Undercover Nights (Armadillo #2)

Title: Undercover Nights (Armadillo #2)
Author: Patricia Logan
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length:  272 PDF pages
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Lasha


Summary Review: This book has some major issues, including hot, if improbable, sex scenes.

THE BLURB

Second in the Armadillo series. Book one, Leather Nights reviewed here.

In the midst of ending a miserable relationship, gentle physical therapist Gage Neary has been accused of the most horrific of crimes — murder. As a number of his patients die of poisoning, the evidence seems to point to him, and he becomes the prime suspect in the FBI investigation. Cody Redsun, the smokin’ hot FBI agent assigned to investigate the crimes, decides that it’s Gage he’d rather probe for answers.

When they find their lives threatened, Cody gives himself a new assignment; keep Gage alive until he can find the actual killer. While the true menace to the two men seems to be clear, Cody hides a tortured past that is just as threatening to their deepening bond. As the danger heats up, so do the two men, burning only for each other and the fiery passion that promises to consume them.

THE REVIEW

Undercover Nights is the sequel to Leather Nights which chronicled the lives of two gay men (with children from previous relationships) coping with the pressures of being an out couple in a small Texas town. Gage and Cody were introduced in book one and now take center stage in their own novel.

The book starts out not with Gage and Cody meeting, but with Gage and his current live-in lover, Antonio fighting because Gage walks in on the boyfriend having phone sex with another man. A few pages later he catches the bastard cheating and breaks up with him, setting Gage up to immediately date Special Agent Cody Redsun, in town to investigate a mysterious death that Gage might be involved in – or so the FBI thinks. Insta-Attraction happens between Gage and Cody and after one date and the break-up with Antonio only hours old, our two protagonists have sex, after which Cody runs out on Gage because he cannot handle his feelings for the other man. Antonio just happened to be in the area and seeing Cody run out becomes enraged that his ex – who he was cheating on — would be with another man, so he beats up Gage (breaking his cheekbone) and putting him in the hospital, but flees the area afterwards. Cody comforts Gage and this sets up the general concept of the novel: the two MCs versus the bad guys.

In this review, I am going to explain the many reasons why I am giving this book 1.5 stars because that is the main issue with Undercover Nights — why it doesn’t work as an action/suspense thriller in my mind.

Characterizations

First, Gage, our first hero, is not very bright. After being beat to a bloody pulp by Antonio and later finding out his ex is actually an assassin for a Mexican drug cartel; does Gage change the locks on his front door? No. Of course this means that Antonio and his drug dealing friends are able to get in and try and kill him (repeatedly) throughout the novel. (For this, I kept flashing back to poor old Ken Hutchinson in the 1970’s TV show, Starsky & Hutch, who always put his spare key above a ledge on his door and the bad guys kept using it to break in and try and kill him. Hutch meet Gage, Gage meet Hutch. Same mentality. Poor naive fools.) Also, no cop worth his/her salt would keep a witness who is in protective custody at their own home, let alone let them answer a knock at the door and open it up for the bad guys to cart them away.

Second, the bad guys are two-dimensional cardboard cut outs from a 1920’s silent movie, except in this instance they speak, but still twirl their moustaches and spout really bad clichéd — and in some instances bigoted dialog. (I expected dramatic music to crescendo everytime one of them appeared). 

Third, Special Agent Cody Redsun doesn’t follow any type of correct police procedure that I know of. He gets involved with a potential murder suspect, doesn’t report possible corruption to higher ups and generally investigates his case like he’s on vacation. Point of fact: Gage, Jake, Cade (from book #1) and Cody go to a BDSM club to follow the Big Bad and gather evidence against them — yet do they take pictures, video or audio of these events? That would be a no. Cody and Gage are too busy having sex in one of the private rooms to bother with that. Even more alarming is the fact they fall asleep afterwards and spend the night in a drug cartel owned club, only sneaking out the next morning with no evidence to get Gage off the hook for the murder.

(I’m afraid it was at that point the whole book went utterly unrealistic for me and I nearly gave up. But since I was reviewing this, I carried on.)

Plot

You don’t just have to handwave over the glaring plot holes in Undercover Nights, basically you have to use your Jazz Hands to make them go away. Having worked in law enforcement, I couldn’t see that any effort was made to do research on the realities of working for the FBI. When one of the main characters is an FBI agent and the plot revolved around corrupt law enforcement officials, I would hope the plot would have some gritty realism in it. This one doesn’t. I can easily forgive some mistakes in regards to author not understanding how the FBI or state and local police agencies work, but if you are going to set a story in that universe, please use some sort of reference to fact check how cops really investigate a crime or protect a potential witness who could identify a major assassin from a drug gang. They certainly don’t allow them to stay in their own home with one agent to guard them.

Another thing was the identities of the bad guys were given away too early in the book. I would have liked not to have known who the Big Bad was so early on to draw the tension out when the climax of the novel came. Knowing the identity took away all the suspense needed to carry the plot forward.

The Love Story

The best part of the book. While I could have done without the Insta-Love and endearments from the moment Cody and Gage meet, I have to admit the sex scenes were hot. I gave the novel the extra .5 rating because those scenes were mostly very well-written. Only problem, as I discussed before, is that the sex was highly inappropriate in time and place. For example, Gage and Cody kiss in his hospital room after Antonio nearly beat him to death and before Gage’s injuries have healed. Ouch.

