Leif Carson is an Evidence Technician with the Reno PD. He’s wicked smart, graduated college at the age of eighteen, and now holds two master’s degrees. His personal life is less exciting and, at the age of twenty-three, Leif is still a virgin. Despite all of his friends trying to hook him up, he’s not interested in a casual fling, but Leif is definitely interested in Rafe Castillo, who is also his close friend’s ex.
Rafe was undercover and is now suffering from PTSD. Although he is attracted to and then starts to have feelings for Leif, he is not in the right space for a relationship and when he thinks Leif has betrayed him, he pushes him away. Rafe continues down a destructive path until he is kidnapped and tortured by the serial killer known as the Confessor who is targeting gay men.
Rafe does eveything he can to uncover evidence that will lead to the whereabouts of the killer and Rafe. When Rafe is the only survivor, the killer has no intentions of letting him live, and Leif and Rafe have to fight more than their own inner demons for a chance at a life together.
Confessions is billed as a standalone and book one of a new series. While much of reading is about perception, my perception is that this book is not a stand alone and is actually a spin-off of Stone’s Flesh series. I have only read the first book in that series and recognized Cristian and Colby when they appeared in the first chapter of this book. Cristian then appears throughout the entire book, along with other characters from the Flesh series that I was not familiar with. There are relationships already formed and prior cases discussed and it’s inferred that all readers will know exactly what is going on. Also, Cristian’s backstory is not revealed in book one of the Flesh series and here it’s casually offered as fact, which now gives me little incentive to go back and finish that series. Billing this book as the start of a brand new series did nothing more than annoy me because quite simply, it does not stand alone.
The focus of this book is on Leif and the story is told from his POV. Everyone knows he’s a virgin and everyone has a comment about it and the conversations began to feel forced. He’s always been attracted to Rafe and although Rafe is Jeremy’s ex, Jeremy has a new boyfriend. Rafe is out of control as he’s drowning himself in alcohol and sex. We are told he has PTSD, but nothing is from his POV. Since only brief snippets of his story are offered, when he thinks he’s being betrayed during an intervention, he comes off as merely having a tantrum because we are not told the depths of what is really going on with this guy.
The other part of this book is the hunt for a serial killer. Leif is primarily involved in processing the evidence and when Rafe disappears, he won’t rest until he makes sense of all of the evidence and finds Rafe. This part of the book didn’t work for me either. Everything is told through Leif and there is no sense of urgency. Men are being abducted and there is a serial killer on the loose and I was all ho-hum about it. There was no immediacy to the story and having the details filtered through Leif was like being told a story that happened to someone else a long time ago.
Rafe is clearly having a rough time, but after the first time he is with Leif he immediately begins to get his act together. This was after spending just one night together where Rafe was drunk. The relationship is supposed to be a supporting factor in this story, but there was minimal development to it. Then, after being kidnapped and tortured, Rafe’s recovery was also a little too easy for me. Once Rafe is rescued there was no interest built as to who the killer was and it was just reading through pages to get to the end at that point.
I would have liked to have been able to say if you read the Flesh series and are looking for another book set in that world that would reason to try this one. But, even with only reading the first book in that series, this book was a big departure from that one as the dialogue here read as perfunctory and mechanical. Cristian’s detective work read as amateur, Leif couldn’t carry this entire story, the relationship wasn’t developed, and the serial killer aspect wasn’t written to hold my attention.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.