Title ~ Absinthe of Malice (Sinners Series Book Five)
Author ~ Rhys Ford
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 22nd June 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Sequel to Sloe Ride
Sinners Series: Book Five
We’re getting the band back together.
Those six words send a chill down Miki St. John’s spine, especially when they’re spoken with a nearly religious fervor by his brother-in-all-but-blood, Damien Mitchell. However, those words were nothing compared to what Damien says next.
And we’re going on tour.
When Crossroads Gin hits the road, Damien hopes it will draw them closer together. There’s something magical about being on tour, especially when traveling in a van with no roadies, managers, or lovers to act as a buffer. The band is already close, but Damien knows they can be more—brothers of sorts, bound not only by familial ties but by their intense love for music.
As they travel from gig to gig, the band is haunted by past mistakes and personal demons, but they forge on. For Miki, Damie, Forest, and Rafe, the stage is where they all truly come alive, and the music they play is as important to them as the air they breathe.
But those demons and troubles won’t leave them alone, and with every mile under their belts, the band faces its greatest challenge—overcoming their deepest flaws and not killing one another along the way.
Rhys Ford has just published the latest in her iconic “Sinners” series, a story of boys in a rock band, boys who grew up together, who were family before they were a band. They survive getting signed, hit records and national tours until a moment of tragedy when the band is destroyed in a fatal car crash. Yes, there were survivors, but they were too damaged to continue making music.
The Estimable Ms. Ford didn’t waste the interim, while the survivors went home to lick their wounds. They form brilliant relationships, more than one of them with the estimable Morgan clan, the sons of Brigid and Donal. Miki hooked up, a while ago, with Kane, his protector, his rock. Damien was locked in an insane asylum by his parents when everyone thought he died in the crash. Damien and Miki are two halves of one musical soul. Damien also found a Morgan, Sionn, to complete him. The Morgan men were all cops with an occasional fireman thrown in for diversity.
There are also two members new to the band. There is Rafe, whose story is breathtaking: a full-blown rock star in his own right, a multi-millionaire many times over, he blew it all on drugs, booze and casual sex partners. Kicked out of the band he founded, he returns home to deal with building a new life and face the Morgans, who pretty much raised him as their own personal orphan. One of the reasons he had left so suddenly, without goodbyes, is that Rafe had fallen in love with the most vulnerable Morgan of all, an underage kid of astonishing brilliance, but a total lack of social skills. Rafe’s affection was returned in spades by Quinn, a dangerous situation in a household of cops. If they didn’t arrest him for child molesting, Quinn’s brothers would have killed him. Despite being thought to be somewhat “autistic”, Quinn has grown into a renowned and beloved college professor. Rafe knew there was nothing wrong with Quinn. He was the only one who really understood the boy-turned-professor, now a man who had been waiting for years for Rafe to return for him. Finally, with the approval of the Morgan family, the two are a couple, with Quinn working hard to save Rafe from himself.
The last and newest member of the Morgan clan is Forest, whose Morgan, Connor, was the cop investigating the murder of Frank, the gentle, unreconstructed Hippie, who got Forest off the streets at a very young age, and taught him to run his café and his music recording studio. Frank was the only father Forest ever knew and the man who unlocked his brilliant musical talent. He’s not a performer. He’s a technician who will play drums for backing tracks, but never stepped out on a stage, himself.
But that is all about to change. Because the four men, with their enormous talent, their extensive personal baggage and the backing of the entire Morgan family, form a new band. They hit the road in a van to rebuild, playing for smaller venues as they get their act together. That means they live in each other’s laps and nod off to the snores of their bandmates. The original band was called “Sinner’s Gin”. The new one is “Crossroads Gin”, a new generation, four musicians at the crossroads, making music because they cannot not make music:
“Because I can tell you there’s nothing like having the music pour out of you and then filling back up again. It’s taking everything you had inside of you and sharing it, like sex only with thousands of people—“
At this point, I had mixed feelings about “Absinthe of Malice”, and not just due to the bad pun that Ms. Ford used to title the book. There was a lot of retrospective, a sort of shorthand version of what came before - readers who have not read the series can read this installment as a stand-alone. On the other hand, it was just so good to be back with my favorite characters, seeing where their lives have led, what their futures may be.
There are, of course, a number of Rhys Ford challenges to make their “little tour” not just difficult, but life-threatening, including one of their early performances in which a madman with a knife took after the patrons, the band, and security alike, without discrimination, not to mention a truck running their van off the road intentionally and all kinds of other mayhem.
I was concerned that Ms. Ford was using “Absinthe of Malice” to give closure to the series, but I was happily reassured when she left so many questions unanswered. That means that she is morally bound to come back and catch us up on whoever’s out to get them, and why.
Any book with the Morgan family, the patriarch, Donal, and his immediate acceptance of his gay children; Bridget, the five-foot-tall spitfire who would personally kill anyone who came after hers; and the hunky, hot, intense and loyal Morgan brothers is a great book in my estimation. Not to mention that it’s nothing less than pure joy to read anything written by Rhys Ford, whose way with a word and a character are almost legendary.
Thanks for bringing the crew back, Ms. Ford. I can’t wait for the next installments.
Pre Order Links
Series Reading Order
Book #1: Sinner’s Gin
Book #2: Whiskey and Wry
Book #5: Absinthe of Malice