I had been looking forward to this second book in Ford's Sinners series. Very much so. Maybe that's why I'm a bit disappointed by it. It's probably a classic case of my own too high expectations, but I wasn't as overwhelmed and amazed by it as I was with the first book, Sinner's Gin, and the books in the Cole McGinnis series. Whiskey and Wry is still a good read, don't get me wrong, but for me it felt a bit too much like 'more of the same'.Rhys FordWhiskey and Wry (Sinners #2)Dreamspinner Press | August 19, 2013 | 254 pages
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He was dead. And it was murder most foul. If erasing a man’s existence could even be called murder.
When Damien Mitchell wakes, he finds himself without a life or a name. The Montana asylum’s doctors tell him he’s delusional and his memories are all lies: he’s really Stephen Thompson, and he’d gone over the edge, obsessing about a rock star who died in a fiery crash. His chance to escape back to his own life comes when his prison burns, but a gunman is waiting for him, determined that neither Stephen Thompson nor Damien Mitchell will escape.
With the assassin on his tail, Damien flees to the City by the Bay, but keeping a low profile is the only way he’ll survive as he searches San Francisco for his best friend, Miki St. John. Falling back on what kept him fed before he made it big, Damien sings for his supper outside Finnegan’s, an Irish pub on the pier, and he soon falls in with the owner, Sionn Murphy. Damien doesn’t need a complication like Sionn, and to make matters worse, the gunman—who doesn’t mind going through Sionn or anyone else if that’s what it takes kill Damien—shows up to finish what he started.
Genre & Keywords: Contemporary Romance, M/M, Suspense, Serial Killer, Musician, Abusive Youth
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames
It follows the same patterns as the first book in the series, partly because two of the main characters in both books - Miki and Damien - are very much alike, are both damaged men and are going through a similar emotional process of recovery while in the meantime they are being targeted by a killer. Additionally, their love interests in both books - Kane and Sionn - are not that different from each other either: they are in fact cousins, and one of them is a cop and the other a former bodyguard, both with strong protective instincts.
Also, both books have a serial killer and the same sort of suspension, with a bloody climactic scene near the end of the book. Not changed either is the warm Morgan family that became Miki's substitute family in the first book and now Damien's in this second book. Other elements also return in this novel, like the fragments from songs and notebooks at the beginning of every chapter. Maybe I just read the two books too close after another, I don't know, but the similarities became too obvious for me to be able to ignore them, and instead they started bothering me a little bit.
Apart from that all, Whiskey and Wry is still a heartbreaking story that I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on, simply because of Ford's entertaining way of telling a story and her fabulous writing style. Also, Damien is one of her unforgettable characters that just crawl under your skin and make your heart bleed with empathy for him. His and Sionn's coupling is an interesting and engaging one. They have plenty of chemistry that I enjoyed seeing combust during their sexy times. The build-up of their relationship is slow yet intense. Paradoxically they fall in deep love rather quickly.
Damien's music - which is a large part of who he is, of what he breathes - adds to the intensity of the story, of his character. He's a complex hero with many layers, more so than Sionn, although both are three-dimensional heroes. However, Sionn's kept a bit in Damien's shadow, with Damien being such a colorful and intense character. I would've liked it if we'd seen more of Sionn's personality too: for example, he had some issues to overcome himself, with a former job gone wrong, but this stayed slightly under-exposed.
As a complete Miki & Kane fan I couldn't have been happier than to see so much from this Sinner's Gin couple again in Whiskey and Wry. It's one of the best aspects of reading a series, even if it's a series with a new couple in every book, as long as the author gives us cameos like we get here. Ford gives them plenty of screen time too and I loved every minute of it. However, in the light of the balance of the plot I felt that maybe Damien and Sionn's romance arc got a bit snowed under by other plot lines that took up quite some space, like Miki and Kane (or also Miki and Damien) scenes, and quite elaborate scenes from the killer's point of view as well. I must admit that I'm never a big fan of a third point of view in my romance novels (besides those of the two heroes), especially not those of a villain, so I wasn't too thrilled about it here either. These scenes weren't badly written, not at all, I just thought I'd rather read more about Sionn and Damien together than about the killer's thoughts. On top of that, I found the killer's behavior becoming incredible towards the end, turning from a professional hit man into a psychopathic serial killer. I'm not sure what that was all about, other than that it was rather convenient for the suspense arc.
Overall, Whiskey and Wry was a great read, were it not that its patterns became a bit predictable. Its fabulous and engrossing way of story telling still makes it an above average romance novel. With Damien and Sionn the author added another memorable couple to her oeuvre, and with Damien a hero that has settled his place in my heart. This author's voice has become one of my favorites over the past months and this new addition only confirms that position.