Rating: 4.5 stars
Art theft with a very interesting twist. That is the first thing that came bouncing into my mind when I began to think about this review. The second thing? A sweet and tender romance wrapped in a good old-fashioned cops and robbers story. How about if we start with the second one and work our way back to the first? Okay? Then read on!
Andrew Grey’s novel Artistic Pursuits has the real feel of a classic crime show. The cops, Frank (an FBI agent) and Leslie (Interpol’s version of an FBI agent), join forces to track down a criminal who has been evading capture for years. The two men meet over a joint task force and sparks fly. They grapple with keeping check over their mutual attraction, reminding themselves over and over again that to hook up while on the job simply is not professional. Goody for us that whereas they are excellent detectives, they are lousy at self-restraint! Their initial contact is perhaps one of the most erotic love scenes I have ever read—and I have read a lot of love scenes!
The care with which Grey writes his characters really shines in these scenes. We see the multi-layers of their personalities, their angst over whether this relationship is right, their worry over the fact that potentially the relationship is doomed before it even begins due to their living an ocean apart, their reluctance to appear “girly,” “needy,” vulnerable. All of these conflicting emotions wrapped up in the guise of being strong and professional. You alternately want to slap theses two on the head and yell ‘wake-up” and wrap them in an embrace and tell them that you understand their fears.
These are tough men who so desperately do not want to appear weak and yet grapple with trust issues that stem from a betrayed former relationship (Frank) and an insecurity that men want him only for his “pretty face” (Leslie). Slowly but surely, I found myself rooting for these guys, wanting them to succeed, to fall in love…to be a happily ever after kind of couple.
Combine all that with an interesting twist in the plot line and you have a really good detective novel. The twist? Well, that would be what the art thieves are stealing and…no…I don’t think I will give that one away! Suffice it to say it includes an international scandal, a shoot out, and a near death injury. No, rather than go into great detail, I think that instead I will recommend you check out this book for yourself. After all, how often does one come across a sweet romance and a good mystery to boot?
Perhaps the one niggle I had with this story is that despite its compelling characters, there was a tendency to play them stereotypically. For instance, Frank was often referred to as “macho” and it was pointed out more than once that this was why he had a difficulty sharing his feelings. Leslie was “pretty” and the more submissive in the relationship, easily dominated by Frank. I wanted to see Grey break these molds once in a while—have these men react a little differently, perhaps switch roles with Leslie pursuing Frank and going all dominant on him!
However, this was a minor detail in an otherwise delightful story! One that does not keep me from highly recommending Artistic Pursuits to you!