Rafe Andrade is a recovering drug addict, out of rehab after having lost his band and everything he worked for. Drugs brought Rafe about as low as he could go and he never wants to go back there again. But figuring out how to start his life again is hard, especially when he misses his music and everyone is wary about whether they can trust him to stay away from trouble. The guys from the Sinner’s are looking for a bassist, but Rafe has to convince them he can be trusted to have his life together and be there for the band.
Rafe grew up on the outskirts of the sprawling Morgan clan, taken in as one of the family when he was a young boy with a working mom and never quite enough money. Before he left to go on the road with his band, there was a definite spark between Rafe and Quinn Morgan, but Quinn was young and his brothers were clear Rafe should stay away. The two shared some stolen kisses, but nothing more before Rafe was gone.
Quinn has never quite fit in with his family. Not only is he a professor rather than a cop, but Quinn has a mind that just works differently from most people’s. Quinn is brilliant, but socially kind of awkward and needs a lot of space and quiet to control his busy mind. Somehow things are different with Rafe, however, and rather than stressing him, Rafe makes Quinn calmer and feel like he can be his real self. As a teen, Quinn had a huge crush on Rafe, and now that he has returned home, Quinn hopes they can try again.
The feelings between Rafe and Quinn never went away, and now that Rafe is back and healthy, the men start rebuilding their relationship. But things get complicated when accidents start happening around Quinn, and then things that are clearly intentional attempts to hurt him or the people around him. The Morgan clan immediately jumps in to action, but Quinn feels smothered by the attention from his father and brothers. As the case heats up and the acts get more serious, things may be more dangerous than they ever dreamed. But Rafe is determined to be there for Quinn and support the man he has grown to love, even as they all must fight to stop the person who is looking to harm Quinn and those he cares about.
Sloe Ride is the fourth book in Rhys Ford’s fabulous Sinner’s Gin series and I have been looking forward to this one for a while. Quinn has always been the brother that is a bit different and outside the usual Morgan macho cop mold. And once Ford gave us the teaser for this book at the end of Tequila Mockingbird, I was dying for it even more!
Once again Ford gives us a romance weaved together with a mystery/suspense (boy these Morgan brothers and their lovers are magnets for trouble!). The suspense ends builds throughout the book with some seemingly isolated incidents that could be nothing that begin to build into what is clearly intent to harm Quinn and those around him. Just why this is happening and who is doing it is a mystery, and Ford does a nice job of keeping the reader guessing just what exactly is going on. There isn’t quite as much intensity here as in some of the other mysteries throughout the series, but it is still clever and exciting.
Part of why the suspense end works so well is because it ties in so much with the more personal issues Quinn deals with regarding his family. He has never quite fit in and had a rough time in his teens with a brilliant mind that went too fast and was too big for his young self. Things are never totally clear as to what exactly happened, but definitely signs of some depression and a need for medication to hold things together. Even now as a grown up, Quinn’s family is so overprotective, still treating him as if he were that fragile young man. What makes it worse is that Quinn needs a lot of space and quiet and there is no way to get that when he is being smothered by constant attention by his family who are all worried about the threats to his safety. I have to say Ford does an amazing job with Quinn’s character, showing how his mind works and how he struggles. He is a fascinating character and Ford writes him brilliantly.
Somehow Rafe is one of the few people who Quinn can feel totally comfortable with. With Rafe, Quinn doesn’t worry about saying or doing the wrong thing, or if he is interpreting Rafe’s actions correctly. Both of these men have difficult pasts they want to put behind them, both are easily swallowed by guilt that they don’t deserve. And both of them still remember the connection they had as young men before both of their lives changed. So these guys really need each other and I just loved them as a couple. There is a bit of the bad boy and the geeky virgin vibe here, but there is so much more than that between them. I loved seeing both of these men find a way to move forward and to find happiness and love together.
I am just crazy about this series and recommend it to everyone. If you haven’t started it yet, you are going to want to begin with the first book, Sinner’s Gin. Although the romance and mystery elements stand pretty much alone in this one, the rebuilding of the band is a thread that carries through from the first book. Not to mention that we spend a lot of time with the other couples (yay! Lots of Miki!) and the whole Morgan clan (yay! More Donal!), so it helps to be familiar with this cast of fabulous characters. So loved this one and I am so excited to see what comes next for these guys.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.