Title: Point of No Return (Turning Point #1)
Author: N.R. Walker
Edition: Second Edition
Cover Artist: Posh Gosh
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Mystery
Rating: 4.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A beautiful emerging love story coupled with a grade A police crime novel makes for a compelling read.
Blurb: Matthew Elliot is one of LA’s best detectives—a smart, tough, closeted gay man. When he falls for his gym instructor, it’s not his colleagues he should be worried about finding out…it’s the bad guys.
Matthew Elliot is one of LA’s best detectives. He’s been labelled the golden boy of the Fab Four: a team of four detectives who’ve closed down drug-rings all over the city. He’s smart, tough and exceptionally good at his job.
He’s also a closeted gay man.
Enter Kira Takeo Franco, the new boxing coach at the gym. Matthew can’t deny his immediate attraction to the man his fellow cops know as Frankie. But in allowing himself to fall in love with a man known to his colleagues, Matthew risks outing them both.
Matt and Kira work to keep their relationship and private lives hidden from Matt’s very public life, fearing it would be detrimental to their careers.
But it’s not the other cops who Matthew should be worried about finding out his deepest, darkest secret…it’s the bad guys.
Review: Point of No Return is at its heart a coming out romance with a police detective crime story built into its plot. Normally, I would tell you that this kind of flow doesn’t do justice to one or the other story-line an author is trying to develop. In this case, I would be lying. N.R. Walker deftly handles moving a budding romance into a mystery story by allowing the two different plot points to morph into one another making for a really fine story overall.
Due to the decision to have both our main characters be closeted due to thinking that their jobs would be adversely affected if they were out, the author is able to bypass the angst normally associated with just one partner hiding. This, in turn, allowed for the slow build of attraction to change into a solid base for real love between Kira and Matthew. Roughly the first half of this book is dedicated to watching the development of their relationship and it is so beautifully written that I found myself hanging on every phrase and hoping that somehow this fragile love would survive being “outed”. The odds, as the author wrote them, were certainly against these two men. Both dealing with fellow police men, Matthew as a detective and Kira as an instructor at the police gym, left little doubt that a “gay colleague or teacher” would hardly be welcome. Notoriously, and steeped in reality, the police force is less than tolerant of gay rights and N.R. Walker does not sugarcoat the reasonable fear that both men have should they be discovered.
Each moment of this journey was not only tentative but tender and endearing. The author immediately gets the reader inside the mind of the two mc’s and allows us to understand their thinking. Because of this, Kira’s care for Matthew–his acceptance of keeping their love for each other firmly locked behind closed doors sang with a truth that made each of their moments together even more realistic and compelling to read. Theirs was perhaps the sweetest love story I have ever encountered.
As their love developed, the situation at work also escalated for Matthew. He was a narcotics detective and, as such, part of a team of four men who consistently shut down drug kingpins for a living. Their most recent case involved a psychopathic killer cum drug lord who would stop at nothing to escape justice. We watch with a growing sense of horror as N.R. Walker moves her characters into the crosshairs and picks up her second plot point to develop the mystery side of this novel. There is an immediate sense of danger afoot and our two lovers are set up to walk into a situation that will threaten one of their lives and might potentially push their relationship fully into the spotlight.
I held my breath at this point, hoping that the incredible writing that had been so apparent in the making of the love story earlier in the book would hold true for this portion as well. I was not disappointed. The sense of urgency, the taut action, the police procedure all blended into an intense crime story that gripped me completely. Here was where we got a real sense of secondary characters and how much their opinions and support influenced Matthew’s decision to remain closeted for so long. As this portion of the story unraveled, we also got a glimpse at how important trust is between partners on the force and how it enabled these men to “have each other’s backs” when the chips were down.
So, I am sure you are wondering why this is not a five star rating, given that I have had nothing but praise for this author’s work thus far. In my opinion, the story suffered in only one area and that was the ending–the resolution beyond the main conflict. I felt that this was the only place that the author rushed and, as a result, it felt unfinished, abrupt. Throughout the rest of the novel, such care was given to developing the plot slowly, allowing for time to pass, lending a realism to the themes presented. At the end, it was not Kira’s recovery that suffered but Matthews’. I felt we failed to see him work through all that had happened and so his return to normal felt a bit contrived. However, this did not take away from the fact that N.R. Walker gives us a brilliant novel that resonated with truth from beginning to end.
Point of No Return by N.R. Walker is a classic crime novel with a romantic twist that leaves you just a little breathless and smiling by novel’s end. Well written and executed, this novel places N.R. Walker on my auto buy list for sure.