Rating: 5 stars
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So, a few years after the release of Holed Up, Hank Edwards gives both his readers and himself, I think, a very nice gift…a sequel, Shacked Up. Once again the crusty, sexy FBI agent Aaron Pearce is on the prowl, but this time, no further than his desk. For, you see, the sequel picks up just a few short months after the close of the previous novel in which Pearce got a knife embedded in his shoulder and is now in intensive physical therapy and remanded to his office chair until he has completely recovered and cleared for duty.
Now, those of us who remember Pearce are just shaking our heads at this explosive dynamo of a man being confined to computer work. In the meanwhile, Mark, former protected witness, has agreed to move from Detroit to DC, and, amazingly, into Pearce’s apartment. However, all is not flowers and kisses in their humble abode. All of Mark’s belongings sit, still in their boxes, in the spare room while Pearce struggles with giving up even a simple bit of shelf space to poor Mark. Pearce loves him, this he does not doubt, but how to show it, how to not snap and growl at poor Mark because Pearce is so unhappy about being on desk work, that is the tricky part that Pearce struggles with every day. It is touch and go in many ways in this second installment, and not until the bitter end, do we get any assurance that these two men can actually make a go of it as loving partners.
Couple all this with a mysterious work partner for Mark at the catering business, theft of important information from just about every Capitol Hill party Mark caters, and the overhanging threat of Mark being followed by some mysterious person and you have a thriller that streaks from one exciting, heart-hammering moment to another.
In Shacked Up, author Hank Edwards hits his stride. His characters become more solidly fleshed out and truer to the voice he has leant them. The dialogue is more sophisticated and the plot line more involved. You can really see Edward’s growth as an author and the reason why he has become known as such a consummate storyteller.
Pearce struggles mightily with the fear that he may lose Mark, not only physically as the threat of Pearce’s ex-boyfriend and now rogue FBI agent, Morgan, is still on the loose; but also because Pearce has never really had a relationship before—has never really had someone to come home to each night, to care for and to love. He makes so many small mistakes that Mark begins to really doubt that the two of them can actually succeed as lovers. The two men stumble along blindly, each knowing that they love the other but afraid to say it out loud.
Shacked Up was an excellent sequel that did what most sequels fail to do—evolve the characters, make them even more interesting, and involve the reader more deeply into their lives. I recommend this second installment to you—but do read these in order to get the most out of the series.