Title: When The Devil Wants In (Southern Series #1)
Author: Cate Ashwood and J.H. Knight
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 30th 2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, Murder/Mystery
Page Count: 246 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
John Turner has been living a lie most of his life. Growing up in the rural Georgia town of Magnolia Ridge, he’s only ever let one person truly know him: his best friend, Chloe. To the rest of the world, they’re the perfect couple, but just between them, she’s helping John hide in plain sight.
Matt Kinsley, a cop from San Francisco, moves to town looking for a slower pace and to reconnect with his Southern roots. Starting over in Magnolia Ridge means taking a step into the closet, but Matt finds that with John for company, he doesn’t mind so much.
As the two start to explore a possible relationship, a horrific murder rips the town apart but brings John and Matt together in ways neither could’ve imagined. Matt must decide where his loyalties lie while John resists the urge to run again. Together, they have to discover who the real devil is before another life is destroyed.
John Turner is deeply closeted, and with the help of his best friend Chloe, no one seems to suspect a thing. He travels a little under an hour and a half away from his home in sleepy Magnolia Ridge, Georgia to Jacksonville to pick up tricks, and doesn’t think much will ever change. But things do begin to change when Matt Kinsley, a cop from San Francisco, moves to town. The two grow close and begin to explore a closeted relationship, but when murder rocks their town it threatens to tear them apart.
Saturated in the imagery of the Deep South this has some good points going for it, but it missed the mark for me in deciding whether it was a romance or mystery, and I felt like it ended up doing neither part justice.
John and Matt hook up and begin their relationship, but I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t just because the two were the only gay guys they knew in town. Towards the end, after the murder, I began to see a strengthening of their bond, but I would have like more.
Even though it’s told from Matt and John’s POV, and there’s a nice amount of tension throughout built upon John’s need for secrecy about his sexuality and then the mystery element, I felt like it spent too much time on the setting, and setting everything up, and not enough on the people or the mystery.
The mystery was another point that fell flat for me, with the conclusion completely unsatisfying and frankly, not very well explained. It happens late in the story and just wasn’t very well fleshed out. There were some holes that I would have really liked to be filled and more explanation of the crime itself.
When The Devil Wants In is written with a lot of imagery and as a reader I could practically smell the magnolia and feel the sweat dripping from the humidity and heat, but there just wasn’t enough of either the romance or the mystery to make this a winner for me and that was disappointing. However, two scenes – both involving the grieving parents of the murder victim – had me in full tears with hitching breaths so I’m rounding up to 3 stars.
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