Author ~ Xavier Mayne
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 30th January 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Mystery
State troopers Ethan Brandt and Gabriel Donnelly are finally going to get their storybook wedding—sailing on an ocean liner to a castle in the English countryside! But when an Icelandic volcano scrambles flights all over the world, they must find alternate routes to the altar—separately.
Donnelly meets Sandler Birkin, a globetrotting courier who specializes in carrying rare artifacts and diplomatic pouches. He pulls a few strings to get Donnelly to the ship on time and then accompanies him across the Atlantic. Donnelly returns the favor by helping to find Sandler’s long-lost first love, Trevor Hendricks. Trevor's controlling, homophobic parents have brought him to Europe for a radical treatment to cure him of his homosexuality—and his love for Sandler.
Brandt, meanwhile, finagles his way around the globe with the help of Kerry Mercer, a sales executive whose spirit of adventure leads her to accompany him on his improvised journey. However, sharing hotel rooms with her presents a problem for Brandt who, despite being about to marry a man, still finds her attractive.
Once Brandt and Donnelly are reunited, they band together with Kerry and Sandler to plot Trevor’s rescue. But doing so might mean missing their own wedding.
I adore state troopers Ethan Brandt and Gabriel Donnelly and so couldn’t wait to read this next instalment in their lives, but where to start with this one? Firstly, this is a very long book, the longest by far of the series. It’s like three separate stories but as they’re interwoven they are presented in one book with different chapters being about one of the three stories and the couple at the heart of it.
Brandt and Donnelly are about to get married and have a destination wedding planned in a castle in Devon, England. This is to make up for their previous wedding plans being thrown into disarray. Their involvement in a previous case led to their reception venue cancelling on them. They need to get to New York to board a cruise ship to take them to England to get married. However, with an ash cloud over Iceland and spreading, things unsurprisingly don’t go to plan.
Brandt is speaking at a conference and can’t get home to travel to the ship with Donnelly and so ends up travelling to England, via a few days in Paris, with beautiful pharmaceutical rep Kerry Mercer. Donnelly is at the airport waiting for his flight to New York, which is cancelled and he ends up travelling on the cruise ship with international courier Sandler Birkin and last, but in no case least, the fabulous Bryce and Nestor attempt to get to the wedding in England. Therein we have the three slightly separate stories, with different couples and Brandt and Donnelly aren’t together for the first 65% of this book until they are reunited in Southampton. I always enjoy their interactions with each other and their snarky, sarcastic dialogue and their always deepening romantic relationship, so I couldn’t wait for them to be reunited, but even reunited I would have liked to see more of them together in this long book than we eventually got.
Separately, along the way both men question their sexuality as certain realisations dawn. Brandt realises that although he is in love with Donnelly, he is still sexually attracted to women and Donnelly is introduced to the ‘candy store’ being told he missed out on a crucial part in being gay and going from being ‘straight’ to ‘committed’, he never gave himself permission to look at other men. I had a few nervous wobbles reading these parts of the story, but I think it was necessary for their character development. However, having both worked through some sexuality issues apart, I thought the discussion they had once they were together was all too brief.
There are a couple of other story arcs through the book which I thought were well done and we had the mystery/intrigue element and the troopers in action again which I enjoyed. As always we can rely on Bryce and Nestor to bring the laughs and this was no exception, the trucker they hitchhike with and his heterosexual romance books had me in hysterics as did their antics aboard a private jet.
I’m not going to spoil the ending, so will just let you immerse yourself back in the world of the state troopers and tell you to read it and enjoy being along for this rollercoaster journey of will they or won’t they make it to their wedding on time?
On the whole, I did really enjoy this book, I just wish we could have had more Brandt and Donnelly together, but that might just be me being greedy. If you’re a fan of the series, you won’t want to miss this one and you’ll be clamouring for the next!
Meet Xavier Mayne
By day I work as a writer for a large tech firm in the US Pacific Northwest. By night I'm the author of the Brandt & Donnelly Capers series, as well as standalone works such as Husband Material and The Accidental Cupid. I like to write about men who've always considered themselves straight falling in love with another man. Oh, and I like readers to laugh, not cry. You can now count me among the refugees from academia. I was a professor at a public university in the American midwest for a decade before returning to the high-tech industry. Tenure was nice, but so is getting a paycheck that actually pays the bills! I miss teaching, which is why you'll find vocabulary in my works that you won't find in most romance novels (crenelated! gantlet! obstreperous!) because if you can expand minds while exciting the senses, why not?