Title: Mexican Heat
Authors: Laura Baumbach and Josh Lanyon
Genre: crime/action-adventure, romantic contemporary, GLBT (M/M)
Length: novel (244 pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5 DIK
Tough, street-smart SFPD Detective Gabriel Sandalini is willing to do whatever it takes to bring down West Coast crime boss Ricco Botelli — including a dangerous, deep undercover gig as one of Botelli’s hired guns. But Gabriel’s best laid plans may come crashing down around him when he falls hard for the sexy, suave lieutenant of a rival Mexican drug lord. Turns out his new love interest may have a few secrets of his own: secrets that could destroy both men and the fragile bond between them.
Gabriel Sandalini had been waiting in Club Madrone for his snitch to show up when he saw him — tall, polished, very handsome — trouble personified, the kind of man Gabriel had always avoided because of what he represented; he was not into relationships, and this man could make him rethink his personal philosophy. Later that evening Gabriel is caught in a private area of the club by Miguel Ortega, the same man he had been staring at earlier. However, Miguel wasn’t going to kill him, he had a different goal in mind which became crystal clear as he overpowered Gabriel, made love to him and dissolved his mind AND his body.
A few days later Gabriel appreciated how much more dangerous his job had become when his boss’s new partner, Don Jesus Sanchez arrived, accompanied by his lieutenant, none other than Miguel. It soon became obvious that the power play between the two drug lords could have a major negative impact on Gabriel’s increasingly tenuous and uncertain future. Ricco Botelli, Gabriel’s boss, is anxious to marry off his sister Gina to Don Sanchez to seal their partnership but Gina can’t keep her hands off Gabriel which angers both her brother and Sanchez, a complication that could seal his fate. In the meantime, despite being on different sides of the drug buy that Gabriel hopes will bring the cartel down, the attraction between him and Miguel grows exponentially. Simultaneously, Gabriel’s value to Botelli declines at an alarming rate, making it abundantly clear that he should look for another line of work immediately. In the end everything comes to a head suddenly with disastrous results, changing the life of one of the characters forever.
Laura Baumbach and Josh Lanyon have written a powerful, multifaceted story that illustrates their undoubted skill as writers and demonstrates why their books are so highly regarded. Their blended “voice” is unique and new and although there are elements of their individual writing style, highlighted by the wonderful prose in this book, Mexican Heat is completely different from anything either author has published before.
What impressed me most about the story were the two exquisitely crafted, very complex characters, Gabriel Sandalini and Miguel Ortega, those tough hombres whose secrets could get them killed but who were only vulnerable to each other. The secondary characters — Gina, the two mob bosses as well as their henchmen and various others were so well drawn that they appeared to be real and three dimensional. Kudos to the authors for such wonderful portrayals. The plot is complicated and the pacing moves the story along at breakneck speed during the intense action segments and then slows in a smooth transition to the more emotional sequences in the latter half of the book.
This book has everything – excitement from the first page which grabs you by the throat and never lets up, outstanding characterizations, action sequences that would satisfy any aficionado of the crime and action-adventure genre, enormous conflict and tension, emotional trauma and some of the best sex scenes I have read in a while. The sex was exceptional; it did not overpower the story but without a doubt this book had some of the longest, most erotic, sensuous and hottest lovemaking sequences that I ever had the pleasure of reading. If you don’t buy another book this year, Mexican Heat must be on your “to buy” list – you will kick yourself if you don’t get it. It’s an amazing and thrilling ride with an ending that blew me away.
One last comment. I now understand what’s behind the name of the book and the reason why it’s called the Crimes and Cocktails series. I never knew there were so many different ways that cocktails or any other alcoholic drink for that matter, could be used for sex. It took a lot of ingenuity to come up with some of the drinking sequences and it would be interesting to find out who carried out the research and did they use live subjects!