Why I read it: I've seen this one recommended by a number of trusted reviewers to I took the plunge. I'm glad I did - it was certainly worth my time and it was a bargain at $2.99 on the Kindle.
What it's about: (from Goodreads) A male prostitute, a mangy cat, a murder and a maniacal mix-up that threatens his career, his impending marriage and his life. Nothing is going as planned for Austin Glass.
Austin seems to have it all. At least on the surface. A loving fiancee. A future with the FBI and a healthy sized trust fund. He also has a grin and a wisecrack for every situation. But the smile he presents to everyone hides a painful past he’s buried too deeply to remember. And his quips mask bitterness and insecurity. Austin has himself and most of the whole world fooled. Until he meets someone who immediately sees him better than he sees himself. As events unfold and Austin’s world unravels, he finds himself pushed into making quick life-changing decisions. But can he trust Peter or what’s happening between them when each meeting seems to be just a series of volatile reactions?
What worked for me (and what didn't): This quirky m/m romance come detective novel comes with bags of humour, an engaging, if very large, cast of characters and angsty goodness to top it all off. Told in Austin's 1st person POV (except for a brief flashback scene in Peter's POV), the writing style is light and funny, with Austin delivering cracking one-liners, mainly at his own expense. His characterisation is very consistent and his arc is believable. Events shortly before the commencement of the book have left him ripe for an implosion and, when he meets bunny-slipper wearing Peter at a diner when he's waiting for an informant, his heretofore buried homosexuality makes itself known - along with all the baggage he's been hiding as well. Austin's life - his job, his relationship with fiancee Angelica, his relationship with his co-workers and his plans to join the FBI are all threatened by his burgeoning feelings for Peter. But, can he be trusted? It seems that almost every word coming out of Peter's mouth is a lie. There is enough there however, for Austin to keep coming back.
As Austin is presented as someone who's lid has finally blown off rather than it being a totally new revelation, I found his journey to be quite believable, even if some of the individual decisions in terms of his position as a detective and his dealings with the criminal justice system were more than questionable. He did face consequences for those decisions though so, even though some of those things were perhaps a bit on the unbelievable side, it wasn't magically made better and it gave some balance to those aspects of the story.
Peter was harder to get to know. As we see him almost exclusively from Austin's POV. There were a couple of questions I had about him even at the end (which the author was kind enough to answer for me when I emailed her - she was a bit too subtle for me in places!).
There were some small editing issues in the book - some random words cropping up in the middle of a sentence where they didn't belong, a few typos - this is a self published piece but frankly, I've seen the same (and even much worse) errors in traditionally published books. I did notice it however so it gets a mention here.
To add to the sense of quirk this book has in spades, each section has a brief sentence providing a descriptor of the scene to come. Eg,
Fucking Bunny Slippers
Not a Cock Sucking Fixation
Givin' It Before Gettin' It - Always Beat Them To the Punch
The Truth Sucks. And It Is Awesome
It was amusing at first but I was a bit over it by the end. If it had been each chapter instead of each scene change, I don't think I would have got so sick of it but the scene changes were frequent and it seemed like there was one of these lines every 2 or 3 pages.
The plot is convoluted - but the book is 331 pages long on my reader, so we are talking a full length novel here - there is room and time for the large cast of characters - they pretty much all had things to do and they were all distinct enough that it wasn't difficult to keep track of. However convoluted the plot, it made sense and I never felt that the story was being tortured into a twisted knot to make it all fit - clearly the author knew where this was going from the beginning. As this was as much a noir-ish detective novel as a romance, I appreciated that very much.
I also appreciated that the female characters in the book were not caricatures - I've seen a few complaints about the place that a lot of m/m romance seems to be very woman-hating - in that female characters are all the evil-witches of evil and there are no nice ones. I'm not all that sensitive about the issue (I'm not sure what that says about me!) but I've seen the complaint enough that I noticed here that character's like Dave's wife, Marta, the fiancee/ex-fiancee, Angelica and even Cai's mother, are portrayed in a (mostly) flattering light.
What else? My buddy Kris rated this one 4 stars on Goodreads, which is like an 11 for anyone else so you don't just have to take my word for it.
There are more books in this world coming out later this year I believe and I'm certainly looking forward to Cai and Agent Cordova's story.