A year ago, Dex was the lead singer of the popular band the Black Rainbows. Then his world came crashing down when an attack killed his bandmates and left everyone thinking Dex was dead. Now Dex has a new identity as Finn Alexander, the new band teacher in Snowcroft, New Mexico. He is living with Law, an FBI agent posing as his brother to keep their identities secret. Law has a past in Snowcroft and his own demons to handle. The two men are set to stay in the small town while Finn waits to testify in the trial of the mob boss who ordered the attack.
Despite the change from his life as a rock star, Finn is actually quite excited to teach band to the middle schoolers, especially when he meets a particularly talented student. And when he meets Kelsey’s father, Jack, Finn is definitely intrigued. There is instant attraction between Finn and the burly bar owner, something Finn definitely wants to pursue.
Jack has always hidden that he is gay, right through is marriage and past his wife’s death. Part of him is ready to come out, but with a young daughter in a small town, her worries about how it will affect Kelsey. So he knows getting involved with Finn is probably not a good idea. But the attraction between the men is mutual and soon the hot hook ups begin to turn into something meaningful between them. But things are not easy between the men. Jack still needs to finally come out and to talk to Kelsey about his relationship with Finn. Finn is being forced to lie to Jack about who he truly is in order to protect his new identity, but he knows there is no way that can end well. On top of that, the mob boss is still trying to track Finn down, looking to eliminate him before he can testify. Finn and Jack have fallen for one another and are starting to imagine a future together, but all the baggage between them may be more than they can handle.
Snowcroft Safehouse is the second book in Christi Snow’s Snowcroft series and takes us back to the small New Mexico town. I really loved the first book, Snowcroft Lost, so I was quite excited to revisit the series in this second book. This story gives us the same setting as the first one, with a few connecting characters. Law, the FBI agent protecting Finn, has a significant side role in the suspense plot in the first book. I’ll be honest, after so much time between the stories, it took me a bit to remember who Law was (I did a bit of flipping through the first book to catch myself up) and I think it would have helped if Snow had given us more of his backstory earlier on, especially to catch up new folks. We also get some time with Trevor and Jamie from the first book, as they are both friends with Law and Jack and so they pop in and out of the story. So there are some definite connections, but if you can handle waiting to fully understand how Law fits into the story, I think you can read this one as a standalone.
This book is interesting because it deals with the primary relationship with Finn and Jack, and then a strong secondary character in Law. I loved both Finn and Jack and found them really likable together. Jack is this big bear of a guy, but also sweet and gentle. He is devoted to his daughter and such a good man. Being with Finn is his first real relationship with a man, and we see him just there on cusp of exploring what he really wants, while still being held back by fears for what his actions may mean for Kelsey. For Finn’s part, he is caught in this limbo, still in pain over the loss of his friends and in hiding in Snowcroft. He knows that lying to Jack can’t end well, but he also has no choice, and it sets up this conflict right from the start. On top of that, we have Law, who is still mentally dealing with his own demons. He and Finn become incredibly close, almost like brothers. I thought this was an interesting choice to give Law such a prominent role (especially because at first I almost expected him to be Finn’s love interest). I think it worked well though because Law needs time to heal and he is not ready for a relationship yet. But having him as a major part of the story connects the series and gives us a chance to see his growth in anticipation for his own book (yay!).
While the first story had a very strong suspense element that was fascinating and exciting, things were a little flatter on that end here. The real tension doesn’t come until the very end of the book and, knowing Finn is being hunted by this bad guy, the way it plays out isn’t particularly surprising. So I wished we had gotten a bit more excitement here, rather than just an ending conflict. I will also mention that I was a little thrown off by the set up here. First off, Finn is being protected by an FBI agent after going into Witness Protection, which is not how it is done (the Marshall’s do that). Now Snow does acknowledge at the end of the story that she took some license here in order to bring Finn and Law together, so clearly the author understood the portrayal wasn’t accurate. The problem was by the time I read that part I had already spent the whole book being bugged by the inaccuracy. But that isn’t the only issue. When witnesses are awaiting trial, I have a hard time imaging an agent would be living with them for a year (the planned time they thought Law and Finn would be in hiding). Don’t witnesses live on their own, just under Marshall protection? And they are in Law’s house, and Law is taking a regular job and staying undercover too? Then when Finn has to testify, he has no prep, no prosecutor comes to talk to him about the trial, nothing. Not to mention I am still not clear what Finn is really supposed to have added to this trial in the first place. He is not exactly a star witness. He is a victim of the attack, but he can’t offer anything to prove the bad guy is the one that did it. These are all small details but just added together they began to frustrate me because things just didn’t hold together as well as I would have liked. If you are less nitpicky than me, you probably wouldn’t even care.
Overall I really liked this second installment in the series. I think Snow has created a really great series here and I loved the way she is building it with both new characters and old. I am looking forward to more stories set in Snowcroft and continue to really like her writing.