Deacon Reid has a troubled past and has lived on the edge of the law. But when his sister died, Deacon turned his life around so he could get custody of his eight-year-old niece, Zig. Now the two have moved to Half Moon Bay where Deacon bought an auto repair shop in hopes of fresh start for both of them.
Lang Harris owns the bookstore down the street from Deacon’s shop, and the moment he sees the gorgeous man pull up on his motorcycle with Zig in the side car, Lang is attracted to him. And once he gets to know Deacon and sees what a kind, sweet man he is, how he cares for his niece, and how unbelievably sexy he is, Lang is smitten.
The two men seem so different, but they hit it off immediately and the attraction flares. They begin building a relationship, mindful of Zig and taking things carefully, but both quickly becoming fully invested in their growing love. But all three of them have troubled pasts, pasts that aren’t so easy to keep at bay. After mysterious fires, unidentified dead bodies, and more than one shooting, it becomes clear that someone is after them. But between Deacon’s former dangerous life, Lang’s ex, and the lowlifes who hung around Zig’s mom, there is a long list of suspects. Lang and Deacon are determined to care for each other and to keep Zig safe, but with unknown threats against them, they may lose their lives trying.
Can I just pause for a moment and tell you how much I love Rhys Ford’s writing? She writes exciting and clever mysteries with fabulous and well developed characters. Her writing is so evocative and she paints such interesting pictures with her words. Just look at how this book starts. We can totally picture the scene and get such a great sense of Deacon right away:
Deacon Reid and the dark were old friends.
He’d grown up in the shadows, suckling on the comfort and safety they gave him. It was when he was dragged out into the open—that was when trouble started. Light threw the world into a tizzy for Deacon. It was too unyielding, too raw in its truth. He couldn’t hide away the things he didn’t want to know about himself if he stood too long in the light of day, especially once he’d grown big enough to hurt others before they could hurt him.
So why he was sleeping with a night-light on, Deacon Reid had no fricking clue.
Then a tiny poodle snore from the motel bed next to his kicked it all back into perspective.
He was no longer alone, no longer able to hide in the shadows of society with one eye on the game and the other watching for the law. Deacon’d been brought down by the one thing he thought he’d never in his life ever have—a little girl.
So this story is classic Ford with the perfect combination of mystery and romance. I heard her describe this as “fluffy” (and for Ford it is about as close as she gets) and while I wouldn’t go that far, this story definitely has a softer feel than some of her others. I think that is because the romance develops between Lang and Deacon pretty easily. They are attracted from the start, begin getting to know one another, and are soon growing serious. It is not instalove by any means and I could totally believe in their developing relationship. But things go pretty smoothly for them in the falling in love department, and the big conflict they face is really external.
Now full disclosure here — I am not usually a big fan of kids in my books. I love mine, but romance with kids isn’t something I usually seek out. But I totally adored Zig here and it is pretty much impossible not to. She is old beyond her years after living with a junkie mother and surviving the foster care system. She is in debt to the swear jar, wears tutus with her boots, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Zig could so easily have been absurdly precocious and impossible to believe, but Ford manages to make her adorable and spunky and the perfect fit for these two men. I love that as they develop their relationship, Zig is always a first priority. Deacon is determined to give her stability and confidence and prove he is someone she can trust. And Lang is completely supportive, always placing her needs ahead of theirs. I loved the little family they built.
The mystery end of things builds slowly. We know something hinky is going on, but it takes a while to really understand the threat. I really liked how we don’t actually know where the danger is coming from until most of the way through the book. All three of these guys have nasty pasts and as we slowly learn more about them, we realize that threat could be coming from any one of a number of directions. It gives us a chance to learn more about their lives, while still keeping some mystery as to who is after them.
So I am pretty much totally in love with all three of these characters. Seriously, if you don’t adore Deacon, I will be shocked. He is that perfect bad boy — a hint of danger and a heart of gold. And hot. Did I mention hot?
One more observation before I wrap up. The only people I ever talk to who don’t adore Ford’s writing are people who haven’t read her. I am sure there are some folks out there who are indifferent, but I have to tell you, in my informal sample, if you read her books you will love them. So for Ford fans, you won’t be disappointed in Fish Stick Fridays. And for those of you who may be new to her writing, this is a great place to start.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.