parting shotStory Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars

Narrator: Tristan James
Length: 8 hours and 2 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Book Buy Links:  Amazon | All Romance

After begin set up by mutual friends, Chicago homicide detetive Duncan Steil has just spent a hot night with billionaire Aaron Sutter. Now Duncan is off to New York for an undercover assignment and finds himself missing Aaron more than he expected.  Duncan is not out, and aside from one relationship that failed due to him being closeted, he is pretty much a hookup only kind of guy. But when Aaron comes to New York to visit him and the guys get some more time alone together, it is clear to Duncan that he wants more from Aaron than he ever expected.

Despite the strong feelings between the guys right from the start, life begins to get in the way for them. Duncan is undercover and his life is in danger with his attempts to capture some big time criminals.  Not to mention that no one at work knows he is gay, and dating a billionaire isn’t exactly low profile.  Aaron’s father is trying to take over his company, threatening that the board will overthrow Aaron if they learn he is gay.  The timing is just terrible for the guys and despite their feelings for one another, it seems like a relationship may not be possible.

Neither Duncan nor Aaron is willing to settle for being apart, however, and are determined to make it work. Once they make up their minds, the guys jump head first into a hot and heavy relationship full of sex, intensity, and heat.  They are both aggressive, strong willed men who are used to taking charge and having others follow. Somehow when they are together though, the men are able to make it work, each able to open up and be a little vulnerable.  Aaron finally finds someone who can see past his money and really care about him as a person.  And Duncan finally has love and companionship he has really been missing.

When Duncan’s job requires him to go back undercover and Aaron gets pulled into the case, however, the life they are building together may be at risk.  As the investigation gets more dangerous, Aaron and Duncan must fight for their lives to stop the bad guys before they lose their chance at a future together.

Oooh, I have been waiting for this one for a while and I am so excited to finally get Aaron’s story.  We first met Aaron Sutter way back in the second volume of A Matter of Time as Jory’s boyfriend while he and Sam were apart.  Aaron has played a role in all the other books and I have always found him a really interesting character.  Aaron is unbelievably rich and powerful and he wanted Jory desperately. It has always been clear that they were not suited to one another, but over the books we have really seen Aaron grow as a character from someone not always likable to a guy I really cared about and wanted to see happy.

Aaron is so driven and powerful at work, and so absurdly wealthy, that he lives in a world so different from most people.  Everyone either wants to take advantage of him, or wants to put up walls to show they can be independent.  It takes someone like Duncan to find that perfect balance, to be a strong person on his own, but also be comfortable allowing Aaron to take care of him.  For those who have read Calmes’ Acrobat, you may remember Duncan as Nate’s former boyfriend in that story.  He lost that relationship due to his unwillingness to come out, but here we see that when Duncan finally finds the man he really wants, he is willing to let go of those reservations and just go for it.

Now I will say, these are some major domineering alpha men here.  They are pushy and confident and know what they want and expect to get it.  They are full of growly possessiveness, all “mine” and claiming and “no one but me will ever touch you.” Not only that, but after just a few encounters, they are pretty much in it for good and ready to settle into life together, having barely had any real time together.   In real life, I would probably be running far from both of them, to be honest. But here they just totally worked for me. First off, these guys just go crazy for the possessiveness in the other. While I would be ready for a restraining order, both Aaron and Duncan get super hot over their partner’s need to claim them.  So it clearly works for them and makes them super hot.  And speaking of super hot… holy cow are these guys sexy together.  Growly and gruff and intensely passionate. There is so much chemistry and heat between these two that they burn up the page.  They are just crazy hot together.  I also think it works because we see that things aren’t perfectly smooth sailing just because they want them to be.  They have never really spent any real life time together, and we can see how this impacts their relationship as they try to navigate things like Duncan’s job and Aaron’s fame.  So even though emotionally they go from zero to a hundred incredibly fast, we can see that it takes some time for them to really settle in together.

As with the rest of the series, this story has a nice mix of romance and suspense.  Duncan has an early undercover case that gets scary and exciting.  Then later in the book he goes undercover once again, this time with Aaron.  Here we get lots of suspense and tension, plus some extra helpings of heat.  The investigation goes in some interesting directions I wasn’t expecting and it adds a lot to the overall story.

I listened to this in audiobook and once again we have a new narrator for the series (our fourth in what is essentially 6 books/volumes).  I was sort of mixed on Tristan James here.  He has a really distinct voice that I can only describe as languid. It is sort of slow and drawling (though not southern sounding) with a bit of a breathy tone. It gives everything this really laid back, liquidy feel that takes a little getting used to. I am not sure it really suits two such aggressive, intense men as Aaron and Duncan. I would have expected them a little more hard and clipped and not so slow and laid back.

The biggest issue for me, however, is just about everyone sounded the same, especially Aaron and Duncan.  I found myself constantly confused about who was speaking, especially when they were in a conversation together.  I would have to really focus on the dialog and often mentally track back in the conversation to figure out who was saying what.  The supporting characters felt equally generic, some of them having accents that would come and go (like Aaron’s brother Max) and none of them distinct enough to tell them apart.  So this was a big problem for me, even though for the most part I enjoyed James’ voice.  I also noted James refer to Jory as “Yory” more than once, which seems like an inexcusable error.  On the plus side, James narration really worked well for the sex scenes.  These are particularly hard to do well and he really infused them with the passion and intensity that they needed.

Oh, and for your Sam and Jory fans, we do see a bit of Sam here and definitely some references to that couple over the course of the book.  This story picks up just around the end of But For You (the guys have their first date during that story, but it is all recapped here so this works fine whether you read that book or not).  Of course, I love Jory and would have loved to see him as well, but I really enjoyed finally seeing Aaron get his happy ending.

So overall I really loved this one. I really liked Aaron and Duncan together, both despite and because of their total intense possessiveness and growly need for one another. Calmes does a wonderful job of really giving both these guys strength and vulnerability so they need one another but can stand up for themselves as well.  They are super sexy together and this story is one of the hottest in the series. Add in the great thriller end and overall I thought this one was fabulous.

Cover Review: Oh, and how about that sexy cover?  Yum

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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