Publisher: Carnal Embrace Romance
Genre: MM Cops/Military
Summary: A near-fatal shot through his chest teaches Lieutenant Bryan Smyth of the NYPD two things: He wants to live to see more days and he wants to spend them with his estranged husband, Justice.
Poor decisions made under the strain of grief split the seams of their marriage. Now it’s up to Bryan to show Justice there’s still enough of their love left to salvage from the ruins, still something worth the battle ahead.
Bryan’s shooting has opened Justice’s eyes to new lessons too. The first, tomorrow isn’t promised, the second, life’s too short to live in misery. Justice has watched Bryan shuffle back and forth attempting to balance the man he is at home and the man he has to be at the precinct for too long. Now, he’s done. The only problem is, Justice’s heart is having a hard time adhering to the exit strategy in his head.
Desperate to repair their bond, Bryan does the only thing he can to keep his marriage intact, he calls his crazy sister-in-law, True to stir up some organized chaos. She’s a wildcard, yes. As unstable and deadly as nitroglycerin, but she gets the one thing Bryan needs more than anything, results.
The only question left: Is family and fidelity enough to get them through love’s changes, or is this really the end?
Review: While this novella is related to the series King of Queens, it works perfectly as a stand alone (and I haven’t read King of Queens). We are faced with Bryan, a cop, and Justice, a Colonel, who have been together over twenty years. For the last five they have faced numerous challenges to their relationship and Bryan asked for a separation and presented divorce papers. Justice has been fighting for their relationship and his man for five years but Bryan getting nearly fatally shot has made him realize nothing is going to change and it isn’t working. Justice had to make decisions about Bryan’s care while keeping his “secret”, of having a husband, from his fellow police. He’s done watching this man he loves slowly guilt himself to death.
Justice comes from an incredibly strong, sometimes too much, family. They are named for the attributes their parents hoped them to take on. Justice, True, Law, etc. They support each other, they interfere with each other and they order each other around. They’ve opened their arms to Bryan, who’s family is definitely not like that. He had a life planned that was taken away when he was caught with a boy at 17. He was beaten nearly to death by his father and shipped off to the military, with a choice of Marines or die. Luckily, though, this is where he met Justice, who accepts him, loves him and gives him family.
I liked these guys immensely and wanted them to work it out. The one problem I had, which caused my rating to dip just a little, was that despite Bryan for 20 years hiding Justice and for five years pushing him away, serving papers, etc, it felt like the blame for everything was laid squarely on Justice when he in fact finally says enough. He himself takes blame on and my god, that man tried to keep it all going, while he himself was also suffering.
The Amari family says, oh no you don’t, and a plan is put into place to get the two back together. This is the family you wish everyone had. They all work dangerous jobs, yes, and they are extremely military, but they are tightly knit and bonded.
While the novella is fairly short, 143 pages on my iPad, I definitely didn’t feel anything was missing. It fully encapsulated this difficult period in an established couple’s lives. If anything, I wish for more information about the past five years and how Bryan was acting. They went through some incredibly stressful things. While the sex between them is smokin’, I loved that they both understood that sex was not the way to reconciliation and it wasn’t enough to solve their problems. That was maturity. Here’s hoping these guys get what they deserve – a happily ever after, forever.