Title: Private Eye (Liaisons #1)
Author: SE Culpepper
Cover Artist: Unknown
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 246 PDF pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Lasha
Summary Review: A stunning debut novel that had wonderful characters, a hot romance and a mystery that held my attention from beginning to end.
Rafe Bridges stopped mixing business with pleasure long ago, but when he receives a call from an intriguing cop who needs help searching for an old family friend, he breaks down and takes on the case. With each day that passes, Rafe becomes further fascinated by Jeremy Halliday…but the biggest problem isn’t his attraction to the cop or his growing need for him. It’s the tiny little detail of Jeremy being straight.
Jeremy isn’t as immune to Rafe as he’d like to believe and as they work together, sifting through a case that is more mysterious and dangerous than it seems, Rafe becomes distant. Knowing he might miss out on someone incredible, Jeremy has to figure out what and who he really wants. And soon.
Nothing is black and white anymore.
Amazon recommended this book to me (how well they know my shopping tastes!) But I am glad they did. This is a rare gem, a self-published, debut novel from an author I’ve never heard of but now want more from. Private Eye is a mixture of a good old detective novel infused with a romance. Rafe Bridges is a private investigator. When he gets a call from Jeremy Halliday, a cop who is trying to help find his neighbor’s runaway daughter, he takes the case, thinking it should be an easy pay-day as the girl will eventually come home. But as they work the case together, that easy resolution doesn’t come and as the attraction between the two men heat up…will Jeremy choose to acknowledge it?
What I liked about this book was that once Jeremy decided he wanted Rafe, he went all in. The traditional Gay For You angst was toned down and instead Rafe and Jeremy are just two guys who are falling in love. The drama is more external, dealing with the missing girl, rather than Jeremy’s new-found sexuality. Although there are misunderstandings between the two men, as with any new relationship; however, they are resolved in a mature manner, rather than dragging out the Big Misunderstanding to a predictable level.
Another plus for me was the love scenes. The tension was off-the-charts between Rafe and Jeremy, so when they finally give into their passion — wow. Is my Kindle on fire? And for those readers who hate too much sex in their m/m novels, you will love this one. The sex and the plot are equally drawn, so mystery fans will get that fix and romance readers will get theirs. (Now in the beginning of the book, Rafe sleeps with an ex-boyfriend, Mark. A huge mistake, as he soon realizes, and that comes into play later on in the novel, but this wasn’t infidelity to me, since Rafe and Jeremy weren’t involved at that point.)
Third, the secondary characters had depth. The runaway girl was fragile, sympathetic and an integral part of the plot. Her family, despite their weirdness also moved the action along. But it was Rafe’s ex, Mark who stole the show. (You will either love or hate this guy. Personally I wanted to punch him, but when I found out he has his own novel, I might have jumped on the Mark bandwagon to grudgingly liking him.)
My only niggle with this book, and why it did not get 5 stars was the ending. While a fitting way to conclude the drama, felt like an episode of NYPD Blue. It was a little predictable, slightly over-dramatic way to resolve the tension that had been building since the beginning of the book, but when combined with the overall engrossing writing, the spot-on characterizations and the easy flow of the book, I hand waved that.
Final conclusion: Recommended.
Book two in this series, Question Mark, is out and can be purchased here.