Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Deacon Reid was born bad to the bone with no intention of changing. A lifetime of law-bending and living on the edge suits him just fine—until his baby sister dies and he finds himself raising her little girl.
Staring down a family history of bad decisions and reaped consequences, Deacon cashes in everything he owns, purchases an auto shop in Half Moon Bay, and takes his niece, Zig, far away from the drug dens and murderous streets they grew up on. Zig deserves a better life than what he had, and Deacon is determined to give it to her.
Lang Harris is stunned when Zig, a little girl in combat boots and a purple tutu, blows into his bookstore, and then he’s left speechless when her uncle, Deacon Reid, walks in hot on her heels. Lang always played it safe, but Deacon tempts him to step over the line… just a little bit.
More than a little bit. And Lang is willing to be tempted.
Unfortunately, Zig isn’t the only bit of chaos dropped into Half Moon Bay. Violence and death strike, leaving Deacon scrambling to fight off a killer before he loses not only Zig but Lang too.
Deacon Reid arrives in Half Moon Bay hauling all his worldly belongings and his niece, Zig, an eight-year-old spitfire who uses up all her allowance putting quarters in a jar for the curse words she uses. Deacon has purchased an auto repair shop, and it’s here he plans to put down roots and raise his sister’s child, an orphan since her mom was killed almost two years before. It took Deacon that long to get custody of the girl through the California court system. Thankfully his record has been clean since a stint he did for buying stolen auto parts when he was younger. But he’s hard-pressed to figure out how to be adult enough to raise a child, especially a child who curses like a Stormtrooper.
Lang Harris is the owner of the bookshop across the road and the rest of the strip mall Deacon’s new business is located in. When the little spitfire dressed in combat boots, camo pants and a tutu bounces into his shop and claims his cat as her friend, his heart is warmed, but when he looks up into the eyes of her uncle Deacon, it’s set on fire, and he loses it then and there.
Lang’s been recuperating emotionally and physically since his last relationship broke up in a spectacular way—his boyfriend, Daniel, tried to kill him and nearly succeeded, so Lang’s been hiding from any attempts to get close to people since then. But Zig and her sexy uncle seem to be just what he needs to learn to live again.
Unfortunately, as the story blurb says, more chaos than Zig comes to Half Moon Bay. First, there’s a drive-by shooting outside of Deke’s shop, injuring one of his mechanics and grazing both Zig and Deke. Then a body is discovered after an arson fire rips through the strip mall where Deke’s shop is located. It’s becoming more evident that Deke is the target, but the question is why? Could it be Daniel, whom Lang has just discovered has been released from prison, or could it be someone from Deke’s past? After a body is found in the rubble from the fire, it’s time to take evasive action.
Rhys Ford has the most beautifully descriptive prose I’ve ever read. I always feel as if I’m on the scene, so much so, that I swear I could smell the smoke of the fire in this one. Her characters are three-dimensional “real” people, the situations extreme but reality-based, and secondary characters are engaging and endearing. I would surely love to meet Zig! And I wouldn’t mind spending some time with Lang and Deke as well, that’s for sure. The resolution to the mystery was not what I had expected, and that’s good. I don’t like an easily solvable mystery. And the happy ending? It’s there and it’s perfect.
Where do the fish sticks fit in? Well, after a hard week of work and school, Deke and Zig treat themselves to their favorite meal—fish sticks—though Lang might have something to say about fish disguising itself in that way!
I highly recommend this MM romance to all lovers of contemporary stories with damaged heroes, stories of men with children, hurt-comfort, and, of course, mystery thrillers.