Author: Ethan Stone
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/09/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Gay, Mystery/Thriller, Romance, Thriller
A serial killer known as the Confessor is kidnapping and torturing gay men, and Reno Police Department Evidence Technician Leif Carson is determined to catch him.
His personal life isn’t any less stressful. Despite being a virgin and having zero experience with men, he can’t stop thinking about his best friend’s ex, Rafe Castillo. Rafe is suffering from PTSD, but that doesn’t stop Leif from wanting to be with him.
Complete opposites, they’re an amazing fit once they do get together—until Rafe’s PTSD gets in the way and he walks away from the relationship before it has a chance to truly blossom. Even though he has intense feelings for the man, Leif has no choice but to let him go.
When the Confessor kidnaps Rafe, Leif does everything possible to locate him before he’s murdered. Rafe’s near-death experience changes him profoundly, but the danger isn’t over yet. Leif and Rafe will have to face pure evil together if they’re going to last.
This book is the first in a new series, but also a spin-off from the previously published „Flesh“ series. If you’ve been folllowing this author’s work, you’ll meet many familiar faces here: Cristian and Colby, Gabe and Drew, Jeremy and Kipp… since knowledge of their backstory is pretty much assumed as a given, I’d advise against reading this book as a standalone.
The main character of this book is Leif who works in a crime lab. He’s more of a behind-the-scenes guy, very confident in his ability to connect the dots professionally, but at the same time very insecure about his effect on other men. Which is why he’s still a virgin, a fact that his friends love to tease him about. As the 1st person POV narrator, I got to know him pretty well and could relate to the attitude changes he went through over the course of the story.
Rafe, whom we only get to see through Leif’s eyes, remained more of a mystery to me; in fact, I found him rather difficult to relate to. We’re told the reason for his excessive drinking and fucking around is PTSD, but that still left a lot of questions open for me. For that reason, I found his reaction to a perceived slight over the top dramatic, much like his reconciliation with Leif.
The mystery part of the book grabbed me right from the beginning. The police procedures read realistic to me, with just the right touch of TV crime series exorbitance to keep things interesting. I’m outing myself as a CSI and NCIS fan here, so it’s not surprising that I loved looking over Leif’s shoulder. And I liked watching how Leif and Cristian evolved from distant work acquaintances to real friends.
By contrast, the romance between Leif and Rafe read somewhat contrived, mostly because Rafe’s behavior struck me as rather erratic. Nevertheless, their chemistry is hot and they made a good couple in the end.
All in all, I’d consider this book a must-read for fans of the author. For anybody else, if you like a good mystery and if you can take a bit of missing backstory, you might want to give this a try.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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