Sinner’s Gin (Sinners #1)

Sinner's GinTitle: Sinner’s Gin (Sinners #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Cover Art: Reece Notley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Sinner’s Gin
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance/Suspense
Length: Novel/260 PDF pages/85,843 words
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by LadyM

Review summary:Not without problems, but lovable characters made me overlook them.

Blurb: There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.

After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.

Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.

Review:

Sinner’s Gin, the first novel in a new four-part series by Rhys Ford, inevitably invites the comparison with Ms Ford’s Dirty series. While I adored Cole, I had trouble identifying with Jae, probably because I lack even superficial knowledge of Korean culture. On the other hand, I loved both Miki and Kane and it took very few pages before I was invested in them. Unlike the books in the Dirty series, this one wasn’t a mystery, but rather thriller/suspense. The book isn’t without flaws, but I personally enjoyed it a great deal and was able to see them only after I finished the book. A few of those include some pacing problems and obscure writing. But, first things first.

After spending years in the foster system where he was horribly abused, Meiko “Miki” St. John had found family in his band Sinner’s Gin. But, only hours after receiving prestigious music award, the members of the band were involved in a car accident and only Miki survived. Now, he is spending days in his remodeled warehouse, avoiding everyone, with only a stray dog for company. The dog – Dude – is instrumental in introducing Miki to Kane Morgan, SFPD inspector with woodworking for a hobby, who rents a shop near Miki’s place. The dog is also a thief, watchdog and anti-reporter weapon! Kane, who comes from a family of cops, is intrigued, but a murder in Miki’s garage puts a different spin on their acquaintance. The murdered man turns out to be Miki’s abuser and Miki thus becomes the primary suspect. Soon, however, it is clear that Miki is actually a target.

The most difficult part of the novel is Miki’s reliving of terrible abuse. It was easy to understand Kane’s homicidal fantasies in the face of such inhuman behavior. Miki is vulnerable, but not incapacitated by the experience. In fact, considering everything, his strength is amazing. But, the abuse left real scars, especially on his self-worth and interaction with other people.

“I don’t mind being called a whore. At least it makes it sound like I had a choice.”

Thus, Kane hesitates to engage in a sexual relationship with inexperienced Miki, so they form an emotional relationship prior to falling into bed. I liked how that developed – they had a real connection without sex involved. I thought that the tolerance of Kane’s superior was a bit over-the-top, even for San Francisco, especially since at the beginning of their relationship Miki was still a murder suspect. But, I liked Kane’s partner Sanchez, Miki’s manager Edie as well as Kane’s family, even if they came across as overbearing and perfect in equal measure. I wonder if Quinn, Kane’s gay brother, would get a role in one of the future books.

It was extremely funny to read Miki’s reaction to Kane’s family, especially Kane’s mother:

“Brigid shifted closer, and Miki eyed her suspiciously. On the surface, she looked like the type of woman they’d cast as the warm-voiced mother on some drama where one of her kids caught a tragic disease. Then she spent the next couple of hours tracking through the jungles, looking for the one plant in the world that could cure him.

While wearing those heels. And flipping blueberry pancakes. And slinging an Uzi across her shoulder to fight off a horde of pirates.”

While the strength of the novel undoubtedly lies in the characters, it was the case as well as some of the writing that bothered me upon reflection. Somehow, after the steady buildup through the book, the revelation of the villain and his motivation was a bit of a letdown. Also, some of his actions (for example, arson directed at Sanchez) didn’t seem to match his previous behavior and was left unexplained. In terms of writing, there were some problems with the pacing. In the middle of the novel, the case disappeared and the story concentrated entirely on Miki and Kane. The time jumps within the story were far from smooth. The last one (three months) was especially jarring, considering that the last paragraph before the jump promised some big, dramatic event and what happened was… nothing. It was also hard to pinpoint exactly what happened and when during the sex scenes. I know some reviewers had a problem with an especially long masturbation scene and I have to agree that it was unnecessary. And, finally, there was a cliffhanger at the end – I can’t wait to see how that will be explained and remain believable.

All in all, it seemed to me that Sinner’s Gin would have benefited from another round of edits before its release. This way, I believe your enjoyment in the novel will depend on how much you liked the main protagonists. As I said, I liked them a lot, so have that in mind when you consider my rating. Hopefully, they will continue to grow throughout the series.

Sinners Series

Reggie
Thanks for your review Lady M! I just finished this book and really enjoyed it. Just an overall well put together fun story. I too lived the notes at the beginning of each chapter. They kept me aware of the rocker aspect of Miki’s personality even though it wasn’t where he was at the moment of the story. Loved that. Thanks for the rec that lead to a very enjoyable read. There needs to be a warning label on the preview for the next book. Now I’m all strung out waiting for the next one to come out at some… Read more »
Sirius
Okay I finished. I also really liked Kane and Miki. I loved that they developed emotional connection first as you said and they just had such greaf chemistry imo. I would grade it like you did or probably even a bit lower though. Shower scene irritated me yes, but not because it is a regular pet peeve of mine – in another book I may not blink twice when reading it. Here it felt that the author did not trust me ( I am saying me because obviously I can only speak about me as a reader and nobody else)… Read more »
Denni

Enjoyed the book (alot), awesome characters :delic: How soon can we read a sequel?! 😉

Rhys Ford

Working on it. 😀

Sunne

Hm..somehow there is a part missing of my comment and the edit doesn’t work.
Okay, I wanted to say, I liked it.
If there had been no sex in it.

Sunne
I really liked the book…despite the Morgans seemed to be right out of a Nora Roberts romance…until I came to the sex scenes. For me they sounded like written by someone else. The book was funny, entertaining and then “bam” the sex was cheesy, overly flowery in word choice and drawn out and I don’t even mean the shower scene. I have two pet-peeves for sex and one is the overuse of terms like “the man”, “the singer”, “the cop” – personal pronous can be used for sex scenes, too. The use of terms creates a distance in a situation… Read more »
Mary G

I enjoyed your review. I totally LOVED this book. I love rock stars (song lyrics start every chapter too) & sexy, raw, gritty, angsty stories. Loved these two together & the secondary characters. As for the too long scene. Must be the upside or downside lol of being a fast reader. I never noticed how long it was.

Helena

Looking forward to more of the Morgan boys 😀 and of course the rest of the series 😉

Thank you for your review 😎

Urbanista

The characters were so appealing, nothing else mattered!

Rhys Ford
Morning (okay morning here) Thank you for liking the boys. I’m glad you enjoyed their relationship. Ah, the shower scene. *grins* I wrote it because I wanted a connective scene there. It seemed like something Kane would do. It’s probably the most trope-ish thing I’ve written but it felt…fun to do. There’s always that balance to strike between writing for a newbie or someone whose been reading M/M since John Preston. So, it’s one of those walking the line things. Sometimes I stray over to the newbie side just because. Heh… always walking one line or another. :hysterics: But thank… Read more »
treasure

I thought it was less a cliff hanger and more a coming attraction type trailer. It comes after the epilogue and doesn’t relate to the mystery

Sirius

I have this one, but have not read it yet. How bad is the cliffhanger? Thanks for the review 🙂

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