Title: Cop Out (Toronto Tales #1)
Author: K.C. Burn
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: novel (200 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Review Summary: I really liked the characters of Davy and Kurt as they tried to find love in a minefield of loss and emotional devastation.
Detective Kurt O’Donnell is used to digging up other people’s secrets, but when he discovers his slain partner was married to another man, it shakes him. Determined to do the right thing, Kurt offers the mourning Davy his assistance. Helping Davy through his grief helps Kurt deal with the guilt that his partner didn’t trust him enough to tell him the truth, and somewhere along the way Davy stops being an obligation and becomes a friend, the closest friend Kurt has ever had.
His growing attraction to Davy complicates matters, leaving Kurt struggling to reevaluate his sexuality. Then a sensual encounter neither man is ready for confuses them further. To be with Davy, Kurt must face the prospect of coming out, but his job and his relationship with his Catholic family are on the line. Can he risk destroying his life for the uncertain possibility of a relationship with a newly widowed man.
Kurt’s partner on the Force was killed in a bust gone bad when the building they staked out exploded. Kurt was seriously injured in the blast and he found out that he didn’t really know his 46 year old partner Ben whom he thought of as his friend and mentor for 3 years. Apparently Ben was gay and had a life partner that no one knew about, and on the day of his funeral Kurt came face to face with Davy Broussard.
Kurt felt he owed it to his former partner to help Davy through his desolation and grief and visited him at his home shortly after the funeral. Despite some initial resistance from Davy he stopped by regularly and after a few weeks they became friends, but Kurt had to work hard to gain Davy’s trust. He couldn’t believe what Davy’s life was like when he saw how he lived – a bland, joyless, lifeless existence with no friends, which apparently was Ben’s doing because he was so afraid of anyone finding out he was gay. Ben had isolated Davy from all his friends over the 10 years they lived together, and when he died Davy had no one to lean on. He was the typical abused spouse who could not fend for himself because that was the way his abuser wanted him to be – totally dependent for so long that his personality had died, and it took months before the real Davy emerged and he started living again.
Several months after being with Davy Kurt realized that he was having sexual thoughts about him and that he was no longer interested in women. In fact he could not perform when Jen, his new partner Simon’s wife, fixed him up on a date, and that really scared him. He was also afraid of the fallout if his religious family figured out what was going on with him and his biggest concern was that they would reject him if they ever found out he might be gay. The stress almost caused him to have a breakdown and his life took a downturn as he drank himself into a stupor every night until he went to bed because he could not face who he was. When he had a meltdown Simon had his back.
What worked for me:
The protagonists: Two lonely men who became so close that Kurt ended up spending most of his down time with Davy and they got to know and appreciate each other. Davy became a new person, or I should say he became the man he should have been for the past 10 years but for Ben.
Kurt’s family was the typical large Irish Catholic family whose members were boisterous, they beat up on each other whenever the opportunity arose, and had a lot of fun. I especially liked Kurt’s mom who was his main support when the chips were down.
Simon, the former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who became Kurt’s best friend and partner on the job, as well as his wife Jen.
Davy proved he could be very strong, insisting that he would never allow another man to force him in the closet and hide him in plain sight like Ben did. Kurt knew he had to come clean but that took another 6 months because he couldn’t deal with being gay. I thought the timing was realistic.
I loved how Davy blossomed after Kurt helped him to see who he really was.
Both characters were sympathetically drawn and three dimensional. I really felt for Kurt as he struggled to rationalize his relationship with Davy and reevaluate his sexuality because he knew how difficult it would be to tell his family he was in love with a man and come out on the Force.
What didn’t work for me
Although it took almost 6 months and 60% of the story before Kurt and Davy had sex the first time I still had a bit of difficulty with Kurt’s sexual orientation as a gay man. He had never exhibited any tendency of being attracted to other men before Davy, so this was definitely Gay For You, not Out for You. The author tried to show how their friendship led to love and maybe it’s possible, but I wasn’t totally convinced especially in view of Kurt’s struggles to define his relationship with Davy, which led to a separation of half a year.
I couldn’t understand how Kurt’s supervisor didn’t figure out his drinking problem.
Using hurt/comfort to resolve relationship issues and get the MCs back together is a strategy a lot of M/M authors use as a quick fix for a HEA. I thought it was too convenient here even though detectives’ lives by the very nature of their jobs are dangerous. However, other readers might find the solution used by K.C. Burn to be very romantic. Perhaps I’m too pragmatic as this is fiction after all.
I did have one other minor disappointment. This story was set in Toronto and I wish that there was a bit more background about the city to give a sense of time and place as I enjoy the settings of these stories as much as I enjoy the characters and the plots.
To wrap up, I enjoyed the book as I thought that the writing was better than the average in this genre and the pacing and plot worked most of the time.
I think you will enjoy Cop Out, which is the author’s first contemporary. The characters were complex and flawed, their relationship was complicated and finding a viable solution was difficult. Overall I think that K.C. Burn did a good job, with the exceptions I noted in my review.