The romance in this novella is about an established couple, Mitch and Clay, facing relationship troubles. Their story is embedded in a suspense plot about a serial killer, which makes for a well-balanced romantic suspense. But unfortunately, due to the story’s shorter length, neither romance nor suspense arc have much depth.Trace EvidenceTorquere Press | March 6, 2013 | 99 pages
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Mitch is a police detective with a life that should be smooth sailing; unfortunately, his boyfriend is getting on his nerves, he has a murder to solve, and he has a mysterious stranger telling him details no one but the killer could know. Can Mitch make sense of the chaos before the killer chooses another victim?
Originally published in To Protect and Serve.
Genre & Keywords: Contemporary Romance, M/M, Romantic Suspense, Murder Investigation, Psychic, Serial Killer, Established Couple
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1.5 out of 3 flames
The story opens with police detective Mitch and his partner Leo, finding the body of a murdered girl in the park. They have nothing to go on to find the murderer; no evidence, no witnesses, no suspects. Then Nick Kelley - a character from the Laying A Ghost series from Alexa Snow collaborating with Jane Davitt - walks into their precinct and offers his help. He's a psychic and has the ability to talk to the ghost of the victim. At first Leo and Mitch don't believe him and throw him out but later Mitch and Nick discover some new clues together. During their intense investigation of the scene where the body was found, they share a kiss, which Nick ends with the advice for Mitch to go home and fix things with his boyfriend.
The night before, things between Mitch and Clay turned nasty after a fight. They broke up but it was not what Mitch wanted. However, he has no idea how to make it all better, because he felt annoyed with Clay for a while now. Basically, Mitch is an asshole who refuses to talk and walks out on his boyfriend every time he’s getting on his nerves. It never becomes clear why he feels about Clay this way. So, it’s not easy to understand, let alone like, Mitch’s behavior, as a reader, due to that lack of insight in his character.
After the event with Nick and the subsequent discoveries in the murder case, Mitch suddenly realizes that he could’ve lost Clay to the serial killer. He finally goes home, apologizes for his behavior and makes up with Clay, but it still doesn’t become clear to me why he behaved like he did. And neither what was changed now that makes him believe that everything is all right again between him and Clay. I could've done with a little more depth and explanations to understand the romance developments better, and to make them more believable.
For the murder investigation I could say the same. It’s a decent suspense arc, but it lacks a bit of depth as well. The investigation is not very complex and leans heavily on the help from Nick Kelley. His involvement was actually one of the most interesting aspects of the plot. The murderer is caught easily but not without some thriller-like action. Also, the role of the dog in this wrap-up is very cute. I love animals in my romances.
Overall, this was an enjoyable story that suffered a bit from its short length but was still a rather engaging read. It’s a comforting read for in between longer and more angsty stories, to keep you company for a few hours on a cold, rainy night.