and this story harkens to a much more authentic historical Old West. The story moved a little too slow for me, but that is all personal preference — the pace suits the plot and sub-genre.
While a man is searching for a boy that was taken years ago as a child, the Virginia Gentleman is looking for some helping hands for a train robbery. Finding the boy and his ogre of a keeper, as well as a man looking to score money to settle with his fiancee, the Virginia Gentlemen leads them across the west to a planned heist of a princess’ carriage. Along the way the VG gets to know the young boy, now a young man but shy and quiet and scared, all while holding some rather big secrets of his own.
The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Alternate World Historical Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Royalty, Thieves, Second Chances, Undercover, The Big Mis
I really, really enjoyed this story. You all know how much I love Megan Derr’s writing, and I really got into this story. Sadly, I felt like the tension was created by a misunderstanding, and while it isn’t classic Big Mis type situation, having to do with some duplicity from other nefarious characters, it was still a little disappointing to me that the hurt Esmour feels in this story is because of pride and miscommunication. Still, that was only a shadow on the ending for me, and for the most part I really liked this one.
Esmour wears bracelets that show his penance toward the crown. Unknowingly involved in a sting operation in the past, he came down on the wrong side of the axe when all was said and done, only spared from the noose by his connection and faux-relationship with the undercover prince. Now, the prince has need of him to solve a mystery slave trade in a city in the kingdom, and Esmour, despite his bracelets, is still the best investigator working for the crown. The case will force the two back together into a situation that for all the hurt it may cause might ultimately lead to a reconciliation that Esmour could never have envisioned.
Regarding the Detective’s Companion by EE Ottoman (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Historical, Steampunk Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Disability, Injured Character, Nerds/Geeks, Politics, Science, Awesome Female Characters, Present Tense
**Spoiler Alert! The review of this story in the anthology has some spoilers**
Jamie was rescued from certain death by a priest. With no working legs, he hobbles on crutches, but manages to get around a steampunk Victorian England trying to solve enough cases to make a name for himself as a private investigator. If he does, he might finally be able to make rent, but as it is he’s facing another week of near starvation and one step closer to being back on the streets… or worse, falling up on the Father’s mercy. In his desperation, Jamie takes a case from a man who he’s certain is aiming to frame an innocent man for murder. So what if he didn’t explicitly agree to finding the man guilty? If he investigates, he can find the real murderer and bring real justice. The case could make his career. Plus, they’re paying him up front.
I really liked this story, mostly because of the characters. Jamie is great, but the really great characters are the friends he makes during his time undercover, as well as the sweet romance that develops with his employer and the man he’s meant to frame. I think what I really liked was that this story diverted from the norm. What I expect when I read a story with the lie/undercover plot device is that the deception will go on until the characters are in love and then the secret coming out destroys the trust and is the climax of the story. Instead, when the truth of Jamie’s deception is revealed, the characters band together, almost making their relationship stronger with the real truth. It brings down the barriers that previously existed as boss/assistant and teacher/student and put the characters on an equal footing. Plus, that allows the two to continue the investigation, but now together. And I really liked that, because the best parts of this story are the interactions between these two characters. It’s sweet, awkward, funny, and totally nerdy. And I loved it 🙂
The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter (Not Feelin’ It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Serial Killer, Demons
For some reason, I really just could not get into this story. I think it was the fact that both the romance and the mystery felt a bit incomplete to me. And even more, I didn’t really understand any of the characters, and to a smaller extent, what was really going on in the end. This could obviously be in my own mis-reading of the story, but I still never really latched on to this story like the others, no matter how little I understood about the end. Plus, I didn’t ever feel like this was really an m/m/m story.
Quinton has now found several bodies lying at the door of his father’s detective agency. No matter how many times he brings the subject of what to do about it up to his father, his father refuses to give him any information about it, despite the fact that Quinton feels he deserves to know, not only because he’s now older and wants to investigate the mystery himself, but also because he’s found the bodies, and he knew them. But when the third body is left of the stoop and Quinton finds a letter addressed to him, he decides he must investigate.
Too Dangerous by Sasha L Miller (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Second Chances, Military, Futuristic, Secrets & Lies, Kidnapping/Hostage
Ending this anthology with a Science Fiction story was a nice change of pace from the previous ones. And I really like Sasha MIller’s work, so this story, which was more of an action/adventure story was very nice to end the book with.
Shi is a successful private investigator, but he’s thinking about letting his military consultant status (at the highest clearance) lapse. Working a case for the military was how he met his ex-boyfriend in the first place and Shi is still trying to get over their breakup several months previously. So when he arrives at his office to find an unmarked hovercraft, he knows that the military has come to call once again. He fully expects to turn the offer down. After all, he made sure that provision was put into his contract. But when he finds out that he’s the only man for the job — to infiltrate the operate of a space crime syndicate to rescue the remaining member of the special ops team being held captive on the man’s ship — he knows he has to consider. Especially when he finds out that the man held captive is… his ex-boyfriend. No matter the hard feelings, he can’t leave him there. So despite the fact that he’s in way over his head, he’ll do what he has to to get the man out of there, and hopefully get some answers in the process.
