In this third book of Rhys Ford’s fabulous Cole McGinnis series, we once again open to our hero in the midst of a crazy case. This time he is fleeing a dog fighter who is shooting at him while Cole runs through the alleyways with a rescued poodle in a baby carrier strapped to his chest. Sadly this is all too familiar to Cole who seems to always end up on jobs that start out straightforward and end up being a huge mess. To top things off, he is still mentally and physically recovering from his last case, one that left him seriously injured and his beloved office manager, Claudia, still at home recuperating.
After dealing with the dognappers, Cole finds himself with another case that seems simple but turns out to be anything but. He is hired by a Korean fortune teller who is convinced that those around her are being killed. Cole doesn’t think there is much to the case or to tie the victims together, but he feels for the woman and her fears and agrees to take the case. But the more he digs, the more he finds connections between Madame Sun and the victims, as well as a rival fortune teller who seems to be up to no good. Not to mention more victims pile up and soon an even more tangled web of connections emerges. In this close Korean community, everyone seems to know or be related to everyone else and the case becomes more and more complicated with no real leads.
At the same time that Cole is dealing with his case, he and his boyfriend Jae are also encountering challenges. Jae still struggles with the same fears and issues that have plagued him all along — how to deal with being gay with a family that will certainly abandon him if they find out. It is clear that Jae is becoming more and more committed to Cole (and Cole has been all in for a long time now), but it is still heartbreaking to watch him struggle. He loves his family and has been raised in a culture where family is everything. The idea of disappointing them is crushing to Jae. But at the same time, he is coming to love Cole and realize how much he needs him as part of his life.
I loved the relationship development we get here in Dirty Laundry. For those of us who have been following the series, we have seen the progress that Jae has made in opening himself up to a relationship to Cole, and we have also seen just how hard that is for him. In this book, we really see great strides for Jae, even as he faces some of his biggest challenges. I feel like these guys have really reached a turning point. Where in the past there has always seemed a fine line between whether or not things can work for them in the long term, I finished this book really feeling like things are solid. And boy do I love Jae and Cole together. First off, Ford can write the heck out of a sex scene. OMG are these guys crazy hot together! And I love their connection, their cultural clash, different personalities, and different outlooks on life. But at the same time they just fit together so well and are such an amazing couple. Love them.
Once again Ford combines a great romance with a fabulous mystery. In the last book one of my issues was that I found the mystery plot a bit confusing, with all names and various players. This time Ford helps us out with not only a Korean glossary, but also a cast of characters. There are still a lot of folks to keep track of here, and I will admit my anglo-centric brain had some trouble occasionally remembering who was who, but overall it was a big improvement and a great help. As usual the mystery crackles with energy and a bit of crazy, while being full of lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing throughout the story, both as to the identity of the killer and just what would happen next.
I also want to mention my total love for Bobby, Cole’s best friend. I have noticed that in series with recurring MCs, it is even more critical to have great side characters to break things up when reading about the same two guys over and over. In this series, we have Bobby (along with Claudia, though she plays a smaller role in this book). Bobby is gruff and strong and a total hard ass. He doesn’t take any crap from Cole and doesn’t pull his punches. But at the same time, he is so gentle and loving and caring for Cole when he needs that emotional support. I love that contrast and think he is such a fabulous character. And I can not wait for his promised story.
So I just loved Dirty Laundry and thought it was excellent. Definitely my favorite book so far in this really fabulous series. I think you could probably squeak by and read this as a standalone, though you would miss a lot of the deeper issues in Jae and Cole’s relationship. But honestly, you want to read all of these books. They are just so good and definitely worth your time and money. So another wonderful installment and very highly recommended.
Cover Review: Yum, I love this one! This is exactly how I picture both Cole and Jae and they are just gorgeous here. Those are totally Jae lips. So nicely done.
Rhys has generously offered up a copy of any book from her backlist, including Dirty Laundry. Just leave a comment below to enter. The contest ends Monday, April 23rd at 11:59 pm EST.
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