A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
A gunshot wound isn’t enough to slow down Detective Patrick Hawkins, so his friends conspire to ship him off to visit his best friend and ex-lover, Dr. Julian Piet, for some forced recovery time. If only Julian and his new boyfriend weren’t so disgustingly cute all the time, Patrick might actually have a chance to enjoy himself.
Enter Brad Wilde, Alberta’s hottest bartender. Brad might be inexperienced and shy by nature, but that doesn’t stop the sparks from flying between them. But Patrick is used to casual flings and one-night stands, and he’s not quite sure what to do about his attraction to Brad.
All of Patrick’s doubts seem trivial when Julian’s neighbor’s child goes missing and the whole town mobilizes to find her. When the search for Hallie turns up a decomposing body, the police begin to fear they’ll never find her alive. As Brad and Patrick try to help, they will have to overcome the physical and emotional distance between them to have any hope of finding Hallie before she falls victim to the same fate as the mysterious corpse.
Wild Angels is book three in the Lost Boys and Love Letters Series by the writing team of Bethany Brown and Ashlyn Kane. To review this story, I need to talk a little bit about the first books, and to this end you should know that although you can read this story as a standalone, you really should read the other two as quite a few of the other characters — especially Julian and Jack from True North (book one) — have large roles here as well as many references are made to happenings in the other books. You can find reviews on this site for True North and Picture Perfect (book two) by Kris.
Though not without a few relatively minor issues for me, I really liked TN; I thought the characterizations were strong, the story believable, the protags likeable, the writing well-done. I moved on to PP, but ended up putting it down about half-way though, a real disappointment to me considering how well I liked TN — so saccharine it made my teeth hurt; repetitive everything, from the overuse of the endearment “baby” to the smexxin; the lack of backstory when it was repeatedly mentioned; the Gary-Sue-ish characters; the ménage I knew was coming. I figured that I had enough of the background to begin WA, but I quickly realized that I would need to finish PP as this third book often referred things that happened later in that previous story. After I finished WA, I did go back and read the rest of PP, which was as unsatisfactory as I feared. However, since I am not here to review PP, I will let it go at that.
But I am reviewing WA, a tale that, while I didn’t hate it, had quite a few issues for me. I was hoping that PP was a fluke and that I would get a story on par with TN , but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
The story opens approximately a month after the close of PP with Cameron, one of the protags from that book, calling Julian, one of the protags from TN, to say that he is sending mutual friend Patrick to him for a month to recover from the gunshot wound he suffered toward the end of PP. Surprised and shocked to hear that Patrick was hurt, he agrees to take him on. Patrick arrives, meets Julian’s new boyfriend, Jack, and the three of them get along swimmingly once Julian gets done screaming at Patrick for getting hurt and not telling him. Patrick then meets Brad, one of the bartenders at the local pub, and there is instant attraction. Though Brad has never been with a guy, he has thought about it, and they begin to date, a departure for avowed love-‘em-and-leave-‘em slut Patrick. But not all of the trip is good; Patrick, Jack, and Julian have some issues, next-door neighbor Hallie disappears, a dead body is found, and Patrick has problems with his quickly-arriving return back to his own life, making him act in a very Patrick-like way.
I was good with this story until about page 50 where it started going downhill for me. We are in on the conversation between Cam and Julian; we see Patrick arriving at the airport and being met by Roz, Julian’s sister/cousin; we watch as Patrick wanders through Julian and Jack’s empty house; we witness Julian freaking out at Patrick for getting hurt and not telling him; we are there when Patrick meets Brad for the first time. So far, so good.
My problems started with a kiss between Patrick and Julian — with Jack looking on — that warned me to watch out for low-flying ménages coming ahead, and I was mostly correct. While not a true ménage, it was close enough that it made me uncomfortable. I realize that the authors used it to force closure to Patrick and Julian’s prior relationship, but it made me — and them, ultimately —unhappy.
There were several times where I felt I was missing out on something — a conversation and a few other things mentioned that weren’t expanded upon — which makes me wonder if I missed a story (or stories) set before TN. One of these times was near the end when Patrick does a repeat of what happened with him and Julian, and the way it was conveyed to us made me think that it was shown or explained in detail elsewhere, but not that I remember from either of the two books before. Another is that Patrick, pointed out several times and by multiple characters — including himself — is a slut. He is a confident manwhore, apparently sleeping his way across several Canadian Provinces, but he has a sudden onset of insecurity about his worth that seemed to come from nowhere, and suddenly other characters are talking about this fragile sense of self-worth. There is no indication prior to this that Patrick had issues, and it was jarring to me, and I wonder, again, if I missed something.
It was mentioned several times that the small Alberta town Julian, Jack and Brad live in is conservative and I anticipated something to be made Brad’s coming out and being with Patrick, but it never happened. There was no hesitation of the part of the gay couples in the story to hold hands, put arms around each other, dance, kiss (and not just pecks, either), grope in public — on the street, walking through parks, in diners, ice rinks and bars. For a small, conservative town, it surely takes its gay residents in stride, even seeming welcoming of them. It didn’t seem realistic to me that there would be no dirty looks, negative comments or backlash at all considering the emphasis on the conservativeness.
I had some issues with the “mystery” (missing girl) element, including things that didn’t make sense to me and ultimately I felt it wasn’t explained enough afterwards; in fact, it was barely mentioned after it was over. Honestly, I feel that the entire subplot could have been left out without damaging the rest of the story.
The seemingly constant use of pet names and endearments, something that really bothered me in PP, carried over to this book, too.
I noticed that in some ways, this book is almost as much about Jack and Julian that it is about Patrick and Brad. They have a lot of screentime, both with Patrick and by themselves as well. Additionally, much of the month the story spans takes place offscreen. Because of these things, I didn’t feel that Patrick and Brad’s relationship was explored as well as it could have been, nor either character fully-developed. This was unfortunate because I thought both protags were likable and seemed to fit well together.
The ending is a hopeful HFN, and that worked for me because I suspect there will be more to this series and we may get updates on the future of these two, as well as other character pairs.
Oh, and my favorite line in the book? “Say hello to your prostate, Angel.”
I was really hoping that this story would have been better for me than Picture Perfect, but ultimately it was another disappointment compared to the very good True North. It is possible that fans of the authors and readers of the series will feel differently.