Title ~ Double Down (Doubleback #2)
Author ~ Lissa Ford
Published ~ 26th June 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
After surviving a deadly attack by a psychopathic killer, homicide detective Rowan Muir is ready to take his relationship with ex-deputy sheriff and former ex-boyfriend Jude Anderson to the next level. Trouble is, Jude is happy with going slow. As in glacial. And, fair enough, their previous attempt as a couple wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. It took murder and the volcanic attraction between them for both men to set old grievances aside and try once more.
But the past rears its ugly head again when Rowan’s drug-addicted brother goes missing. Rowan is summoned home and is immediately mired in family dysfunction better seen in a rear-view mirror. When Jude agrees to help Rowan investigate his stepbrother’s disappearance, Rowan fears his fragile relationship with Jude won’t survive the stress.
Being back in his hometown dredges up old fears, a lot of baggage, and murder allegations. Soon Rowan has to decide if he is going to double down on his relationship with Jude, or if it’s wiser to pick up his chips and split for good.
This story picks up six weeks after the events of Doubleback, which you really should read before jumping into this book. I enjoyed the first story and liked this one even better. Rowan is still on furlough from his job while healing from his injuries and is spending much of that time with Jude, rebuilding their relationship. When Ro’s stepmother calls him out of the blue asking for help finding Shane, the junkie stepbrother that tormented him as a child, Ro refuses her, but Jude pushes him to help, resulting in a return to the small town Ro left at eighteen and all the ghosts and drama he hoped he’d left behind for good.
While the first story focused on more on Jude, here we learn a lot about Rowan and see just how deeply he was scarred by childhood events, especially the loss of his parents, and how much guilt he has carried with him. The moment Jude and Ro are in the presence of Ro’s stepmother, you really feel for what Ro went through and how miserable he was after his father died.
This book builds on the relationship that was cobbled back together in the first story. I love the connection between the two men and seeing how protective Jude is towards Ro, whether he wants it or not. After a year apart they know that they want to be together, they just are not sure how to go about it. Jude’s “one day at a time” approach to their relationship has Ro believing he has to lock down his deepening feelings and that Jude wants to keep things casual. Since we have the inner dialogues of both men this time, we know that each is falling deeper for the other yet they are both afraid that verbalizing that feeling will send the other running and once again tear them apart. So how do they deal? Jude’s method is screwing Rowan senseless and then getting him to agree to things when he is in no state to argue. Ro bottles everything inside and eventually just shuts down and then runs.
There are a couple of really well written secondary characters involved in both the mystery of Shane’s disappearance and Ro’s past. Sunny is a piece of work, harping on Ro and glorifying her son who was always on drugs, lying and stealing from anywhere he could to support the habit. Harlan, Ro’s high school lacrosse coach who became a surrogate father to him and who Ro believes he disappointed and shamed, knows Ro well and offers insight into his struggles. While the new relationship is harshly tested, Jude’s protective instincts are in high gear during this trip, no matter how Ro tries to push him away Jude is not going anywhere without him. The mystery of Shane’s disappearance is well done. I didn’t really know what to expect between Sunny’s unreliable statements as to Shane’s turning his life around and the reality of his past behaviors.
This second book kicked the emotion up to high gear and although there were plenty of bumps and miscommunications along the way, each man finally lays everything on the line. The sex was just as hot as the first one and the men still have some great banter. I am really invested in Jude and Rowan now and the story ends with the men in a stronger relationship than ever and both have faced their big demons, but there are still potential pitfalls ahead, including Rowan having yet to fully come out and return to work. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.