Posted by Cole in 126k+, 2 Not Feelin' It, 3 So So, 4 Pretty Good, 5 Really Like It, Alternate World, Authors A-C, Authors D-F, Authors J-L, Authors M-O, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Fantasy, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Historical, m/m/m Polyamorous, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 1 - None, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, Steampunk, Western Tags: Action/Adventure, Aliens, Alison Bailey, Anthology, Awesome Female Characters, Brothers, Closeted, Cowboys, Demons, Dragon Shifters, EE Ottoman, Enforcer, Futuristic, Holly Rinna-White, Injured Character, Isabella Carter, K-Lee Klein, Kidnapping/Abduction, Less Than Three Press, Mate Bonding, Megan Derr, Military, Musicians, Nerds/Geeks, Physical Disabilities/Trauma, Piercings, Politics, Present Tense, Private Investigators, Psychic, Royalty, Samantha Derr, Sasha L Miller, Science, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Serial Killer, Sexy to the 999's, Short Story, Siobhan Crosslin, The Big Mis, Thieves, Undercover, Violence, Wolf Shifters
Title: Lesser Evils
Author: Andrea Speed
Length: 150,486 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal, Horror, Mystery, Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Shifters, Serial Killer, Urban Fantasy, Series
Rating: Really liked it
Reviewed by Sadonna
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the first five books in this series, information in this review can be considered spoilers. It is not recommended to read this series out of order as each story builds on the previous history of the characters and events.
In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.
Until recently, Roan was ahead of the curve when it came to reining in the lion that lives inside him. Now his control is slipping at the worst possible times. A new drug has hit the streets—one that triggers unscheduled changes in infected users. Street hustler Holden Krause gets attacked by one of his clients, then is surprised to find himself involved in an unwanted, unexpected relationship. And a serial killer begins targeting infecteds in their cat form—something that’s 100 percent legal.
To stop the murders, Roan has to work outside the law. But his newfound thirst for violence makes him worry he might be more like the killer than he thought, and his reluctance to talk about it with his husband, Dylan, puts an extra strain on their relationship. So Roan isn’t just fighting the killer and struggling with his mutating virus… he’s trying to save himself.
This latest installment of the starts with a bang and we continue on the usual roller-coaster ride that is the Infected series. If you are not familiar with this series, each of the published books includes two stories/mysteries from Andrea Speed’s serial, but the flow of the stories is not impeded by this format.
Roan is less able to control the lion and he feels like he is becoming a danger to everyone human around him – especially after he accidentally cracks a skull when he attempts to pull his punch. He has recently gotten news from his doctor that the virus is mutating yet again and his physiology is changing in new and unexplainable ways. He confesses the truth to Dylan and Dylan is worried that he is giving up.
The Church of the Divine Transformation approaches Roan about becoming a leader among the Infected which he promptly dismisses. But as the first story/mystery evolves, a new “designer” drug that specifically targets and kills infecteds gets his attention and he begins to think maybe he does need to do something. He is repeatedly called to intervene as the drug continues to crop up in various venues costing both infected and human lives. The race is on to figure out who is making the drug and why and how they are distributing it. It’s so sophisticated even Dr. Rosenberg, Roan’s doctor and an authority on the werevirus can’t figure out how it’s being made. Of course Roan decides to hunt down the drug dealers. As the incidents become more deadly, Roan determines that he can’t just sit on the sidelines.
In the meantime, Holden, his sometimes assistant who is also a high class rent boy has gotten involved with a high profile client who decides to try some rough stuff with him. When Holden informs the client that he won’t tolerate that, he is nearly beaten to death. Needless to say, Roan does not take kindly to this. His method of dealing with the perpetrators scares him – he feels himself becoming less human. Dylan once again tries to convince him he is wrong.
One of the fun aspects of this book is the reappearance of Roan’s hockey team posse. Local minor league players Tank and Scott and Grey and Jeff are around to perform various functions for Roan: getting him out of the hospital and protecting him from bigots, protecting his house, cheering him up when he’s down, and distracting him from the crap that just keeps coming. These guys are a great addition to this series and I hope we continue to see them. We also get treated to/tortured with some more conversations with Paris. These always make me sad but I love that the author includes them as the series continues.
In the second half of this installment, the mystery and pace of the novel and didn’t match the first half for a few chapters. There is a one off rescue with Holden and then a mysterious “missing persons” case that didn’t work for me, but it was shorter section of book. Somehow for me, these pieces felt like they didn’t belong in this book.
The final episode of this volume involves a serial killer who is hunting cats. Unfortunately it’s not really a crime to kill infecteds in their cat form. Roan is appalled by the lack of concern from the police. It seems that they are only “people” in his mind. He decides he will stalk the killer since nobody else is willing to spend any resources try to protect these “undesirables.” Holden is of course involved in this case as well – he has become Roan’s go-to guy. As Roan merges more with the lion he seems to have more trouble controlling his shifts and his health is once again endangered. The cliffhanger of at the end of this book is making me anxious about the next one (which has been contracted, but does not have a release date).
