Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.
Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife.
For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.
When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.
This story was a lifesaver for me. I have some crazies going on in my life right now, and I was able to escape with Rook and Dante due to the very talented writing of Rhys Ford which took me away from the daily grind for a few wonderful hours.
Rook’s in trouble again—through no fault of his own—well…maybe a little. He’s breaking into his cousin Harold’s mansion to take back a replica of a Maltese Falcon statue that he won at auction and Harold managed to swipe under his nose by having it delivered to his home instead. Now, armed with the key codes to the mansion—due to the encouragement of Harold’s estranged wife—Rook chooses to use his old B&E tools, though he hasn’t used them “professionally” since he became cop Dante Montoya’s lover.
What he finds is a dead Harold and the murderer on premises and willing to kill Rook. He barely escapes with his life but falls into the hands of Detective Vicks, a cop who seems to have it in for him and for his lover, Dante, whose former partner, a dirty cop, was apparently a friend of Vicks’s. As the mystery unfolds, it becomes more and more evident that multiple hands are in the pie and all the chaos seems to center around Rook. Even when he appears to be an innocent bystander caught in the crosshairs of someone shooting at the cop he’s talking to, it’s evident to Dante that Rook is at the heart of the mystery, somehow. Nearly losing his life that time, Dante is beside himself while trying to solve the mystery and keep his lover safe.
There are many tender and emotional moments in this one—poignantly beautiful love scenes, heartbreaking confessions of need, a scene in which all Rook’s fears of loss and abandonment come to a head from something his grandfather says in anger, and the scene that deeply touched me most when Dante offers Rook comfort as Rook cries on his shoulder. Rook realizes that he can’t live without his damned cop, because he can be himself with Dante—Dante is safe and Rook has never really had that before. Rhys Ford allows the characters to express their emotions in their own way and in their own time and coaches them to do it so well readers will have no doubt this couple is solid.
The ending allows for additional books in the series, though our couple is together and looking toward the future. Count me among those who want more of Rook and Dante as they are climbing the ladder toward the top of my favorite couples list. If you enjoy a well-written, contemporary mystery/action/adventure, try this series. The book can actually be read as a standalone, though readers will benefit from reading the original in the series: Murder and Mayhem in which Rook and Dante first hook up and Rook, the cat burgler, becomes a law-abiding citizen for his cop, Dante. I highly recommend this one.