smoke & mirrors

Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrator: Mark Westfield
Length: 10 hours, 42 minutes

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

Dexter Daley wakes to find himself in an unfamiliar place, tied a chair and confused. It quickly becomes apparent he’s been kidnapped, and when the torture begins it’s all Dex can do to withstand it. But he doesn’t have the information his torturer wants, and when he gets a surprising opportunity to break free, he does so. Reunited with Sloane Brodie, his lover and mate, Dex begins to heal from his ordeal. But things are happening, changes within him, and he has no idea what’s going on.

While kidnapped, Dex learned that his parents’ death was not an accident, but instead, they were murdered. The truth behind it is shocking to not only Dex, but Sloane as well. So much so that Sloane needs some time to wrap his head around it, and he takes a step back. But to Dex, who feels the effects of Sloane’s mark all the time, it feels as though Sloane has left him. The resulting emotions and effects add to the mystery of what’s going on with Dex. More importantly, Sloane learns that he needs to be by Dex’s side no matter what and they are even stronger than they were before.

And they are going to need that strength. The mystery surrounding Dex’s changes come to a head, and nearly result in tragedy. And the plot thickens even further as they discover that there are those who want them dead for what they’ve done. Sloane will stop at nothing to protect his love, and Dex is determined to do the right thing. Together, they make the next step, in their lives and in their relationship.

I absolutely love this series, and I think Cochet continues to set the bar high with this world. I have to admit, I was a little wary of this book going into it. With the way the previous story ended, I had a lot of questions I needed satisfactorily answered. Not to mention, having read the blurb, I was particularly wary about one plot point. So my expectations were high, and there were certain things I needed to see happen in order to find myself fulfilled with this story. And I have to say, Cochet delivered.

I love that the previous two books in the series focused on other characters and their relationships, because I had been looking forward to seeing those evolve. But I was very happy to get back to the original pair. From the very beginning, Dex and Sloane captured my heart. And they have been working and fighting and growing and loving for so long, that I couldn’t wait to see the next step in their journey. These guys just work, on every level, and I was happy to see that continuing here.

Of course, it’s not smooth sailing. Dex is traumatized, and understandably so, from his ordeal and that puts a bit of a strain on things, as Sloane tries to figure out how to help his mate. But just as things are settling, they find out the truth about Dex’s parents, and it rocks Sloane’s world. For me, the fact that he walked away was just a bit too much. After all they’d gone through, I couldn’t believe that he was doing that, and to the extent he took it. But I was so very glad to see it didn’t last too long, they worked things out, and were even stronger when they came out the other side.

And while all this is going on within their relationship, Dex is experiencing physical things that don’t make sense, and are scary. This was one of the parts I was the most concerned about. If I’m honest, I have high expectations when it comes to paranormal stories and since I’m such a fan of world building, and then actually sticking to the rules of the world, I was nervous about how this would be handled. The blurb implies something about the changes, and so I was on the edge of my seat to see how the author handled it. I was glad to see it handled in a way that made sense within the confines of the world, and it wasn’t a complete and abrupt departure. It worked for the most part, and that made me happy.

Not to mention, the larger implication about what Dex’s mother and father were involved in and what they were attempting to do. I will admit that I had a small quibble with this part, as one area just seemed as if it were going too far and I couldn’t quite believe the connection. So I had just a bit of trouble with one part of it. However, I thought this was an incredibly clever twist on a truth Dex, and in turn the readers, were led to believe. And I liked that it pushed the meta plot for the entire series into the next level.

So I listened to this one, as I have the entire series, and honestly, Westfield is Dex for me. He does a great job at the other characters who play a prominent role, but Dex is the heart of the series, and Westfield just brings him to life. He has a smooth voice that is easy to get lost in, and the effects he peppers throughout really enhance the whole experience. If you’ve read my previous reviews of this series, then you know how big a fan I am of the narrator. But I have to say one glaring aspect fell short for me on this one. One of the characters is British, and while he’s been featured in previous books, it’s been a few lines here and there. In this book, Hudson has a much bigger role (and will be getting an even bigger one in an upcoming book) and Westfield…well, fails at Hudson’s accent. He’s trying, but it falls short, and it was definitely a detraction. The rest of the book is so good that this part definitely stands out and is worth a mention. But overall the narrator just nails the tone and feeling of the book, and I love the way he manages to bring exactly the right emotion to any given scene.

So yeah. I really enjoyed this book, and I loved listening to it. If you aren’t reading this series, well, you absolutely should be. And I, for one, have no qualms about recommending it to you. Especially in audio.

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

kris signature

%d bloggers like this: