Author: Ethan Stone
Narrator: Tristan James
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Story Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Narration Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Overall Rating: 4.75 of 5 Stars
Release Date: 06/23/2016
Length: 08 hours 48 minutes
Genre: Gay Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Reno Detective Cristian Flesh is an out and unashamed cop, but his slutty ways might be his downfall. Cristian lives by a strict set of personal rules, preferring hook-ups and anonymous encounters to committed relationships. His guidelines work for him… until one of his tricks is murdered and he becomes the prime suspect.
Leave it to handsome lawyer Colby Maddox to save Cristian’s life. He takes the case and the attraction between them is quick and undeniable. After several passion-filled encounters with Colby, Cristian unexpectedly wants to break all his rules. However, before they can contemplate a future together, they’ll have to clear Cristian’s name and find the real murderer.
1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, August 2010.
In the Flesh is one of those books I return to time and again — whenever I need a good mystery with lovable characters with a bit of an edge. I have nothing more to say about this book that I haven’t said before. However, listening to it with Tristan James narrating brought another dimension to an already loved novel. I have previously reviewed this title for Prism. That review appears below.
Rule 6… There is no Rule 6 – Monty Python
I sometimes find it difficult to review books I love, books I have read over and over again. It has been so long since I first read In the Flesh by Ethan Stone. As Such, I could not for the life of me tell you why I fell in love with the titles back then. Sadly, I rated it but didn’t review it. I am now correcting that egregious oversight.
Cristian Flesh isn’t your typical hero. He isn’t a character you are going to fall in love with. He isn’t a character you are going to look at and think “he needs his happily ever after.” In all actuality, he is a bit of an asshole. Okay, more than a bit. He is egotistical, unapologetically promiscuous, aggressive, and broken. He just doesn’t want anyone to know that last part. He is also damn good at what he does, even if he blurs the lines of acceptability to get the job done.
Enter his foil, Colby. He is magnanimous, confident, well-off, and deep in the closet. He is also damn good at his job. He makes Cristian want to break the rules he has used to keep himself and his heart safe. Rules that are based in song lyrics and the teachings/warnings of his father. They help keep everyone at arms length and his heart out of every sexual encounters and interpersonal relationship, both business and personal.
Together they have to solve a murder and clear Cristian’s name. Despite being taken off the case, Cristian can’t leave things well enough alone. He has to push the envelope and Colby, along the way, in order to find whodunit.
Cristian Flesh is an enigma. Even at the end of the book he remains one to both Colby and the reader. This is by design. It is rule number six as a matter of fact.
I don’t talk about my past.
First and foremost, In the Flesh, is a mystery. It incorporates elements of homophobic religious dogma, unsavory public figures, mysterious murders, dirty cops, and two alpha males trying to solve it all. Along the way, Cristian learns to open his heart just a little. I think the character and growth of Cristian are as important or more important that the mystery, but the mystery itself leads the way.
One thing I appreciate about Ethan Stone’s characters is that he tries to go against type. In the case of In the Flesh, Colby is black. Not African-American (he “wasn’t born in Africa.”) He is not oppressed. He is not discriminated against for his skin color. He is rich. He is successful. He is professional. On the other hand, Cristian is a big, burly, broken, white cop with a shaved head and a huge heart (even if he won’t admit it). He is also total bottom-boy.
This read-through was my 4th time to enter into Cristian Flesh’s world. However, it is my first time to read the second edition. There aren’t a lot of changes from the first edition, some editing/proofreading and that gorgeous new Aaron Anderson cover. The most drastic changes will come in the second edition of Gabe’s story Blood and Tears (book 3).
Tristan James has a voice that lends itself to Christian Flesh. Deep, Sultry, edgy, but with a bit of softness. A bit of vulnerability. I will admit that I actually told the author I thought Tristan James would be perfect for this audiobook. Glad to know I was right!
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the audiobook of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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