Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
When Stuart “Red” Redmond decided to take a last minute vacation on a gay cruise, he didn’t expect to run into anyone he knew, but fate has a funny way of bring people together. Longing for some time away from the coffee shop he owns, Red is surprised to run into one of his regular customers, Carlos. Thinking it has to be a sign, Red pursues Carlos and is elated when the beautiful man seems to want him back. But even though Carlos says he’s on a working vacation, Red has his doubts and knows Carlos is hiding something from him.
FBI Special Agent Carlos Perez is undercover in hopes of putting an end to the string of assaults on single gay men on similar cruises. He never intended to run into someone he knows, but when he connects with Red, Carlos refuses to let the man slip through his fingers, even if he’s forced to lie to him and tell Red that he works in marketing.
Carlos hates lying to Red, but to tell him the truth is to put him in harm’s way, and Carlos would do anything to keep Red safe. But Red is no one’s fool, he knows something is going on and he’s determined to figure it out. And when the truth comes out, Red must decide whether forgiveness is an option. And now that Red knows the truth, will Carlos be able to protect him from the evil happenings that stalk the passengers of the ship?
Sometimes I need a story that is easy to read and enjoyable in its lack of angst. This is one such story. Undercover Cruising by Cheryl Dragon is super cute. I love the star-crossed lovers feel that flows from this novella. The way Red and Carlos have danced around each other for who knows how long and then they end up together on some random cruise by happenstance. I enjoyed the sweetness of their romance. Now I will say, this book is the epitome of insta-love, but it was too adorable not to enjoy it.
Carlos and Red are a great match. I adore Red for his strong will and determination, and also for his forgiveness. I felt Carlos was the more in depth character, struggling with a large amount of guilt for lying while trying to maintain some sort of normalcy between him and Red. There’s not a lot of difficulty and challenge to these characters—what you see is what you get. But they’re fun and refreshing. I liked that the relationship between them is light and seemingly meant to be. They have their ups and downs but they ultimately have an easy time of it.
The splash of mystery and small bit of tension due to the criminals aboard the cruise is a good storyline. I’ll even admit that, in a book that I’ve already described as light-hearted and fun, I experienced at least one heart-pounding, stressful moment. I like how this author causes those moments with such ease, with a gripping action sequence dropped in the middle of this romance. It breaks up the sugary sweetness that Carlos and Red create when they are together.
Overall, Undercover Cruising is very enjoyable. The light air of the story as well as the easy of the relationship mixed with a little bit of action and mystery makes this novella a winner. I definitely recommend Undercover Cruising by Cheryl Dragon, especially for those of you looking for something fun and something angst-free.