Author Drew Daniels has a severe case of writer’s block, which is the only reason he’s taken his aunt up on her offer to stay in her apartment in New Orleans. Hopefully a change of scenery is exactly what he needs. But upon arriving, Drew finds Finn Murphy is already renting the apartment. An awkward exchange later, and Drew agrees to stay in the other bedroom.
Drew is strongly attracted to the Finn, and the two begin a tentative friendship. But right away, things are rocked when one of Finn’s friends is murdered, and Finn and Drew find the body. It’s clear someone from Finn’s group is at fault, but there are no clear leads. As Finn and Drew begin to investigate, they grow closer. Drew has long hidden himself away, his Tourette’s making him so self conscious he keeps himself apart. But Finn has no problem with the tics, and enjoys Drew for himself. But just as they are finding solid ground, everything once again shifts. The killer tries to strike again, and Drew and Finn find themselves in a life or death situation. And if they survive, they might just have something to build their lives on.
Here’s another story in the States of Love collection, and I found myself transported to Louisiana and New Orleans. Frost gives a great sense of place, and has the perfect foil in Drew, who is just visiting for the month. With Finn’s job as a cemetery tour guide, he effortlessly shared history with Drew. The author painted a picture of the French Quarter of the city, adding details with the ghost stories and Finn’s Cajun flair. I really enjoyed this aspect, and found it wonderfully done.
We also have to well done MCs. I really liked both these guys. The story is told from Drew’s first person POV, and he was a great narrator. Seeing the area, Finn and his friends, and what follows throughout the story through his eyes was the perfect choice. He was a mix of shy and reserved, with savvy and intelligent. So I really enjoyed him, and I liked the connection he had with Finn. Though I felt we didn’t get to know the other MC quite as well, he was a wonderfully fleshed out and imaginative character. I liked his bright personality, his layers, and I liked that he wasn’t shy about sharing himself. Together these guys were especially great, and their chemistry sparked continually.
So in addition to the romance, there’s also a mystery, as someone is murdered. I have to admit, I had a bit harder time with this part. And I think it was because there just wasn’t….enough. Not enough time or enough clues to really connect me to the story. It happens early on, it’s sort of elaborate, and then Finn and Drew decide they need to find out who did it. Ultimately, I just felt that the end result–the reasoning and the murderer–was too simple, but on top of that, I couldn’t quite understand the character’s motivation. The reasons they were doing what they were doing wasn’t entirely clear, and there was a lack of connection to that part for me. It seemed like there was a lot packed in to a short amount of words, and while it wasn’t exactly a bad thing, not everything got the time, attention, and development it needed. While it all made sense on the surface, I would have liked to either see things more deeply explained, or a little less going on.
But the characters absolutely worked for me, and I really enjoyed Drew and Finn. While there were some parts that I wished were better explored, ultimately it was a nice story. Definitely a nice addition to the collection, and a great sense of New Orleans and Louisiana, along with great characters.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.