smoke & mirrorsRating: 5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Dex wakes up tied to a chair by a Therian captor looking for information — information Dex doesn’t have. The man is determined to get answers out of Dex, but Dex manages to survive the torture and escape, however not before learning the truth he has long suspected: his parents didn’t die an accidental death, they were murdered.

Dex has survived the physical trauma, but the emotional fallout definitely takes more time and he is determined to figure out exactly what happened to his parents. Digging into the past is not easy, especially since he has to keep what happened a secret from Tony. Plus Sparks and the TIN agents clearly know more about what is going on than they will reveal and their secrets make getting to the truth even more difficult. Things get even more complicated when Dex and Sloane learn more about Dex’s mother’s investigation and find links to Sloane and Ash. And to make things worse, Dex is experiencing seizures and other strange health symptoms no one can explain.

As Dex digs further into what really happened to his parents, each step takes him closer to finding the truth. But there are those out there that don’t want Dex to uncover secrets from the past, and his life and future with Sloane are at risk.

Ok, I am just going to say it. Best book of the THIRDS series.

Yes, I know that is a high bar to set given the outstanding quality of this series, but I still say it is my favorite. I’ll admit, I was actually a bit uncertain about this one before I started. While the first five books focused on Dex and Sloane, the last two (three if you count Beyond the Books) have taken us away from our primary couple to focus on other pairings in the series. I was unsure how things would go moving back to Dex and Sloane again after the absence, and even more, where Cochet would take the story. It is hard to come up with fresh angles and storylines when you are seven books into a series, but Cochet has totally outdone herself here.

So first off, for my Dex and Sloane fans, you are going to LOVE this one. It is mushy and romantic and sexy and all the yummy things you could want from this couple. Yes, they have some conflict where they both need a bit of perspective on things. But overall this story really highlights how far their relationship has come. This is particularly true for Sloane, as he has always been a bit more hesitant on the relationship front. But here they are really moving forward together and you can see the way the men support one another and give each other strength as they deal with the trying times. There are some really great feel good moments here for the couple and I was happy to see them return to the forefront of the series in such a strong way.

What I really loved here is the direction Cochet has taken the storyline, as well as the tone of the book. While still a mystery, there is a darker vibe here in this story, a feeling of not knowing quite what is going on. The book just kept me on the edge of my seat from minute one. It starts off with intensity as Dex wakes up a captive and facing some pretty intense torture. We are given little tidbits as the story unfolds, slowly uncovering just what is happening with Dex physically, what secrets TIN is hiding, and what really happened to Dex’s parents. There is a dark twistiness here that I just loved and I found myself surprised and at times shocked as answers are revealed. While these big questions are definitely addressed, Cochet uses this book to set up lots of new and interesting angles for the series to explore. As much as I have loved this series all along, this book left me with a new energy and excitement to see how things are going to play out. (And I am not going to lie, I am about to bust with excitement after the bits of Seb and Hudson we get here in anticipation of their book).

So Smoke & Mirrors is just everything I would have wanted from this series and these characters. It is perfectly placed to reunite us with our main heroes, to answer some questions that have been brewing, and to set us up in some new and interesting directions. I loved it completely and I think it is a standout in an already amazing series. Definitely highly recommended.

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

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