Narrator: Mike Pohlable
Length: 7 hours, 53 minutes
Things were going great for Oliver “Ollie” Petroskovic. He had a successful career as a high fashion model and a part-time job working for his brother, Nathan, at his private investigation company. Ollie bought a home that he planned to share with Nathan and Nathan’s future family. Nathan raised Ollie after their parents’ death, making the two incredibly close. Everything was looking bright, until Ollie found Nathan dead, having killed himself.
It is now eight months later and Ollie is doing everything he can to try to keep Petroskovic Haven Investigations afloat. He is still devastated by Nathan’s death and determined to keep Nathan’s company going, but it isn’t easy since Ollie is not a licensed private investigator, and he can’t get a license without someone to supervise his hours. So Ollie continues to do his best, finding himself often in trouble and occasionally arrested, much to the chagrin of Nathan’s former best friend (and cop) Will. Plus, the house Ollie bought that Nathan planned to renovate is standing just as it was the day he bought it, and it is going to take time and money he doesn’t have to get it back in shape. In an attempt to help Ollie with both problems, Will calls on Kade Alme, one of Nathan’s military buddies. When Ollie was growing up, Kade was a regular feature on their home as he often spent time with Nathan between tours of duty. Now Kade is a PI, and he can help Ollie with both the business and the house.
Ollie remembers Kade fondly, but that doesn’t mean he wants him around. Ollie has been making it on his own, and he doesn’t need Kade muddling in his business. Plus, Kade has made it clear that he is attracted to Ollie and would like to take their friendship further. And while Ollie definitely finds Kade attractive, he is not willing to risk his heart on a relationship; having lost both his parents and his brother already, not to mention having had a cheating boyfriend, Ollie is sure everyone he loves will eventually leave him. But Kade is determined to be there for Ollie and steps in to help.
When Ollie gets a surprise call that an old friend is in the hospital, he unexpectedly ends up in the middle of a case. Donovan was injured during the filming of a reality show, Sex House, and it seems like there have been a series of accidents on the set. Donovan wants Ollie to prove they are just that, accidents, so the show doesn’t shut down and Donovan doesn’t lose his money. But the more Ollie delves into the situation, the more it becomes clear that there is something serious going on, as more people end up getting hurt. When bullets begin flying, everyone wants Ollie to drop the case, but he is not backing down when people are getting hurt. Now Ollie and Kade find themselves in the middle of a case that could end up with both of them dead.
Model Citizen is a great story that nicely combines romance and a mystery/suspense plot, and handles both quite well. The set up here is great, with Ollie shocked and devastated by Nathan’s suicide, and now doing everything he can to keep his brother’s company running. Ollie is a great character, strong, stubborn, and determined. He doesn’t always make the best choices, but his heart is in the right place, as he truly cares about what is happening to these people on the show and won’t back down even in the face of danger. I loved the combination of Ollie as a model, but also as an investigator. He is world famous, had an impressive career as a model who could cross gender boundaries, and is completely comfortable in his own skin. I am not sure if he identifies as gender fluid, but Ollie is as comfortable in dresses and lacy underwear as he is in more traditional men’s clothes, and he has made a career of modeling both.
I really liked Ollie together with Kade. Kade was seriously injured in the line of duty and has gone through a long rehabilitation. He is estranged from his family and looking for a new direction when the opportunity to work with Ollie comes along. Kade is strong and experienced and a bit of an alpha guy, and his presence comforts Ollie, even as Ollie pushes him away out of fear of losing someone else he cares about. Kade and Nathan we very close, and Nathan wrote Kade tons of letters where he talked about Ollie and his career and sent pictures and articles. So Kade has developed some pretty strong feelings for Ollie before they even reconnect. He is determined to both be there for Ollie, and to show him his feelings are real and he has no intention of going anywhere.
The mystery end of things is well developed as well. We follow along as Ollie uncovers more secrets about what is really going on at the set and realizes that things are a lot more dangerous than Donovan led him to believe. The plot is twisty and clever and the story is nicely suspenseful as the danger grows and the guys put themselves at risk to figure out just what is going on.
I had a few small issues here, mostly around the way everyone seems to treat Ollie like he needs handling. No, he is not a private investigator, but he is not a fragile flower either. But Kade and Will seem to quite often make decisions for him, acting as if somehow they have the right to meddle in his life and treat him like he can’t be trusted or left on his own. At one point Will boots Ollie’s car so he can’t drive it and investigate further and tells Kade to lock him in his room. So not only is Will totally overstepping his role as a cop and friend, but Kade doesn’t stand up for Ollie here either. It is clear these guys are worried about him and that is motivating their actions, but it bugged me to see them treat Ollie like he needed a keeper most of the time.
I listened to this one in audio and really enjoyed it. Narrator Mike Pohlable does a great job with Ollie’s voice, giving it a softer, more feminine feel that suits his personality. The story flows smoothly and the tone and pacing are great. Kade’s voice is distinct from Ollie’s and it is easy to tell who is speaking. I did find that many of the side characters had the same very slow, soft voice and all sounded pretty similar. And Donovan’s voice is awful: nasal and constantly whiny. I know we aren’t supposed to like him as he treats Ollie badly and he is a self-centered jerk, but his voice is so over-the-top I found it distracting.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story and am really excited that a sequel is coming soon. The story ends with a bit of a twist and sets things up well for more to come for the guys and the company. So I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait for more.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.