trust with a chaserRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel

Mason Hanks has returned to his small town of Rainbow Cove, Oregon to open a restaurant with his two close friends. He wants to make the former tavern a gay-friendly location, as well as to help turn the struggling town into a GLBT tourist destination. Not everyone is on board with the plan however, especially as Mason’s family has a reputation for being trouble makers.

Nash Flint is the local police chief, taking over the position from his father before him. Nash is a man who believes strongly in his duty and his role in protecting the town. So he is a little wary seeing Mason return, given that his family has frequent brushes with the law. Nash has also been hiding his homosexuality for years, so having the focus on making the tavern and the town more GLBT friendly makes him worry about his secrets being exposed. It doesn’t help that despite his determination to stay away from Mason, he can’t help but find the man incredibly attractive.

As Nash continues to come into the tavern for meals, he and Mason get to know one another better. Mason pushes at Nash’s walls, being friendly and charming and making it clear he’d like to get to know Nash better (as well as finding him incredibly attractive). Eventually Nash can’t deny himself the opportunity to be with Mason, and the two begin spending time sharing meals, having cooking lessons, and engaging in hot hook ups.

Despite the fact that the guys are beginning to feel more than just friendship, they both know their relationship has no real future. Nash isn’t planning to come out and Mason’s cop-hating family will never accept his relationship with Nash. But as the men grow closer and more serious feelings get involved, they realize that they may just have to put aside other people’s opinions and focus on their desire to be together.

Trust with a Chaser is the first book in Annabeth Albert’s new Rainbow Cove series. I am a huge fan of the author and am delighted to see the start of a new series. The set up here for the series is really nicely laid out, as we meet Mason and Nash’s friends who will likely play a role in future books. We also get the start of plans for the town and the increased GLBT tourism, and I expect that storyline to continue on as the series goes on. So there is a nice foundation here that kicks off with Nash and Mason.

I also liked the set up here for this first relationship with the older, closeted cop facing an attraction to a guy from a troublemaking family that he last saw as a kid. We see right away that Mason is nothing like his family, but at the same time, his reputation as being “a Hanks” precedes him and affects the way others in the town treat him. I would have liked to get a little more sense of this, however. We know that the Hanks family has a bad reputation, but I feel like this didn’t play out with as much depth as it could have. I wanted to understand what it was like for Mason growing up in family everyone considered bad news. I wanted to know why they had such a horrible reputation, when it seems like there were other people in town who were just as problematic. This issue with cops and Mason being a Hanks is something that sets up a big roadblock for their relationship, at least in Mason’s mind, so I felt like more development here would have helped.

So Mason’s family is an issue, but the bigger problem is Nash and his determination to never come out. Nash’s father had very traditional views of what it means to be a man and what the police chief’s role should be in the town and he made them quite clear to Nash. These expectations weigh heavily on Nash, and he feels the burden of his father’s words, even years after his death. While Nash has had a covert relationship, as well as some out of town hookups, he is definitely not out, nor does he ever intend to be. Here is where I did struggle somewhat. First off, I didn’t totally get why the burden of responsibility that Nash feels as a cop translates into “you can’t be gay,” especially considering his father died not knowing Nash’s attraction to men. I get that he is private and that he doesn’t want the gossip, but not so much why this secret was so critical to his ability to do his job, which is what this all seems to come back to. I also got frustrated with his attitude and treatment of Mason. I am not a huge fan of the guys who are fine getting all the sex they want, but then going cold the second it is all over because of their closeted status. Mason is kind and understanding, but I found myself annoyed on his behalf as Nash hooks up with him, then freezes him out before the sweat dries.

Overall I did like these guys. They are good, kind men, Mason in particular. Despite my issues with Nash and the hookups, it is clear he is a good, caring person who holds a lot on his shoulders. Both of these men are clearly lonely and it is rewarding to see them together and find happiness. But for some reason I just didn’t feel a strong connection with either of them, individually or as a couple. I liked them, but didn’t feel fully engaged, and so while I thought the story was well written, it didn’t grab me in the same way that most of Albert’s books do. I think if you felt more of a connection with Nash and Mason, or felt more chemistry between them, this book would be more successful for you. So while I did like it, it wasn’t my favorite of Albert’s work. That said, I am really looking forward the continuation of the series, and particularly the couple for the next book.

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