The Club at Cool Harbor by Christiane France

The Club at Cool Harbor by Christiane France

Title: The Club at Cool Harbor
Author: Christiane France
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance/Mystery
Length: Novella (100 PDF pages)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Lily

Review Summary

The story of  two private investigators trying to uncover who’s selling secrets while also dealing with broken hearts and painful memories.

This review may contain what could be considered plot spoilers.

BLURB

A year ago, all private investigator Gabe Muller needed to complete his perfect life was the perfect man. Then he met fellow P.I., Raz Reynolds, the man of his dreams. The attraction was mutual, and they made a date for dinner at Raz’s house. When Gabe arrived, he found Raz on the patio having sex with another man. Although literally caught with his pants down, Raz tried to explain that things weren’t at all the way they looked, but Gabe wasn’t buying it. Hurt and disillusioned, he cut off all contact with Raz.

Now, the security firm for which Gabe works is hired by the owner of Le Club, the new all gay males’ resort at Cool Harbor, to stop the leak of highly sensitive, personal information about members’ leisure-time activities. Posing as a waiter, Gabe arrives to investigate and immediately runs into Raz, also there undercover. Although Gabe is working for the owner and Raz for one of the club members, their goal is the same. For this reason, Gabe suggests they temporarily put personal differences aside and share information.

For Raz, it’s the perfect opportunity to try to convince Gabe what he thought he saw a year earlier wasn’t at all what it seemed. When Gabe learns the truth, will he believe Raz, forgive him, and give the man another chance?

REVIEW

Private investigator Gabe Muller is hired to find out who’s spreading rumors about some of the members of Le Club, an exclusive gay resort catering to rich and famous men with a hidden taste for kink. When he arrives he’s shocked to see fellow investigator Raz Reynolds. It’s been a year since the fateful night he caught Raz having sex with another man and the pain is as deep as it was then. Forced to work together to uncover the mole at Le Club will Raz finally get the chance to explain what really happened? When he takes the time to really listen to Raz will Gabe understand and forgive?

I was intrigued by the blurb of this story and was looking forward to reading it however by the end I was disappointed and a bit bored with the book. As the story starts Gabe is beginning a new job at a gay kink club where some of the country’s most famous, and closeted, men went for a good time. Expecting discretion as part of the club services some of the members were instead getting their secrets bandied about. When the PI firm he works for sends him to investigate he’s shocked to see Raz already there. The previous year Raz had broken Gabe’s heart and he’d yet to get over the pain. This plot point is the first reservation I had with the story.

While I’m not a fan of the Big Misunderstanding generally it works well enough for the storyline that it doesn’t put me off too much. In this case the circumstances leading up to the ‘BM’ didn’t make sense to me. Gabe and Raz had only briefly met a couple of times previously and are essentially going on their first date when Gabe walks in on Raz and another man. I can see how that would be upsetting but Gabe’s extreme reaction, including his refusal to listen to Raz’s repeated attempts to explain, and the fact that he’s still hurting over it feel too over the top. If they’d been in a relationship or at least dating for a while I think it would have worked better.

However, the actual events of that night and Raz’s reactions were interesting and actually made sense. He’s a big tough PI and having found himself in a position where he wasn’t completely in control was hard for him. The decisions he made afterward are quite believable and the touch of vulnerability he carries added a nice depth to his character.

The other thing that bothered me was the mystery itself. While it starts out interesting enough by the time it’s resolved I’d lost all interest in it. Since the people at risk were never a real part of the storyline the impact is minimal and with the focus quickly turning to Gabe and Raz the mystery takes a backseat. The outcome feels contrived and the identity of the mole a bit absurd. In all the mystery aspect did not work for me at all.

This is not to say that The Club at Cool Harbor is a terrible book. There are some fun scenes throughout the book between the characters and Raz’s situation was interesting. Once the BM is resolved the story flows along well and the sex scenes are quite hot and well written. The story has a nice HFN ending with a strong possibility for a HEA.

While the story didn’t live up to my expectations fans of the author or those readers looking for a quick, sexy read who don’t mind an overdone Big Misunderstanding and a weak mystery may enjoy The Club at Cool Harbor.

6 comments

  • Hi Lily
    As usual you went to the heart of the issue very quickly. I, too, would have wanted answers to the question about why Gabe’s reaction was so extreme. It’s not as if they were already dating. I’m sure you know how much I hate this theme with a passion. 🙁 ’nuff said.

    As for the mystery, which would have been the other reason for my interest, if that petered out too what’s left?

    Terrific review Lily of a disappointing story.

    Reply
  • Hi, Lily! Oh, too bad … just like you, I was totally intrigued by the blurb, but those things you mentioned are hard to overlook (especially Gabe’s reaction not being believable — a weak mystery is something I can tolerate if the characters are strong).

    Reply
    • Hi, Val 🙂

      The mystery element was weak but that would have been okay if not for Gabe’s over the top attitude. It was too much for the circumstances, at least imo.

      Reply
  • I can see why you might have been puzzled about the BM, Lily. I certainly would have been confused as to why there was so much hurt when the heroes didn’t know each other that well.

    Great review :).

    Reply

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