Title: Mixed Signals (Second Edition)
Author: Cooper West
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Politics
Page Count: 234
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Devastatingly handsome pilot Frank Sheldon is doing his best to avoid his inheritance of money, charm, and good looks by rebuilding his life on his own terms after being discharged from the Air Force just before the repeal of DADT. When he unexpectedly meets the eccentric geek Benjamin Kaplan, sparks don’t quite fly, despite Benjamin’s obvious interest. Frank is not one to back down from a challenge, but what does any of that have to do with his sister’s campaign for governor, or the muckraking political website attacking her opponent, who just happens to be Frank’s unlamented, very closeted, ex-boyfriend? It’s hard to fall in love when all you are getting is mixed signals.
FYI – “Mixed Signals” started out as a short novella (70 pages) in 2011 and has been expanded into a novel in this second edition. I must admit that I was charmed by this story of two men – one a former Air Force pilot forced out of his dream career by DADT, and the second a genius whose life plans changed when his parents died and he became the guardian of his younger sister.
The pilot, Frank Sheldon, is instantly a fascinating character. “He was a pilot with the mind of an engineer and the body of an underwear model.” Sure, he knows he’s handsome (and wealthy and smart) but weary of being judged solely on his amazing good looks, i.e. “His personality had always been incidental in his looks.” Frank is immediately intrigued by Dr. Benjamin Kaplan, “stocky and a little unkempt in wrinkled khakis and a rumpled polo with coffee stains down the front, [with a] curly head of nearly black hair.”
Cooper West sets these two men loose in a plot with politic muckraking websites, video game development, flying cars, industry-leading billionaires, the hard-hitting political campaign, blackmail … and yet doesn’t lose focus on the MCs, plus nicely fleshing out a large cast of secondary characters. I liked all the various subplots and don’t want to spoil anything for readers, but suffice to say it definitely held my interest.
The relationship between Frank and Benjamin develops slowly and first as friendship, as Frank agrees to Benjamin’s moritorium against becoming romantically involved, until almost the end of the book (around 88%), but the long slow sizzle definitely works IMHO. The ending is a bit abrupt, and I would have liked to see Frank and Benjamin’s relationship a year or two out, but everything wraps up nicely and this is a satisfying read. 4 stars.