Title: Skin and Bone (Digging Up Bones #2)
Author: TA Moore
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Genre(s): Suspense, Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Cloister Witte and his K-9 partner, Bourneville, find the lost and bring them home.
But the job doesn’t always end there.
Janet Morrow, a young trans woman, lies in a coma after wandering away from her car during a storm. But just because Cloister found the young tourist doesn’t mean she’s home. What brought her to Plenty, California… and who didn’t want her to leave?
With the help of Special Agent Javi Merlo, who continues to deny his growing feelings for the rough-edged deputy, Cloister unearths a ten-year-old conspiracy of silence that taps into Plenty’s history of corruption.
Janet Morrow’s old secrets aren’t the only ones coming to light. Javi has tried to put his past behind him, but some people seem determined to pull his skeletons out of the closet. His dark history with a senior agent in Phoenix complicates not just the investigation but his relationship with Cloister.
And since when has he cared about that?
FYI – “Skin and Bones” is a sequel to TA Moore’s excellent “Bone to Pick” and cannot be read as a stand-alone. You’ll want to start at the beginning of this excellent series!
Special Agent Javi Merlo and Deputy Cloister are back, working on the case of a young trans woman found in dire condition, after which Cloister gets almost run over by a pickup, ending up with a broken arm, cuts and bruises. Javi tells himself he’s inviting Cloister to stay with him only because of his injuries, because their relationship (incredibly steamy as it may be) is only sex .. right?
Javi grimaced at himself. His sex life was a lot simpler when he thought Cloister was just a hot ass attached to an uncomplicated redneck. Now he had to decide what was more important – friendship or fucking. If Javi made the first move, that would be the end of any more hookups with Cloister. You didn’t try to patch things up with a fuck buddy. That was for friends and boyfriends. Javi was no one’s idea of boyfriend material.
The relationship between Javi and Cloister is the heart of this story IMHO. Cloister continually struggles with the night years ago his brother disappeared and his repressed memories of that night. Cloister’s got issues, but they are out in the open, while Javi struggles with what happened in New Orleans and how it will affect his job posting with the FBI when the new special agent is assigned. I love the dichotomy between the two men … “one of them incapable of offering more, the other incapable of accepting what was on offer…”
Personally, I found the murder/mystery plot somewhat convoluted and not quite fully explained enough, and maybe because I loved the relationship aspect SO darn much, the murder seemed to drag down the pace of the book. Also, we are teased through most of the book about what happened in Phoenix, and Javi’s relationship with Kinkaid … but little is resolved at the end of the book. Mind you, I love foreshadowing but c’mon, throw us a bone (see what I did there?) and give us a bit more development rather than having to wait for the next book in the series! But those are relatively small niggles given the enormous pleasure of reading “Skin and Bone” which I give 4.5 stars.