Rating: 4.25 stars
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Mac and Henry are on the run, hiding from the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility while they try to figure out who is setting Mac up on drug charges and other offenses. The two men, along with Henry’s sister Viola, head to the McGuinness family farm in Altona to lay low. Henry isn’t sure hiding at Mac’s family home is really the most discreet choice, but he will admit that being around Mac’s family is comforting and they don’t have too many other options.
Things have quickly gotten serious between Mac and Henry, and Henry knows he is at kind of a crossroads. There is a large part of him that wants to give this relationship with Mac a real try. He is coming to really care for Mac, and the comfort he provides is something Henry sorely needs, even if it is hard to admit. But there is still a part of Henry that just wants to run, to keep trying to stay a step ahead of his secrets and painful past by never stopping long enough to have to really think about them.
As the two men try to figure out if things can work between them, they continue to try to solve the mystery of who is setting up Mac and why. Things are not quite as they expect, and they can’t hide away for danger for long. Henry and Mac hope that they can have a future together, but first they must clear Mac’s name and escape with their lives.
Tempest is the third book in Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock’s wonderful Playing the Fool series. This story wraps the overall series arc regarding Mac and the FBI and who is setting him up and why. Unlike the other books, Tempest does not have a discrete mystery, but instead the story focuses on resolving Mac’s set up, as well as the relationship between Mac and Henry.
This was a book that started somewhat slow for me, and then picked up speed toward the end until I was frantically flipping pages. The first half of the book or so doesn’t have a lot of action. We spend a lot of time in Henry’s head as he tries to sort out his feelings for Mac, what he wants in terms of a relationship, and whether he can move on from his past to have it. I think it is probably necessary to focus on these issues, as it would be hard to believe Henry’s rapid life change without seeing some introspection (seriously, these guys have been together only three weeks. Things seem to have happened between them very fast). But after the crazy hijinks and fast pace of the first two books, this felt a little flatter to me. Part of it is that the series is so good because of Henry, and the relationship dynamic between the two of them. He is so charming, so clever and entertaining, even when his doing bad things, that I couldn’t help but adore him. And Mac is the perfect foil as the straight man, his exasperation combining so nicely with his adoration of Henry. So the more serious, reflective side of Henry seemed to slow things down for me here since it is less playful with less action.
However, once things pick up, they really pick up. As soon as the bad guys get involved, the story is fast paced with cleverness, tension, and lots of excitement. I loved Viola and Mac’s niece Cory together. It was great to see Viola get a chance to be a hero after so much time feeling like she can’t handle the responsibility and challenges. I loved seeing the whole family join in to foil the bad guys. Not only were they clever and brave, but it was nice to tie in that sense of family that Henry longs for and has been missing. So I loved the way this came together, and particularly loved how things all wrap up for them. There is room for more with these characters, but we get a nice resolution to the trilogy.
So I found this a really fun series and I enjoyed it quite a lot. It really nicely combines humor, excitement, and quick wit. Henry and Mac are such great characters and I adored them together. I felt this last book started a little slow, but overall found it a great ending to the series.