Rook Stevens may have been a thief, but he is not a murderer, and when he stumbles upon a dead body with the police at his door, Rook’s first instinct is to run. Unfortunately, he runs right into the arms of Detective Dante Montoya, a cop who has been after Rook for years but has never been able to make charges stick. This time, however, Rook is covered in the blood of one of his former associates and her body is on the floor of his shop, Potter’s Field. Despite Rook protesting he is innocent, Dante is determined this time he will see Rook in jail.
Even as Dante worked to bring Rook to justice years ago, neither man could deny the chemistry between them. Now that they are caught up in the case together, all those feelings are coming back. And as it becomes increasingly clear that Rook didn’t kill anyone, the two finally act on their attraction for one another, even as they try to keep each other at a distance. However, as the bodies pile up, Rook may be the one in danger. Now he and Dante must figure out who is behind the murders and what they want from Rook before he ends up one of the victims.
You know how sometimes you read a book and you just can’t put it down, even though you KNOW you have a million other things to do? And the house could basically be burning down around you before you could pull yourself away? Yeah, that is pretty much what happened to me here. Rhys Ford is such a master in the romantic suspense and mystery genre and this story is so exciting and engaging from the first minute Rook takes off through the streets with the police at his heels. The mystery kept me guessing through most of the book and there is just so much energy here the story just sails along as we follow the case.
I absolutely loved both Rook and Dante and found them fascinating characters. Rook is a reformed thief, a man who grew up with nothing on the carnie circuit with his neglectful mother. He was basically born into a life of crime, and he was great at it. But now he has gone legit, has built his business and is trying to make a real life for himself, only to have his past come back to haunt him and everything he has worked for threatened. Rook is prickly and skittish and not always easy to get along with. But at the same time, we can see how good he is to his friends and how much they care about him. We know he has had a bit of a wicked past, but that just makes him even more delicious. Dante is a total sweetheart, a good hearted cop who truly wants to help and make the world a better place. I love that Ford doesn’t go all alpha macho with his character, something that is common in this type of story. Yes, Dante is strong and tough and gets the job done, but he is also sensitive and open and a sweet guy. I just loved them together and am thrilled that this looks to be part of a series. I so hope that we get more stories with these guys.
Murder and Mayhem also has some great secondary characters, in particular Rook’s grandfather Archie and Dante’s uncle Manny. Archie is filthy rich and mean as sin. He is crotchety and used to getting what he wants and everyone but Rook pretty much quakes in his presence. At first he seems like a total bastard, but as the story continues we can see how much he truly loves and cares for his grandson. I totally loved the acerbic old man and found him so much fun. I also really enjoyed Manny and his relationship with Dante. Both men were abandoned by their family for being gay (and in Manny’s case, also a drag queen) and they have formed their own family unit together. What I found most clever about Archie and Manny is the way they are used to illuminate Rook and Dante. It is almost like they are extreme versions of their family member. Archie is pricklier and more stubborn than Rook; Manny takes Dante’s soft heart a few steps further. They serve to really show us the families these guys have built, but also help us to see Dante and Rook in an interesting way. It is really clever and they are great additions to the story.
I truly loved this book and found it the perfect romantic mystery. The story is fast paced and exciting with an engaging mystery and great action. The romance is wonderful between these guys and I loved the enemies to lovers element. They are sexy and romantic and there is enough tension to keep it interesting while not drawing things out too far between them. I loved Rook as a bad boy gone good, and I found them a fabulous couple. Definitely a wonderful story and highly recommended.