Title: Not Dead Yet
Author: Jenn Burke
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: February 4, 2019
Genre(s): Paranormal Mystery / Romance
Page Count: 270
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Dying isn’t what it used to be.
Wes Cooper was dead. Then he wasn’t—though he’s not exactly alive, either. As an immortal not-ghost, he can transition between this world and the otherplane, which makes him the perfect thief for hire. For seventy years he’s made a “living” returning items to their rightful owners, seeing his fair share of the bizarre in the process. But he’s never witnessed murder. Until now.
His latest mission brings him more than he bargained for: a very-dead actor who is definitely going to stay that way. It’s just Wes’s luck that his ex-boyfriend, Detective Hudson Rojas, is assigned to the case. Hudson broke Wes’s heart years ago—and could again, given he’s rocking a hot silver-fox look that shouldn’t be legal.
As they work together to track down the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, it becomes clear Wes and Hudson have unfinished business. And when a secret Hudson’s been keeping threatens more than just their happiness, it might mean the end of their not-life together—permanently.
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Not Dead Yet Series
Call him, Lexi had said. As if it was easy to break more than three decades of silence. I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to hear his voice. I didn’t want to imagine how time had treated him—but now that my brain had gone there, it was all I could think about. Would he be bald? Going gray? Would he have a beer gut? Kids?
He was as gay as me, but it had been the mid-eighties when we’d broken up and Hudson had made it clear that openly being with me was something he could never do. Despite all but living together for five years, despite me worrying constantly that this undercover assignment was going to be the one where he got hurt and no one knew to tell me, he’d refused to put me down as his emergency contact.
They would know what it means, he said.
Logically, I grasped why he was afraid. He was in a macho job, one where he had to trust his colleagues to have his back, and he couldn’t give them any reason not to trust him. Back then—hell, even today—cops got killed for being gay. Not directly, maybe, but from a slow backup response or lack of support when requested. The closet was the only truly safe answer—though that could be argued too. I knew all that. But emotionally…
Denial had already killed me once.
Was Lexi right? Should I do more? I couldn’t see how my information would be useful, but I wasn’t a cop. Maybe it would help. Maybe something I saw would be the key to everything.
I spun my phone on the coffee table. “Phone the switchboard, or whatever the hell they call it now,” I muttered. “Leave him a message.” Because it was almost 8:00 p.m.—he’d be done for the night. Now was the perfect time to call, actually. I wouldn’t have to talk to him.
I pulled up Google, found the generic number for the Toronto Police headquarters, called it and pressed a button to speak to a person. When someone answered, I asked for Officer Hudson Rojas.
“Do you know what division he’s in?”
“Ah—no. I don’t.” When we met, he’d been in traffic, but the undercover assignments he’d taken on in the last part of our relationship meant he’d gotten transferred. I had no idea to which division. He’d stopped talking to me about his work at some point—probably by the third undercover stint in as many months.
“One moment please.”
The line went to hold music. Then, much sooner than I expected, it started to ring. One ring, two…it’d go to voicemail soon and then I could—
The familiar, sexy roll of his surname made me want to whimper. Oh my god, it was him. Not voicemail, not a recording. Him.
“Hello?” he prompted.
His voice was deeper and rougher than I remembered. Kind of like gravel scraping against my nerve endings—nerve endings that were never that sensitive with anyone else.
“I can hear you breathing and I’ve got your number on my screen, so you might as well say something,” Hudson rumbled. “It’ll save me the time of reverse lookup and tracking you down for pissing me—”
“Hi, Hud. It’s me—Wes Cooper.”
There was a satisfyingly long pause before Hudson said, “Wes?”
“Yeah.” I let out a small chuckle. “You remember me.”
“Of course I remember you, I— Holy shit. Wes.” Was it my imagination, or was that a smile in his voice? Could he actually be happy to hear from me? “I never thought— How the hell have you been?”
“Good.” How else did you sum up thirty-three years to a former lover? “You?”
“Good. Yeah. Wow.”
And now the awkward descended, along with a laden silence. I hadn’t forgotten my reason for the call, but how the hell did I segue into that? Great to hear your voice, Hudson, and by the way, when I was a ghost in Meredith Montague’s house this afternoon, I witnessed her murder.
“Um…so still a cop, huh?” Brilliant addition to the conversation, Wes. Jesus.
“Thanks.” I heard shifting on the line, and I imagined Hudson leaning back in his chair. “So why’d you call?”
“I guess it’s a little hard to believe I’d reach out after all this time to say hi.”
“A little, yeah.”
“Right. So, um…you know Meredith Montague?”
“The actor who was murdered this afternoon?” Hudson’s voice lost its happy glow and grew sharp edges. “What about her?”
Damn, this was harder than I thought—and I’d known it was going to be tough. I wished I could whip out a snappy quip, but I wasn’t that much of an asshole that I’d make fun of a woman’s death. Especially not one I’d witnessed. “I saw it.”
I wasn’t gonna have to spell it out, was I? I pressed my lips together, hard enough that they went numb, then spit out, “Her murder. Okay? I saw her get killed.”
A sound came across the line—a sound I shouldn’t have recognized after all this time. A sharp inhale with a soft grunt edging into a sigh. The sound of Hudson wanting desperately to react but holding back until he could control himself. It brought back memories of how often he’d looked at me, caught between frustration and resignation at my career. He’d never approved of how I made my living, and unlike Lexi, never hesitated to tell me I should do something else.
“Christ,” he finally said. “Let me guess—you’re the one who called it in anonymously.”
Another cut-off sound. “I’m coming over.”
Okay, that I hadn’t anticipated. “No. You don’t have to—”
“I damn well do, because I’m not taking your fucking statement over the goddamned phone. You’re at the same address?”
“Be there in twenty.” The line went dead.
I stared at my phone for a moment. Then I carefully put it down on the coffee table, scrambled to my feet and darted into the bedroom to raid my closet. If I was gonna see my ex-boyfriend, it was not happening in sweats and a ratty Edmonton Oilers T-shirt I’d owned since before we broke up.
I was going to be shiny and sparkly, damn it. An ornament of look what the fuck you missed.
About Jenn Burke
Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.
Jenn is the author of a number of paranormal and science fiction romance titles, including the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (authored with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press.
She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.Facebook GoodReads Twitter Website Instagram Pinterst tumblr More Author Reviews