Author ~ J.S. Cook
Narrator ~ K.C. Kelly
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Release ~ 17th February 2017
Length ~ 2 hours and 40 minutes
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Veteran police chief Eli Gallagher doesn't ask for much, but he does insist that his officers uphold the "serve" part of "serve and protect". Conscientious young Deputy Stan Leach takes Eli's moto to heart, maintaining a high standard of personal accountability.
When Eli's long-distance boyfriend, Gilbert Nees, telephones from Philadelphia, Eli thinks he intends to further cement their relationship. Unfortunately, Gilbert's news is anything but good. But Eli doesn't have time to wallow, because a violent act results in murder in the small town of Morristown, Mississippi.
But as Eli and Stan uncover evidence, their personal lives begin to unravel. Stan, working closely with Chief Gallagher, grows increasingly attached to Eli and learns what it really means to be an advocate of justice.
The story itself was unusual in that the romance element between the two main characters doesn't really occur until near the end. For two-thirds of the story they are both with other men and those relationships seem to fizzle out with no further mention of them. Although enjoyable plot points in themselves, they had little bearing on the rest of the story and these characters didn’t reappear. I think their main purpose was to indicate how lonely Stan and Eli were and to show aspects of their backgrounds and personalities.
Apart from a scene near the beginning, Stan and Eli have hardly any time together until the last quarter of the story. They investigate a domestic abuse case, deal with a grisly crime scene and autopsy together, which in turn brings them together sexually and felt a little contrived. Eli declares to Stan not to tell anyone about their hooking up just before they make out, which came across as anything but romantic. I noticed several character inconsistencies and points that didn’t quite make sense. The blurb didn’t really match the plot. There was no real mystery to solve as they knew who the murderer was and he was apprehended easily.
It felt like a chunk of the book had been cut out because there seemed to be little interaction here compared to the detailed events of earlier in the story with their previous partners. There was no real chemistry between Stan and Eli, with only one or two references to finding the other person physically attractive dotted here and there. The epilogue and HEA seemed to come out of the blue without enough time for the reader to see a development in their relationship once it started.
Having said all this, the writing and the events of the story themselves were enjoyable. It was the main romance plot that was a little 'wishy-washy' and needed far more substance and page space.
I chose this audiobook without really reading the blurb purely because I'm a fan of K.C. Kelly's voice and his narration and, as always, he did an excellent job. He paces the story well and portrays emotions and dialogue superbly, although I thought Stan didn’t quite come across as young enough for a twenty-eight-year old.
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