Rating: 4.5 stars
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As a young man, Lucky Lucklighter found himself on the wrong side of the law, ending up as a drug thief and the lover of a drug lord. When things fall apart and Lucky is arrested, he gets an offer he can’t refuse — time out of jail in exchange for putting his considerable skills and knowledge to good use. For the last eight years, Lucky has been finishing out his sentence working for the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, helping them track down those illegally selling and distributing pharmaceutical drugs. Although he is good at his job and likes the work, Lucky knows he is still not a free man and his life is not yet his own. He has been counting the days until the end of his sentence when he can finally disappear into a new life.
Two months before he is due to be released, Lucky is assigned a new case with a new partner, Bo Schollenberger. Lucky had hoped to ride out the last couple of months with an easy task and training a newbie is not his idea of fun. But it turns out there is more to Bo than meets the eye. He is not as wide eyed and innocent as he appears, nor does he take any of Lucky’s crap. Bo is a former Marine with a troubled past that rivals Lucky’s and the two find mutual understanding that Lucky doesn’t experience with too many other people. Bo turns out to be more than a match for Lucky, and in time, their partnership not only becomes physical, but emotional as well.
But Lucky’s time on the job is running out and he knows Bo is better off without him. He has never considered settling down, always assuming he would make a clean break when his time was done, but now unexpected emotions are making it hard to imagine leaving. At the same time, the men are working hard to solve their case and bring down the bad guys, all while making sure they are not discovered and can make it out safely.
This was such a good story, with really great main characters and a really interesting look into the world of illegal drug distribution. In this case, rather than dealing with drugs on the streets, we see the drug trade from a different angle. Here big pharmaceutical companies, along with clinics and drug disposal companies, make a fortune diverting prescription drugs into the hands of well-paying clients. Winters does a great job of giving us an inside look into all the different players and how they manipulate the system. She provides lots of detail, while at the same time never overloading us or making it feel like an information dump. I found it all quite fascinating and the suspense part of the story to be exciting and very well done.
I also loved Lucky and Bo together. The story is told from Lucky’s POV and it is clear he is a tough guy who has put up a nice wall between him and everyone else. He never feels part of the team at work, sure everyone looks down upon him as an ex-con on a leash. He never really sees how valued he is there and how much they rely on his expertise. Over the course of the book we get a good sense of Lucky’s past, his transition from small time thief to a big part of the drug operation with the help of his lover Victor Mangiardi. Despite the fact that Lucky was involved in criminal behavior with a man who did awful things, we never get the sense that Lucky is truly a bad person himself. He is a guy who got caught up in that world as a young man, but has now fully embraced his role as crime fighter and works incredibly hard to stop these guys from bringing more drugs on the streets. But the end of his relationship and the bringing down of Victor’s crime ring took a toll on Lucky. He has a hard time opening up to anyone and the guilt and pain from his past experiences cause him to keep people at a distance.
No matter the face he shows to Bo, however, his partner refuses to let Lucky’s prickly demeanor bother him. Bo gives as good as he gets and it is clear that he sees more to Lucky that what is on the surface. And Bo has his own pain, his experiences with both his home life and in the military leaving emotional scars with lasting repercussions. Despite being so outwardly different, these men have a connection, a mutual understanding, that just ties them together. I loved their banter and the way they struggle with each other, at the same time as each man is becomes a total softie where the other is concerned. They both have such as sweet toughness about them and I loved these guys together.
So overall I really enjoyed Diversion. Winters gives us a great combination of exciting suspense, interesting plot, and really nicely layered characters. I really liked this one and would definitely recommend it.