Cliff Garcia has come back to his small Florida hometown. He escaped Sandy Bottom Bay when he was eighteen, heading for the west coast, LA, and college. He’s not exactly happy to be back, but he’s joined the local police force, and this time, he’s not hiding who he is or the fact that he’s gay. Shortly after his return, Cliff sees a beautiful red-haired man, and he is instantly smitten. Though he has no idea who the man is, Cliff wants him.
Drew Drummond comes from a long line of criminals and trouble makers. If there’s one thing that the Drummonds are known for in Sandy Bottom Bay, it’s that. Fortunately, he’s mostly escaped their criminal leanings, and the worst he does is read tarot cards for tourists and locals alike. Drew doesn’t really read the cards so much as the person in front of him, and does his best to give them predictions that are hopeful and helpful. He’s a good hearted person at his core, and doesn’t particularly love his chosen line of work, but he inherited the position from his grandmother and it pays the bills. At least this way he doesn’t have to resort to more illegal pursuits.
Cliff can’t believe that the man he’s attracted to is a Drummond, but there’s no use in denying the way he’s drawn to Drew. When Drew is injured, Cliff is on the scene, and takes even more interest in the man. Drew needs someone to stay with him when he’s released from the hospital, and Cliff just happens to be losing his place to stay. Cliff agrees to stay at Drew’s place and take care of him, though they both realize it’s probably a bad idea. They quickly fall into a relationship
Sandy Bottom Bay is known for its hauntings, and while Cliff himself doesn’t believe in the supernatural, a lot of people do. After Drew’s head injury, he starts getting visions when he reads the cards. But when he tells Cliff about it, the man explodes. But it turns out that Drew’s vision might be the key to exposing a hoax and the motive for a murder. If only Cliff can see past his prejudices and believe his boyfriend.
All right, guys, I’m going to be honest here. This book had a lot of promise, and there were things I definitely liked about it. But the story fell apart a bit for me in the latter part, and I found some plot points a bit dissatisfying. Ultimately, I liked it, but I definitely had some issues.
Where this book really shined was twofold. The writing was fantastic and the pacing was really good. The story moved along at the perfect pace, neither rushed nor overwritten, and I had no trouble following along. Burn certainly has talent, and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about this author’s style. I was drawn into the story and captivated by the words. The characters, as well, were incredibly well-drawn and real feeling. Even beyond the two MCs, the secondary characters were each unique and had their own flavor. This part really worked for me.
Cliff played it straight in high school, but he always knew he was hiding. Not only did his sexuality pose a problem for him, but his mother’s belief in the spirits and ghosts served to drive a wedge between them. In fact, it was the primary reason his parents got divorced. Cliff loves his mother, but he also thinks she needs professional help for her beliefs. I actually really liked the stalwart and strong Cliff, though I thought he could be more tolerant and accepting at times. He has a big heart, and it’s made known that he doesn’t put up with bullying. Even when he was in high school, he did what he could to put a stop to it. This part of him is shown time and again throughout the story, and I loved this part of him. But I liked, too, that he wasn’t perfect. He has a quick temper and it sometimes gets the better of him. Having a flawed MC like this really helped flesh out the storyline.
Drew was a complete sweetheart, and I adored him as much as everyone else in the book. As a part of the Drummond family, he’s often lumped in with his criminal relatives. But the truth is, Drew stood out as a man who was always trying to do the right and legal thing. I liked his tender, softer nature, and I liked that he had a solid backbone underneath. He was the perfect counterpoint to Cliff, and it was easy to see why they worked so well together. This story isn’t exactly insta-love, but it’s close. That actually worked really well, and I didn’t have a problem with how quickly their relationship moved forward.
But despite the good parts, I definitely had some issues with the plot as a whole. There were just too many coincidences for this story to be all that believable. The minor celebrity that has come to town just happens to be Cliff’s ex-boyfriend. And he just happens to have a bit of a vendetta against Cliff. After Drew’s injury, he just happens to be actually psychic, and that just happens to lead the characters to discovering who was behind the murder and attempted murder. This part, in particular, seemed like an add-on to me. Much of the book is focused on the Romeo and Juliet feel of Cliff and Drew’s relationship. For me, the sleazy ex, the hoax, the murder and attempted murders just weren’t all that necessary. It almost felt as if there were two separate storylines smooshed together, and it left me wanting.
Overall, the great writing and characterizations were what saved this book from a lower rating from me. If you’re a fan of this author, as I am, or you like your stories jam packed with a lot of action and plotline, then it’s definitely worth a read.