It seemed the large amounts of sex were filler for the confusing plot. Plus if Cody and Gage had sex everywhere they did in this book, more than likely they would have been dead as the drug cartel would have killed them during a sex-induced stupor before Cody could pull his gun out. There was also a “sir” and “Master” role-play that came out of nowhere in the BDSM club between Cody and Gage that to me went against the previous developed character traits of Cody. I did not think Cody would enjoy being tied up or penetrated for the first time in a place where anyone — including the bad guys — could walk in and see them. I would have thought Cody would have wanted his ‘first’ time to be in private with sweet lovemaking to ease him through his fears — which were many at the beginning of the book. Instead you get an intense D/s scene with no real preparation in it for the submissive.

So while the sex scenes were titillating, they were also improbable and actually dangerous if you were really an FBI agent trying to keep your witness/lover from being killed while drug kingpins were after him.

Conclusion

I don’t think any reviewer wants to write a less than positive review. It is not my intention to bash this book, but to point out the flaws in the plot, characterizations and overall tone of the book that made it less than an enjoyable read. I am sure there are readers out there who love this book and are totally not interested in realism from a law enforcement universe. Every reader is different in how we enjoy a book and reviews are very subjective, so you can take this review with those words in mind. While this was not my cup of tea, however, it might be yours. But, I cannot recommend it based on my initial reaction.

Author

I’ve been reading romance books since I was 12 and when I found m/m books a few years ago I fell madly in love with the genre. My favorites tropes are: GFY, police partners in love and May-December romances. I also adore paranormals and in my spare time away from Jessewave, I review pararmormal m/m books at my own blog. Give me a good shifter book and I’m a happy girl!

16 comments

  • MAHAHAH. Yes, that is the best way to conduct investigation, to have sex during it, as if sex magic will have all the answers appear. It is also a good thing to have sex if you are awaiting the confrontation with the villain, have you noticed how often that happens in mm books?

    And yeah, a lot of books tend to think that research in contemporaries, thrillers, etc, is not necessary thing. So wrong. Thanks for an entertaining review Lasha.

    Reply
  • Hi Lasha, I read (or skimmed, I should say) book 1, since the family plot is one of my favorite types of books. However, the Sir/Master scenes was too much for this tenderfoot to deal with. I’m pretty sure I need to pass on this one since I dont’ like BDSM books.

    BTW: you were cracking me with the the Starsky & Hutch reference. I haven’t thought about them in ages!!! (shutting up now since I’m giving away my age.)

    Reply
  • I could barely get through the first book. I’ll take a pass on this one. Plus I saw there was a third one out now. Just bad.

    Reply
  • more than likely they would have been dead as the drug cartel would have killed them during a sex-induced stupor before Cody could pull his gun out.

    ….but Lasha, his gun was out i.e. his other gun which shoots different kinds of bullets. lol

    So Lasha, do I need to read Undercover Nights in order to review Book 3? Just asking. 🙂

    Reply
    • No. Your characters will be introduced briefly. Each book is really self-contained.

      I’d be interested to see if all the characters from the series make an appearance in your book though.

      Reply
  • I bought and read the first book before I discovered this site. Although Lily gave it 4 stars I would have given it much fewer. This one sounds worse and that’s saying a lot! I’ll pass.

    Thanks for taking one for the team though. :bravo:

    Reply
    • I read the first book and liked it better than this one – at least until the hate crimes started. 🙂 I thought Leather Nights could have been a great story if the redneck yahoos had been left out and the novel just focused on how two men blended their new family.

      Reply
  • Lasha, I appreciate reading a review by someone who actually has law-enforcement experience. I find it really frustrating to waste time and money on a book whose author doesn’t do enough research to even fake technical details well enough to convince a layperson.

    Reply
    • It’s my pet peeve, just like I have a friend who is a nurse and has a hard time reading fic where the medical stuff is wrong.

      I always say if you have not worked in that field, yet are setting a universe in it, ask an expert. There is a ask_a_cop community on Livejournal that is a great reference.

      Reply
      • Yes, as a reader I feel like I can recognize lack of research in fiction no matter what the field – there’s just a generic-ness and lack of detail that makes it hard to believe in the story. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but there needs to be enough plausible background filled in that I can suspend my disbelief (sort of like “world-building” in SF/Fantasy).

        Reply
  • Hi Lasha,
    I never finished Undercover Nights. – Kudos to you!
    But your “lough out loud review” totally made up for an -indeed- disastrous read!
    Ow…my sides hurt… :hysterics:

    Thank you!

    Reply
  • Unfortunately I completely agree with your review. Those huge plot holes, the insta-love and weird sex scenes (not to mention to kissing with a broken cheekbone) drove me nuts. But there are a lot of positive reviews on GR, for instance by Nerine Petros and Kimberly Hunter.

    Reply
    • Everyone has their own personal tastes for fic. I remember I gave a friend a book I thought was 5 stars, she read it and asked me if I was smoking crack! 😀

      Different views and tastes are what makes the world go round. 😎

      Reply

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