Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
And then there were three…
Hank Edwards delivers once again with a third winning mystery, Roughed Up, in his Up to Trouble series. This installment picks up with Pearce and Mark on vacation in Barbados and, in typical fashion, trouble follows them. However this time, the situation these two men find themselves in threatens to destroy everything they have so painfully and slowly built between them. This time, one of them, may not survive.
Dark, gritty, angsty, and full of heart pumping action–all these could be aptly used to describe Roughed Up. This one had me wanting to look away from the kindle and try to still my rapidly pumping heart. It was sooooo good! While on vacation in the Caribbean, Mark leads Pearce on a tour of the island and ends up stumbling upon what appears to be a sex slavery ring run out of a local bar. With only a glimpse at a girl that Mark could swear he knew, but whom had gone missing while on vacation with her family, he is convinced that something is wrong and cannot let go of the nagging feeling that the girl he saw is indeed an old classmate, Summer Barrington.
In order to assuage Mark, Pearce agrees to return to the bar and ask some questions, but they are met with hostility and silence and no trace of the girl. Mark promises to “let it go” but he can’t, and after a heated argument with Pearce, Mark takes off on his own to investigate the bar again—and disappears.
Ok, no more plot line clues, because you definitely need to read this one yourself—it is amazing!! This series just keeps getting better and better. Once more, there is no easy relationship magic sprinkled over Mark and Pearce—they struggle, as do most couples, and we hear their inner dialogue, their doubts, their anger, and their love. This couple is perhaps two of the most well written characters I have read to date. They are so believable, their words and thoughts steeped in reality and compelling to read each and ever time.
And the story…oh my, the story. My heart was literally in my throat the entire time. The visceral feel to what happens to Mark, the gut-clenching fear it provokes in the reader, and the horrible feeling that even though the drama is over, the long-lasting affects may impact Mark and Pearce of the rest of their lives—it was nothing short of stunning.
So, in turn, the two small points that made me shake my head a bit and wonder why the author chose to move in that direction were actually amplified due to the excellence of the rest of the novel. Without giving too much away, the ending felt rushed…I could not wrap my mind around how quickly Mark recovered and desired intimacy with Pearce—it really was just too soon in my mind. Also, the unresolved aspect of Summer Barrington really jarred me. Unless I missed it, I never felt her story was resolved.
While these two elements may seem big to you, in totality and held up against how truly excellent this novel was overall, they became minor points. Roughed Up was an incredible story that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire way! I highly recommend this story to you—in fact, this series is just one that keeps getting better and better—so read all three, and then send Hank Edwards a piece of fan mail and beg for the fourth installment, like I will be doing right after I post this review!