A guest review by Jenre
Detective Cooper Thomas was kidnapped and tortured by a psychotic serial killer bent on revenge. If that wasn’t bad enough, Alec Whitley, the only man Cooper ever really loved, the man who left him ten years ago without a word, came back just in time to rescue him. Cooper never thought he’d see Alec again, let alone owe the man his life, so while Cooper might still have feelings for Alec, he’s not sure he wants to open himself up to that kind of hurt.
Now, six months later, Alec wants to discuss their past and plan their future. But before Cooper can come to terms with Alec being back in his life he has to discover who’s killing young gay men before he and Alec become the next victims. Between undercover assignments and startling revelations, Cooper and Alec don’t know if their fragile relationship can survive. Can they solve the case and find a way to be together? A Promise Given is the sequel to the popular novel A Promise Kept.
Having read and enjoyed A Promise Kept last week, I was looking forward to reading this sequel which picks up from the end of the previous story. Unfortunately, all the things that hadn’t bothered me too much about A Promise Kept because I’d liked the character of Mason so much, did bother me in this book because Cooper and Alec didn’t have the same dynamic characterisation.
Cooper is at home recovering from the trauma of being kidnapped by a madman stalker in the previous book. He’s also coping with the shock of having the one man he thought was out of his life forever, suddenly back in his life. Cooper and Alec were lovers ten years ago when suddenly Alec upped and left him without notice, leaving Cooper heartbroken. Ever since then he’s not found someone to live up to the image of Alec and so his sex life has been limited to a stream of meaningless one night stands. Now Alec is back and wants to pick up where he left off all those years ago, but Cooper is afraid that he’s going to have his heart broken all over again. To make matters worse, the stalker killer who is now behind bars seems to have an accomplice who has picked up where his partner left off. As the bodies begin to appear, Cooper and Alec have to work together to find out who is behind the killings.
If you are the sort of reader who loves stories where the heroes quickly fall in love then spend a lot of the book either mooning over each other or having sex, then you are going to like this book. If you like your heroes cast in the mould of ‘manly protector’ and ‘damsel in distress’ then this book will appeal to you. To be honest, I like a bit more nuance of character to my books and so I found both Cooper and Alec a bit dull. They meet at the end of the previous book and at the start of this one they are already starting to talk about the events of 10 years ago. Within the first few chapters all is forgiven and they fall into bed with each other. Then for the rest of the book they are obsessed with sex. There were a number of occasions where I found myself rolling my eyes at the inappropriateness of what they were doing. Both Alec and Cooper are supposed to be professionals working on a case together but they behave like sex-starved teenagers: jumping into bed instead of following up leads; kissing and groping each other in front of others; and getting each other all hot and bothered through sex-talk just before they are about to question suspects. It’s a wonder they managed to solve the case at all with the amount of time they spend having or thinking about sex.
Another part that didn’t work so well for me was the big reveal of the mystery plot. It’s difficult for me to be specific without giving away spoilers, but whilst I liked the idea that the man behind bars wasn’t the only one involved in the disappearances and murders of the young gay men, and I also liked the originality of why the men are being taken and what happens to them; I found the big reveal as to who the main villain was slightly preposterous. In theory, yes, this person could have done what he did, but I had so many questions after I found out the main villain’s identity about how it could have worked, that I felt it was just too far fetched.
There were some highlights in the book. Mason makes a few appearances and it was nice to see the continuation of his and Jack’s relationship. I also liked the pairing of the older closeted police chief, John and the young, nervy Ben, and I have a feeling they may be the next couple in the series.
Those of you who like Stormy Glenn’s stories are going to like this one as well. There were too many things in the story which annoyed me or tested my disbelief for me to highly recommend this A Promise Given, but I’m sure there are many readers who will enjoy this story of two men who are reunited after a gap of ten years.