Author: Bailey Queen
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Bailey Queen
Rating: 3.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/13/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery, Thriller
Murder in the country.
A one-night-stand that refuses to end.
Ghosts from the past that return to haunt.
Special Agent Ben Diggs can’t stand what has become of his life, so much so that he hits the road one night, maybe to crash his bike, maybe to drive off into the night and never be heard from again. But he meets Tanner Bagley, a rancher from rural Pennsylvania in a hick dive bar, and sparks fly. For the first time since everything went to hell, he feels alive again.
Ben runs from his emotions as a rule, and he flees in the middle of the night, trudging back to his dreary life in Baltimore and his failing job as an FBI agent. But then he’s assigned with his team to investigate a murder in that same backwater township in Pennsylvania where he met Tanner, and it’s a different set of sparks that fly when he has to face Tanner again.
As the bodies start to pile up, tensions flare, and Ben is stuck between teammates that question his every move and a devastatingly handsome rancher whose heart he bruised. The lies keep piling up, and Ben is forced to stake his career – and his very life – on the trembling hopes of his wounded heart.
Deep in the countryside, someone is hunting gay men in Middle Creek, Pennsylvania… Gay men all with ties to Special Agent Diggs’ one-night-stand…
*** This novel is intended for mature audiences only and contains romantic and sexual material, including male/male romance and sexual situations, and is suitable only for audiences who have attained the age of legal majority. ***
This is one of those rare occasions where a three star rating doesn’t mean ‘meh’ or mediocre. I’m rating it so reluctantly because there was a lot about the book I loved. However, there were just so many things wrong I had to lower my rating. Otherwise it would’ve been a four star or higher.
The plot centers around FBI Agent Ben Diggs being assigned to lead a murder investigation in a rural Pennsylvania town when a gay man is found murdered and more deaths are expected. It also happens to be the same town Ben had visited shortly before and had a hot hook-up with a local man. As coincidence would have it, of course, the victim is the ex-boyfriend of Tanner Bagley, the man Ben fucked, then snuck out of the hotel room without even a good-bye.
It’s not an original trope, a law enforcement officer being forced to work with a man he’d had a one night stand with, but with a talented author it can seem fresh. Queen has the chops to pull it off but didn’t do it here, instead relying on easy coincidences to propel the plot.
I did like both main characters, they were both strong and well-defined. Their banter and sexual chemistry was enjoyable and I liked seeing them together. The supporting characters weren’t as realistic and were more cliché and cardboard than folks I could imagine running into in real life.
The murder mystery was also well-plotted and unique, with twists I haven’t seen often. I did figure out the whodunit early on, but I don’t rate a book down for that, I read so many mysteries that I can usually spot the clues dropped by the author. While I did guess who the killer was, I didn’t figure out his motive until he revealed it, which was a pleasant change of pace.
Now for the bad parts of the plot, which brought down my enjoyment a great deal.
First up were the sex scenes which were often written in purplish prose and contained things that just wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, happen in real life.
When Ben and Tanner get their together for the one-night stand at the hotel Tanner has condoms but neither has lube, so instead they rely on the hotel’s cheap lotion. The first issue I have with that is that if Tanner was hopeful enough to have brought condoms he probably would’ve brought lube as well, or at least lubricated rubbers. The second issue is that any gay man knows not to use oil-based products, like lotion, on latex condoms because it weakens them and can cause them to tear. A little bit of research by the author could’ve easily fixed this problem. Lots of gay men carry around small tubes of lubricant or one-time use packets for just such encounters.
There was also some totally eye-roll worthy sex talk.
“You’re going to cum without touching your cock.” Tanner’s hands grabbed Ben’s ass, and he took over the rhythm, the pounding. “I’m going to give you that cum.”
“Cum inside me. Cum in me. With me. I’m going to cum on just your cock.”
That quote gets marks for being purple prose, unrealistic and redundant.
The use of some one of my least favorite terms marred my enjoyment of the sex scenes—quivering hole. It’s right up there with rosebud as terms that should never be used for that part of the body.
Additionally, the use of the term ‘burning cum’ isn’t a pleasant one. I don’t think cum should ever burn unless you have an STD or are a lava monster.
Though the author got some information right, such as when Ben ate Taco Bell and knew he wasn’t going to bottom that night, there was also some rather unrealistic dialogue.
“You left, Ben. I can’t even begin to explain how awful that was. How rude, how thoughtless. How despicable. How that made me feel.”
Just isn’t how men, or really anyone, talks. It’s verbiage that’s more than a little overdramatic.
There were also times the dialogue was repetitive and the author could’ve tightened things up.
“It can’t be good, Tanner.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Ditkins is wound up. It can’t be good in there.”
Why did he say twice that it couldn’t be good? I think a strong editor would’ve made this story a great deal better.
The climactic scene at the end was action-packed and well-written for the most part. However there were a couple of unbelievable plot holes such as the killer getting his hands on Ben’s gun. What kind of agent allows that to happen?
I hate disparaging the book as much as I did, but overall I did enjoy it. I think lots of readers would enjoy, they just might need to go into it knowing the issues exist.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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