Title: A Casual Weekend Thing
Author: A J Thomas
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon: Buy Link A Casual Weekend Thing
Length: 310 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Review by: Orion
Review Summary: A finely told mystery wrapped in a hot romance.
Blurb: Doug Heavy Runner left the life of an openly gay Miami police officer and returned to his home on the Salish-Kootenai Indian Reservation when his mother got sick. In the two years since she passed, he’s carved out an empty life as a small-town deputy, relying on out-of-town one-night stands to keep him sane. Then he meets Detective Christopher Hayes, and they share a wild night so incredible Doug breaks his own rule and allows a one-night stand to grow into a weekend of amazing sex.
When Christopher travels from San Diego to Montana to deal with his abusive brother’s suicide, he doesn’t expect to find the man he spent the weekend with to be handling his brother’s case. He certainly doesn’t mind spending more time with Doug—but then an arsonist destroys the house Christopher inherited from his brother, and Christopher and Doug discover they are the primary suspects.
As they investigate, they discover Christopher’s dead brother has set them on the trail of a psychotic pedophile who will stop at nothing to silence his last victim. However, the search for the victim goes horribly wrong, leaving Doug hospitalized and Christopher at the mercy of the killer.
Thing Least Likely Partnership Series
A Casual Weekend Thing is a debut novel, but it reads as if it were written by an author with a number of published books under her belt. The writing and character development here are quite good, and A J Thomas is to be commended for a fine debut.
The main characters, police officers Christopher and Doug, are both damaged souls, dogged by troubled histories. Christopher, with whom the story opens, is physically damaged as well. He suffered a gunshot wound in the line of duty, and his recovery is not going as well as he would like. He loves police work, but the lingering effects of his injury have him wondering whether he will be able to handle a gun again. Helping him through his recovery is his police partner, Ray, a supportive friend for 4 years who is an avowed heterosexual. Ray has made it clear that he has no problem with Christoper being gay as long as Christopher doesn’t hit on him. That doesn’t stop Christopher from crushing on his partner. There is a cute scene involving Christopher, Ray, a young woman, and the meaning of “partner” as applied in the police world and in the gay world that had me laughing out loud. It is one of quite a few surprisingly comic scenes in this book.
When we meet Doug, he is leading a team to recover the body of a man who committed suicide. Doug comes across as a strong, efficient, and confident man, but he has closeted his sexuality because of the conservative environment he now lives in. He has reduced his sex life to a series of virtually anonymous one-night stands. That changes when he meets Christopher at a gay bar and goes with him to his hotel room. They have such an intense sexual connection that their one-night stand becomes the titular casual weekend thing.
Of course, this casual weekend thing turns out to be neither casual nor limited to just a weekend. The guys both want more of each other, and circumstances give them that opportunity. Christopher has come from California to Montana to deal with the recent death of his brother, who happens to be the suicide victim Doug is investigating. This allows them time to explore their developing feelings for each other as they are drawn into a thickening and very dark mystery. I won’t go into any details about the mystery, except to say that it involves a lot of suspense and kept me, for the most part, on the proverbial edge of my seat. It all leads to a thrilling climax.
There were a few minor things that I found distracting. I saw a couple of plot twists coming a mile away and felt that certain details in the story should have been handled with a bit more subtlety. Something happens between Christopher and a secondary character that didn’t strike me as entirely plausible, given what we are originally told about that character. Readers who can’t stand insta-love may find a hint of it in how quickly Christopher’s feelings for Doug develop over a relatively short period of time. I thought the ending was more HFN than HEA, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I prefer to have an author tie up everything with a nice bow at the end; some readers find such endings annoying. And it may be that A J Thomas is leaving things open for a sequel with these characters, which I would not mind at all.
Still, you shouldn’t let such minor things keep you from this story. Overall, it is a well-written novel, with engaging characters and a plot that grabs you and does not let go until the end. If you enjoy hot romance mixed with mystery, dark secrets, and suspense, you should definitely read this book. I am looking forward to more of A J Thomas’s works.