Title: When the Devil Wants In
Author: Cate Ashwood and J.H. Knight
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary, Mystery
Page Count: 246
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.0 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.
Blurb captures the essence of the book fairly well – Matt is from San Francisco, looking for a new place to put down roots. John is a deeply closeted gay man, living in a town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. His best friend from high school is Chloe and they’ve been pretending to be a couple for as long as they’ve been friends. But Matt shakes John’s carefully constructed world to the core; Matt’s willing to live in the closet for John, but fate decides otherwise.
I greatly enjoyed this story. I could feel the deep South creeping in on the back country roads, with the oppressive summer humidity, the ‘gaters and catfishing, the Southern dialect in the dialog and other little nuances the authors added in. Gimme a glass of sweet tea and I could so pretend I was there.
I thought the authors did a fairly good job of alternating or bouncing between Matt and John’s point of view. I got enough of each character to get a solid feel for their personalities and backgrounds.
I also thought they did a fine job with the “mystery”, lots of happy red herrings and little twists and turns. But it’s here that my small issues with the book crept in – when main characters do really dumb things. And our main character did a really dumb thing. I get the impetus behind why he did it, but…just, ack.
Young Birdy. John’s sister’s little girl. I think the book had her at 5 or 6 if I recall correctly? I felt her dialog and actions came across as much older – 10 or so – and so her character never really sat well with me.
John’s mother. Without dropping spoiler’s, her about face at the end seemed a bit too pat. Personally, I would have preferred a bit more strife, and a resolution being something John and his Mother worked toward off page.
And this last bit is my quirk, but I found the sex scenes way to long. Hot? Yes. Numerous? Yes. And just too many pages. I admit to skipping to get to the “everyone is sated and snuggling” bits.
As I said above, I did really enjoy the dynamic between Matt and John, between Matt and small town Georgia, between John and his family. I liked the touch of mystery and the suspense it added. The book was well written and I would love to read more collaboration between these two authors again.