Title: Ticket to Ride
Author: Shawn Lane
Publisher: JMS Books
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M, murder mystery
Length: Novella (22k words)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
Chad Storm’s longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend has a ticket to ride on a plane to Maryland and out of Chad’s life for good. But someone decides on a more permanent end to their relationship. Former lead singer of the rock band, Lightning, Chad is working on his comeback album when he finds the body of his murdered ex-lover floating in his swimming pool.
Lieutenant Jack Reeves, from the homicide division, has never heard of Lightning, but now he has a gruesome murder to solve. The more he learns of Chad, the more intrigued he becomes, and his protective instincts kick in when Chad begins to receive strange phone calls—from the dead man.
Jack doesn’t believe in ghosts and knows someone is trying to mess with Chad, leading him to think someone close to the singer could have murderous intentions. But his attraction to Chad takes him off the investigation.
Drawn to each other, Chad and Jack begin a steamy affair, and that brings the ruthless killer out of hiding…
This is one of a series of books that are titled after famous songs. However, the story doesn’t have anything to do with the Beatles, nor is there any reference to the song “Ticket to Ride” in the book. Just saying…
This is the sort of book that if I let myself be bothered, it would be driving me wicked up the wall. It has all the things that aggravate me: inconsistencies, a mystery that isn’t very mysterious, too much plot crammed into too few words. But for some reason, it didn’t bug me as much as it could have and I find I can honestly give it a four star rating. In trying to analyze why I didn’t end up irritated, I think it is because I really enjoyed the two main characters, Chad and Jack, and their appeal overrode the annoying stuff.
The story is straightforward and predictable. Has-been rock star is working on a comeback album when he finds the body of his ex-lover floating in the pool. Handsome, rugged homicide detective is immediately attracted to the prime suspect, who, despite years of drugs and life on the road, has managed to retain his golden-boy good looks. Even though they both know it’s a very bad idea, they embark on an affair which very quickly moves from lust to love. Things happen, the murderer is revealed, and the reader is left with a promise of HEA, or at least HFN, for lovers Chad and Jack.
Now, let’s get the annoying parts out of the way. Like I said above, the mystery part of the story is pretty obvious so there wasn’t a whole lot of suspense about “whodunit.” Second, if you are a fan of gritty, realistic police procedurals then you would be wise to skip this book lest you end up throwing it across the room. Third, there are lots of inconsistencies. For example, early in the book, a character makes himself a drink from a bottle of liquor in the cabinet. Later, when Jack asks Chad for a drink, Chad tells him the house dry, due to his previous battles with drugs and alcohol. In another section, Jack comments that he’s been out to his family for “a few years”; later, we find out he’s been out to them since he was a teen. Since he’s 43 now, I wouldn’t call three decades “a few years.”
What I did like, however, was the interaction between Chad and Jack and once they got together, there was enough together time to help me overlook the other stuff. They had a very nice, down-to-earth way of talking to each other. Jack never knew Chad as a rock star, so he’s not dazzled by the man—he just likes him as a person. Chad, who has had his life filled with fawning groupies and people who are pretty much out to use him, appreciates Jack’s take-charge persona. Their sexual interaction is interesting, too. Jack has been around the block a few times, and he admits it. Chad has mostly had one lover who treated him poorly; he has a sweet innocence about being with Jack and discovering that sex can be fun, and kind, and gentle—even when Jack gives him a little nip on the butt.
This is a fairly short novella (22k words) and I think that my frustration with the annoying parts was tempered by the fact that the story was over pretty quickly. My overall recommendation: if you are a fan of this author, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you can turn a blind eye to the problems and focus on the main characters, it is worth reading. On the other hand, if you are in the mood for a really good mystery, I’d give Ticket to Ride a pass.