"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde
Well, this was... different?
I'm really not sure what happened. I was looking forward to this one. Cops undercover, a romance and a mystery? I'm usually a goner! Here? Not so much.
Firstly, there were some things I liked. The writing was solid, the characters were "good" enemies and their feelings for each other changed quite nicely. Or more precisely, they gradually got their heads out of their asses. It's not easy to write a double-in-the-closet. You're bound to run into some repetitive issues, thoughts and problems and in general it was well done here. Bonus for the steam, that was really well written.
But quite some things didn't sit well with me. Let's start with the crime aspect. I've been in love with crime ans suspense for a long time. From Agatha Christie to Lee Child, from Kathy Reichs to Josh Lanyon, I tried it and loved a lot of myteries. And I'm aware of the fact that all these authors (except for Reichs maybe) are far away from being crime fighting experts, so I don't really expect to read perfectly realistic books regarding procedure, rules and training. But, and it's a big but for me, it has to be at least kind of believable. That didn't really happen here for me. Two cops - who hate each other, at least officially - are send undercover almost completely unprepared? Yeah, no. That just didn't fly with me. Also, it's fine that they have to keep their cover. So some PDA and play acting has to be done. But, come on! They are expected to play their part in a group orgy/partner swapping situation, even though both are firmly in the closet, therefore straight in public? Show me a straight cop who could pull that off convincingly! You can't play straight and you can't play gay for a little bit, then wash your hands off it and go back to "normal" just like that! And every supervisor knows it.
But okay, I tried to keep an open mind. It's just fiction, after all. Right? So I kept reading. And it wasn't really a bad read. Just... strange. Where was the investigating? The search for evidence? The dialogue with other members of the community? Most of it just happened, because everyone was basically over each other all the time. Also, what was up with their houses? Why did they even have them? It's not like anybody respected your closed doors. At all. Just no. And while the mystery itself was good - because it kept me guessing who the bad guy was until the end - I also felt somewhat cheated. Because it wasn't as if I had a chance of finding out who he was before he was revealed. The only way of guessing was the slow process of elimination. Not because of actual evidence, but because all but two men were mentioned by name in a way that made it impossible for them to be the villain. And the epiliogue threw me completely. That cliffhanger was just not cool. I was hurting enough for Todd before! Now this? I'm not even sure I want to read the second book.
Another thing were the "gatherings". I really don't have a problem with orgies, partner swapping or menage in my books. Sure, it's not my favorite thing to read about, but it also doesn't turn me off too much. If it were just the "gatherings" where people swapped partners, or came on to each other. But it wasn't! Everyone ate somebody else's face at some point! I even lost track who was with whom at one point, because I couldn't keep up with which one of the guys was "swapping" at the moment and who actually wanted to sleep with his own partner for a change. And everybody got irritated with Will when he finally set some boundaries? What?! I was cheering him on something fierce!
Talking about boundaries: I'm all for relationship development while working a case. Living and working together so closely is predestined for it. But it just didn't sit well with me how much relationship and sex was going on while they didn't get any kind of work done - except for calling their respective partners for research results. It got really bad when I read a passage about Todd that just about broke my heart, and was thrown into a hot sex scene between the MCs right after. It made me feel so queasy and I was actually tempted to skim it, because I was so uncomfortable. Which is NOT a good thing for romantic suspense. I was so not happy with this one.
One other thing that bugged me were the nicknames! After the first two or three, I was still somewhat grinning. But after a while it didn't just get old, it annoyed me. Especially because both did it, at least once every ten pages. Creative in the beginning, way too much in the end.
So, all in all, it was an okay read. I love the combination of romance and mystery, but the execution here just wasn't really for me. I can see why others loved it so much, I guess I just want different things when it comes to romantic suspense novels.