Rhys FordSinner’s GinDreamspinner Press, December 24, 2012 | 260 pages
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There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.
After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.
Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.
Genre & Keywords: M/M Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Murder, Violence, Music, Loss, Abuse, Family, Cop, Singer
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
This is a touching story about a damaged hero finding a reason to love again. As such it’s pretty emotional at times, yet it has plenty of wonderfully sweet and humorous moments as well. Nevertheless, this novel carries quite a few triggers for those who can’t stomach to read about pain, abuse, loss and violence. Just be warned. For lovers of angst, emotions and suspense in their romances, this story has to offer a lot.
Miki and Kane are a hot couple once they get together. At first, they take it slow and keep their attraction in check, since Miki is a possible suspect in Kane’s murder investigation. I liked it that the murder case is not how Kane and Miki met (they meet thanks to a cute dog before the first murder takes place), and I also was content with the development of their relationship in relation to the investigation. It is first established that Miki was not a real suspect before they act on their attraction beyond the point of no return. I also liked it a lot that the romantic arc takes front seat and the suspense arc back seat.
In general, the suspense arc is done pretty well, I didn’t know the outcome long before the ending, and its wrap-up was quite unexpected. However, I felt that it lacked a bit of real investigation work, Kane was not working very hard on solving the mystery at all. And in the end it all came down to a rather convenient coincidence that they caught the murderer eventually. Also, the suspense arc contained a lot of abuse and violence partly stemming from Miki’s past, partly in the here and now. It was quite a lot to stomach. And let's not even start about the credibility of the motives for the murders. For me, this was not the strongest part of the plot.
The characterization of the MCs however is excellently done. Especially Miki is a layered character and his development is rather interesting. Despite his hard life, all his losses and the abuse he’s suffered, he still has a sweet and dark sense of humor and a lightness to him that make him an interesting character. Kane’s fascinated by him and his fascination soon turns into admiration and tenderness for Miki. They are not only a good match emotionally, but they also have a great chemistry. The sex scenes are intimate yet erotic, and convey their growing mental connection. Added bonus was the presence of quite an interesting supporting cast, like Miki’s agent and Kane’s partner and his family. They all are solid secondary characters of which I wanted to see more.
One thing that can’t be left unmentioned is the ending. Ford drops a major bomb on the last page of the novel, which had me gasping a little in astonishment. Don’t worry, the bomb has nothing to do with Miki and Kane’s HEA, which still is as happy as can be, but it will affect one of them emotionally, I’m sure. The only thing we can do now is wait for the second book in this series, to see what will happen. Its release can’t come soon enough for me!