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Length: Novel

Today Sammy and Jay are doing a Buddy Review for Model Investigator, the third book in Lissa Kasey’s Haven Investigation series. We have both been following the series so we decided to once again do a joint review so we can both share our thoughts.

Please note that these books follow each other closely and this third story will have a major spoiler for the ending of the second book, Model Bodyguard.

Jay’s Review

Rating: 4.25 stars

Ollie woke up after a bus crash that seriously injured both him and his boyfriend Kade, only to learn that Kade had been kidnapped right out of the hospital by his parents. They have been holding him for weeks and no one can figure out where Kade has been taken, or even prove that it was his family behind it. Ollie is falling apart with fear for his boyfriend, and he knows how terribly Kade’s family treated him growing up, including multiple attempts at “conversion therapy.” Ollie is not going to rest until he finds Kade and brings him home. He has the help of his friends, including his ex-boyfriend Jacob, but it is not easy, especially with Ollie suffering severe migraines from his own injuries. But finally Ollie manages to track Kade down and rescue him from his family’s clutches.

Even when Kade is home, things aren’t easy. Kade has permanent injuries from the accident, ones that will take significant recovery time. Kade was badly drugged and doesn’t remember much of the past weeks. And Ollie is still stressed and fearful after Kade’s disappearance. Ollie also learns that Kade’s family has leveled a host of horrible accusations against him, things he supposedly did as a child that justify the way they treated him and the fact that they once again locked Kade up. Kade wants to keep the past behind him, but Ollie is determined to find out what really happened all those years ago and clear Kade’s name. But not everyone wants Ollie to learn the truth, and the two men find once again their lives at in danger, just as they have found their way back to one another.

I have been really enjoying this series and, after the cliffhanger ending of the second book, I was really eager to read this latest installment. As the book opens, we see Ollie’s devastation as he wakes up to learn that Kade has been taken, then catch up weeks later as we see him increasingly frustrated and despondent that Kade is still gone. I really enjoyed seeing Ollie fighting for Kade here, willing to do whatever is needed to help his boyfriend. They finally track Kade down and the rescue portion happens fairly early in the story. I kind of wish we saw more of the rescue first hand, as we are in Ollie’s POV and he isn’t there for the actual rescue, but I liked that this part of the story resolves fairly early on, leaving us time for other developments.

The rest of the book focuses on Kade’s return home and the aftermath. Things happen pretty quickly as the whole book seems to take about a week from the time Kade is rescued, which seems a bit hard to imagine given the bad shape both these guys are in. But Ollie needs to know what really happened in Kade’s past as he knows that it is impossible Kade is guilty of all the horrible things his family alleges. We get to learn a lot more about Kade’s family and his background here, which I enjoyed as the other books focus more on Ollie. I liked following along as Ollie digs into Kade’s family and the town where he grew up and works to clear his name.

I do think Ollie pushes way too much here, pretty much ignoring the fact that Kade really doesn’t want any of this dug up. I don’t think Ollie is particularly respectful of the fact that Kade isn’t emotionally ready to share all of this stuff, and instead decides he is just going to take off and investigate regardless of Kade’s wishes, or the fact that he just got Kade back safely. So I’ll admit that bugged me. But I did like that finally Ollie recognizes that everyone treats him like he is incapable of handling himself (something I have noted in both my previous book reviews) and starts taking some action to assert himself and stand up on his own.

I did enjoy the suspense end of things here, and it is nicely developed with a reveal that works without being too obvious. I did find that after the story was over, I felt like there were some holes and things that were left unresolved. For example, I never quite fully understood just what Kade’s dad’s issue is with him. At times it seems like it is that he is gay, but others that doesn’t appear to be the case (especially given what we learn about another character). Also, we learn many of Kade’s siblings are, in fact, on his side, or at least don’t agree with his dad, and yet I never understand why none of them do or say anything on his behalf. Some of the questions I have I can’t really get into in detail here or it will spoil things, but for example, we learn that something major happens when Kade is 15 that appears to involve some of his siblings and where he is drugged. We never actually get any resolution to this in terms of who was involved, what their purpose was, etc. So I thought the investigation was interesting, but there were some spots I think needed more development.

Overall however, I think this was another really enjoyable installment to the series. I love Ollie and Kade together and I like the way they are growing as a couple, as well as individually. I also like their growing family of friends and the way they are all there for one another. For some reason, I thought this was the last book in the series, but the ending here definitely leads into more (or at least it had better), since while it is not a cliffhanger, we do get a major reveal that isn’t resolved in this book. I am hoping we have at least one more story that will tie up these loose ends with Ollie’s brother Nathan, many of which have been hanging since book one. So if you are a fan of the series, definitely pick this one up. And for new folks, if you like a good private investigator series with the added twist of a genderqueer, cross dressing model in the mix, definitely check this one out.


Sammy’s Review

Rating: 4.5 stars

There was much to enjoy about this third installment in Lissa Kasey’s Haven Investigations series. As always, the beautiful romance between Ollie and Kade takes center stage, this time diving right into Kade’s recovery after being essentially kidnapped by his father at the end of the second novel. I have only good things to say about the realistic way in which Kasey has her characters deal with trauma—both physical and mental. No quick fixes should be expected here, but rather a journey toward a more stable life and way of handling the horrible aftereffects of the lies and drugs Kade’s father filled him full of during his two-month absence from Ollie. While it felt sometimes that the story was more centered on how Ollie dealt with Kade’s past rather then Kade’s future recovery, it all did balance in the end and I felt we got a much deeper sense of who these two men are and how they feel about each other. Theirs is not a transient or shallow love, but one that begged to be allowed to grow. In order for that to happen, Kade would have to share his past with Ollie—unfortunately much of that is lost in the shadowy recesses of Kade’s damaged memories and in conflicting stories that cast Kade as somewhat of a psychopath.

It was this revelation that I felt Ollie dealt with the least successfully. Giving in to his own fears about not being independent or strong enough to really help Kade, he instead almost carelessly casts Kade aside to go off and dig into his boyfriend’s past to find the truth. While Ollie tells himself that it is to ultimately clear Kade’s name and finally free him from the threat of another potential kidnapping and torture by his insane father, it sometimes felt very self-serving—almost childish in it’s reactionary feel. I found myself rather shocked at how Ollie could leave Kade so soon and so abruptly after finally getting him back. Shutting Kade out seemed almost like punishing him for not revealing more to Ollie about his past or what he discussed thus far in therapy. Instead, this actually served as a great reminder of how excellent a writer author Lissa Kasey actually is. You see, this twist in the plot—Ollie’s seeming abandonment of Kade and what could have been construed as a major rift in their relationship—actually opened the door for deeper understanding and communication between the two men. Instead of Ollie going off in a huff and Kade silently fuming, we got the two men joining forces of a sort and opening up about their fears, the past, and how important they were to each other, while we also got most important resolutions to the story’s many mysterious threads.

Still there were a few revelations that came up about Kade’s past that I felt he took in stride a bit too easily and Ollie as well. But these two men and their love for each other was more than solidified in this third novel and the door remains open for a fourth with a rather startling revelation coming to light about Ollie’s deceased brother, Nathan. I will be interested in seeing if Kasey takes this immensely enjoyable couple out for another spin—I, for one, would love another story about Ollie and Kade and the wealth of side characters that interact with them at Haven Investigations. For me, Model Investigator was a solid win and a worthy third installment.

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