This is one of my favorite series because of the characters. In case you haven’t realized it yet, I have a particular affinity for really f*ed up characters and Roan is certainly one of the best the genre. He’s fighting against everything in his life, but mostly himself. His “family” of loved ones and friends keeps pulling him back from brink when he sinks too low. Each book is an emotional ride, so be warned if you are considering diving into this series. The pool is deep, but worth it.
Posted by Sadonna in 126k+, 5 Really Like It, Authors S-U, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Infected series, Serial Killer, Series, Shifters, Urban Fantasy
Title: Power Exchange
Author: A.J. Rosen
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press
Length: 117K words
Genre: MM BDSM Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average sex to story ratio
Keywords/Tags: Cops, Serial Killer, Psychologist, Brothers, Coming Out
Rating: Really liked it
Reviewed by Sadonna
From the moment Detective Gavin DeGrassi steps into the world of BDSM to solve the brutal slaying of Dom George Kaiser, his course is not his own. Mesmerized by the context in which the victim lived and the images of the lifestyle seared into his soul, Gavin must find a way to navigate these unknown waters. With his personal life in upheaval due to marital trouble, and his professional life uncertain with the assignment of a new partner, Gavin needs all the help he can get understanding the case.
Enter Ben Haverson, a psychologist and a well known Dom. With Ben’s help as a consultant and attention to Gavin’s own murky truths, Gavin delves deeper than he ever thought he would into the world of restraints and paddles. Forced to scrutinize his true nature and his innermost desires, Gavin has a choice: keep the fear of submitting at bay, or dive in and solve the case with the knowledge he gains. When another victim is discovered, Gavin’s choice is made for him, and he’s pulled headlong into the deepest, most emotional journey of his life.
Unfortunately for him and Ben, a killer has noticed, has taken stock, and has set his sights on the D/s pair. Can Gavin outwit him, or will his first exchange of power be his last?
Where to start! So I read the first chapter of this story online and was hooked immediately. The character of Gavin DeGrassi is so well written that I just wanted to read faster and faster to see what was going to happen to him. In this book, there are really two parallel journeys/stories: Gavin’s journey of self-discovery and the race to solve a string of serial murders in the local BDSM community.
It opens with the killing of man involved in BDSM and the staging of the murder in the man’s playroom. Gavin is one of the homicide detectives called in on the case. His partner, Trent, is kind of a jerk even if he is a pretty good detective. Gavin and Trent meet with consultant Dr. Ben Haverson who is not only a noted local psychologist, but also a Dom. Ben is to provide insight into both the BDSM world as well as the killings. Unfortunately Gavin is also extremely attracted to Ben. This is a problem since he is married and his partner is pretty homophobic. Gavin has spent years denying his attraction to men. Given the pressure from his family of 3 brothers – also all cops – and his retired police Lieutenant father and his social climbing wife, he is already on the edge.
The pressure from his family (really two of his brothers, his parents and his wife, Victoria) includes his refusal to go for a promotion. He is happy being a homicide detective and he’s good at it. He doesn’t like paperwork and politics and has no interest in climbing the ranks. At the family Sunday brunch, he feels blindsided by his wife and mother and father who start talking about his career and the possibility of starting a family. Later in the day, Gavin is blindsided yet again by Victoria’s actions and he leaves their home, thereby setting up his evening trip to a BDSM club where he runs into Ben.
From this point in the story, we learn much about Gavin’s pent-up desire and why he has been firmly in the closet all these years. However, he cannot resist Ben and begins a physical relationship with him. Ben believes that Gavin is a natural submissive and that he can show him the true meaning of the power exchange in such relationships. As they embark on this journey, another murder occurs and they are no closer to solving the original murder.
Gavin gets a new partner, Myah, who has transferred from Chicago. She is a beautiful woman who is used to not being taken seriously. She finds Gavin to be a breath of fresh air and they build a very good relationship – both working and personal. Unfortunately as soon as she joins homicide, another murder takes place of another Dom also staged in the dungeon of his home. This couple has a closer tie to Ben and Gavin is upset about that as well as the fact that there are now two unsolved murders and no physical evidence or suspects.
As Ben and Gavin deepen their relationship and Ben tutors Gavin in BDSM, they are racing against the clock to solve yet more murders within the community. As the case escalates, Myah and Gavin’s brother Cole are also instrumental in trying to solve the murders and find the killer. Unfortunately this is the place where the murder mystery part of the story falls apart a little for me. I was disappointed that Gavin didn’t figure out who the killer was since I’m sure virtually every reader did.
The relationship part of this story between Ben and Gavin was fascinating and hot and really well written. The exploration of the BDSM culture and the meaning it has in the lives of the participants was sensitively portrayed in the budding relationship between these two men. The mystery part – well that wasn’t too mysterious. But overall, it is still a very good read and I really enjoyed it. Recommended especially for anyone who wants more insight into BDSM.
Posted by Sadonna in 101-125k, 5 Really Like It, Authors P-R, BDSM / Kink, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: AJ Rose, Coming Out, Cops/Crime, Power Exchange, Psychologist, Serial Killer, Voodoo Lily Press