FBI Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is finally getting close to making a case against mobster Dean Maxfield. An eye witness has reported seeing Maxfield shooting an associate and this could be just the break Mac needs. But as it turns out, Henry Page has no interest in sticking around to testify when Maxfield is sure to be after him, and he manages to give Mac the slip.
Henry has been surviving on his wits for years and he is a clever con man with a knack for getting out of tricky situations. When Mac finally tracks him down again, he is determined not to let Henry out of his sight. But Henry is definitely more than a handful and he makes Mac alternately crazy, horny, frustrated, and amused.
With the bad guys after Henry, he knows he should ditch Mac again and find safety on his own. He is pretty sure the FBI can’t protect him from a mob hit, especially because there seems to be a mole in the department. But the more time he spends with Mac, the harder it is for Henry to leave. Especially because somehow Mac is starting to find Henry more endearing than frustrating and the guys are growing closer. But with trouble at the Bureau and bad guys on their tails, Henry and Mac must put their feelings for each other aside and fight for their lives.
Oh, this story was so much fun! I wasn’t really sure what to expect here in terms of tone, but this falls squarely in the “lots of fun” category of the law enforcement genre. The book really rests squarely on the shoulders of our lovable con man Henry Page. He gets what he wants by pretty much charming the pants off everyone. Somehow everyone loves Henry, so he gets away with just about anything and people still adore him, even when they are the ones he fools. It really makes the story so much fun as we watch Henry in action, knowing he is setting something up and watching it play out. What the authors do so well is make Henry totally endearing even as we see him sometimes doing not so good things. Part of this is because he is so charming, I just couldn’t help but love him. His scams cracked me up and I was so impressed I could ignore the bad things he sometimes did. But what really pulls things together is that we see Henry’s vulnerable side as well. We see his fears and insecurities that he keeps hidden and we learn a bit about his difficult past. So we want him to get away with his cons rather than seeing him as the bad guy.
So if Henry is the endearing charmer, Mac is his perfect foil. Mac who is a by the book guy, who just wants to catch the bad guys and who doesn’t have time for Henry’s antics. Henry who never stops talking, who is constantly outsmarting them, and who has an ass that Mac can’t stop staring at. Henry makes Mac crazy and frustrated, but yet Mac kind of wants him too. They are the perfect balance for one another, and over the course of the book we see how Mac makes Henry want to settle down and do the right thing with regard to testifying, and Henry makes Mac loosen up and have a little fun.
Another little bit of fun running through the story is the Shakespeare theme (as you could probably guess by the title). A lot of threads and quotes from the various plays are worked in and it adds some more cleverness to the story as we see it play out. I will admit that I am not well versed enough in Shakespeare to pick up all of the humor, but I still was familiar enough that it added a nice little element to the story.
This book is the first of a series featuring Mac and Henry, so while we get some resolution to the immediate issue of the mobster and Henry’s testimony, the larger issue of the relationship between these two guys is still ongoing. This story is pretty tame on the sex scale (especially for these two authors), since the guys are still dancing around each other for most of the book. So we are getting a slow build here that presumably will develop further as the series goes on. Along the same lines, we just start to get bits and pieces of Henry’s backstory here. There are definitely some threads that are not really fully addressed, again presumably something that will play out in future books. So we don’t fully get to know what is making him tick here quite as much as I would like. But I will be patient for the next installments.
The Two Gentlemen of Altona is just a really fun story. Henry is such a fabulous character, I completely adored him. He cracked me up, made me love him, and fascinated me with his clever plans. But he also shows his softer side, especially as he gets to know Mac, so we see the sweetness as well, which really works nicely. I liked this first story a lot and am really looking forward to the rest of the series.
P.S. Love the cover. The box of doughnuts connects perfectly with the story and it is just overall really nice looking.