When his vicious cousin Alejandro makes a violent late-night visit, San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado gets a brutal reminder of why he left his family behind. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister, Sophia, who disappeared from the UC San Diego campus, before the FBI digs too deep into his business.
Special Agent Elliot Belkamp spent his entire life jumping from one place to another, but his new assignment assisting a FBI task force offers him a chance to settle down. When Elliot catches a missing person’s case as his first assignment, the last person he expects to find poking around the victim’s dorm room is Ray, a one-time hookup he’s more inclined to punch in the face than kiss hello. After discovering Sophia’s disappearance is linked to a massive computer-based theft that has two powerful crime families ready to declare war, Elliot focuses on his investigation and tries to ignore Ray. As the search for Sophia turns dangerous, Elliot and Ray discover that tackling organized crime might be easier than resisting the urge to tackle each other.
When San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado finds out his cousin Sophia is a missing person, it’s not a co-worker who tells him. It’s his cousin Alejandro, a man who is head of a crime family battling for supremacy of organized crime in San Diego now that the previous ruling family boss has been arrested. Alejandro and the rest of Ray’s family are on the opposite side of the law from Ray. He chose the path he’s following now, even though it’s estranged him from his family and puts him at risk for retaliation. But he knows Alejandro well enough to know that there must be some ulterior motive to his alert about Sophia. And when he finally starts to dig deeper, Ray discovers that Sophia, genius computer programming student that she is, has embezzled money from Alejandro, wiping out his accounts.
The other thing Ray discovers is that he’s not the only one digging into Sophia’s disappearance, and the FBI agent he encounters is the last one he’d want to bump into. Agent Elliot Belkamp is one of Ray’s secret one-night stands, and Ray would prefer to keep it that way. Ray’s in the closet and wants nothing to do with a relationship, though if he was ever going to have one, Elliot might be that man. Elliot, on the other hand, is indeed seeking a relationship. In fact, Ray comes right out and degrades him for “holding out for a fairy tale”, putting Elliot’s nose out of joint.
So when they finally realize they need to shelve their personal issues and work together, and they can’t seem to look at each other closely without wanting sex, they decide to “pretend” to be having a relationship, just so that they can get along 24/7.
Ray’s life is threatened, his apartment blown up, and Elliot’s home equally compromised by halfway through the story. The guys need to stick together, if for no other reason than to have each other’s backs and stay alive. But that doesn’t mean that their pseudo-relationship is going to run smooth, nor does it mean they can both handle the “pretend” part.
This is a great story, with lots of “shoot ’em up” action scenes and an equal number of tender scenes between two guys who don’t realize just how well they fit together. I enjoyed the plot, the mystery, the adventure, the secondary characters, and most of all the MCs. Ray was so worried about his machismo image, yet he held a soft spot for Elliot he just didn’t know what to do with. Plus, he sucked at communicating his feelings. Elliot, on the other hand, was warm and loveable from the start. I felt like adopting this geek who was as skilled in close quarters combat as he was in the kitchen, though he preferred a pacifist approach and ate Pop-Tarts.
The narrator was good, but his range of vocalizations between the MCs was not as distinctive as I like, and it seemed like he mixed them up a few times. In addition, he mispronounced quite a few words, so overall, he didn’t detract from the story but didn’t enhance it either.
I highly recommend this story to those who like an M/M action adventure complete with law enforcement and organized crime and with two MCs who really need to learn to communicate better but, nonetheless, are hot and perfect for each other. And as it turns out, apparently they were both “holding out for a fairy tale” and they got their happy ending. Sweet!