hell and high waterStory Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars

Narrator: Mark Westfield
Length: 10 hours, 6 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Book Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance


Biological warfare during the Vietnam War ripped through the world, killing many. The vaccine to protect against it, however, resulted in a mutation in some people, causing them to shift into animals. This new species of human was called Therians. The government got involved in short order, and the Therian’s were regulated. But the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon and Defense Squad—THIRDS—was born as a way to make sure humans and Therian’s alike received justice.

When detective Dexter J. Daley testifies against his partner for the murder of a Therian youth, he knows his decision will be highly unpopular. But he does it because it’s the right thing. Of course, he never expect to be jumped and beaten, or to arrive home to find his boyfriend moving out. Dex just wants to do the right thing, to help and make a difference. And when he arrives back at work at the 6th precinct of the Human Police Force, it’s to discover that he’s not wanted there anymore either. He’s reassigned to THIRDS, and though working on a team with Therians is a little intimidating, at least he’ll be able to work with his adopted father and brother.

Dex knows he’s going to have to prove himself, and in fact, is already up against a huge stumbling block. Destructive Delta, his new team, is still reeling from the loss of one of their own a year ago. Dex immediately sizes up the team and sees that they aren’t healing well. And team leader and jaguar shifter, Sloane Brodie, seems to be doing worst of all. Sloane was partners with Gabe, the team member who died, and now Dex is taking Gabe’s place. Things get off to a rocky start for all of them, but Dex’s humor and charm slowly begin to win the team over.

Destructive Delta is working a case of connected murders and Dex is thrown right into the action when another man is killed. The team doesn’t have much to go on, and leads are thin on the ground. But they are relentless, and will not stop until they discover who is behind the murders.

As Dex and the team work to solve the case, Dex and Sloane begin to grow closer, their affection giving way to attraction. And though they know they shouldn’t, that finally boils over to sexual encounters. But the closer they get to the killer, the more danger they are in. And when things finally slot into place, and the pieces become clear, the depth of the treachery is surprising. Lives hang in the balance and things are not as open and shut as they appear.

Oh yes. Nontraditional shifters, incredible world building, law enforcement, and a well-developed plot, this story is absolutely one to catch my attention. I read it when it was first released, and when I had the opportunity to listen to it in audio format, I snatched it up. Narrator Mark Westfield adds a whole other layer to this story, really bringing it to life. Jay reviewed the ebook version, and you can check it out here for another opinion.

I loved Dex from word one. He is the kind of guy that really is just too charming for his own good. He’s funny and fun, but he knows when he needs to be serious, and he’s the kind of multi-faceted character that I really love to see. I loved the way his brain worked. He’s incredibly intelligent, he sees things no one else can, and he’s particularly well suited to being a law enforcement officer. Don’t let his playful attitude confuse you. Dex is all the things he shows us and so much more. And that was one of the things I loved the most about him. He’s unapologetically himself all the time. And he’s the perfect counterpart to Sloane.

Now Sloane is clearly still healing, and he’s definitely got some broody alpha going on. He’s been hurt, and Dex brings out feelings in him he doesn’t think he should be feeling. I loved the slow dance these guys did around each other, how they slowly got to know each other (and therefore showing the reader their layers), became friends first, though the attraction was always there. I like that they are matched for intelligence as well, and that they complement each other so well.  Because this story isn’t just about their romance. In fact, I might even call that the B story line.

Cochet gives us not only two amazingly developed MCs, but secondary characters that hold their own and we get to know almost as well. This is really an ensemble piece to a certain degree, and that’s really echoed in all the parts of the story. Not only are they a team working together to solve the murders, but they are becoming a cohesive unit. I liked getting to know everyone, to learn more about them, and watch as they worked together and found their groove. Not to mention that the plot itself was deliciously crafted, never giving too much away, and the slowly doling out of clues was just right for the mystery.

I’m not going to go on forever about the world building, but it’s exceedingly well done here. The author does an amazing job of painting the world, showing us everything we need to know. Not just about shifters, how it happened, how they behave, and what their needs are (which is pretty original in my opinion), but also gives us a perfect picture of the places the scenes are taking place. Incredibly well done.

As I said, listening to this in audio gave it a whole other layer for me. Really. The narration is so well done. Mark Westfield has a smooth, pleasant style that makes this book a joy to listen to. He captures the emotions behind the characters so well in his voice. Dex and Sloane definitely have distinctive voices, but my one tiny quibble is that there were a few small instances where they sounded too similar and I wasn’t sure who was talking for a moment or two. But overall, Westfield does an amazing job. I loved Tony’s extra deep bass rumble, and thought he captured several other’s particularly well. Especially the women, who had feminine voices without it going over the top. I enjoyed it immensely.

In fact, I just loved this book. In both written and audio format. I can highly recommend either to you, but if you are looking for an extra special experience, get the audiobook. The scene at the very end makes the whole thing especially worth it, and takes a great audio experience up another level. This one was a complete win for me, and I can’t wait to listen to more.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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