James Carter is a 45-year-old police officer. He and his partner, Daniel Callahan, are working on a murder case that’s frustrating and exhausting. James’ mind is preoccupied not only by the case, but his attraction to the younger assistant US attorney, Derek Moore. Circumstances make James believe Derek and Daniel are dating, so he doesn’t mention that attraction to anyone.
Some time later, James and Daniel are working another murder, and once again, they seem to be at a dead end. Daniel calls Derek in to be a fresh set of eyes. The three men work until they’re dead on their feet, and are sent home to get some rest. Derek offers to take James home, and in the car they have the discussion they should have had months ago. Derek tells James he’s not dating Daniel, and before you know it, they’re in James’ house making out like teenagers and finding their way to the bedroom.
Mens Rea is the short story prequel to Law and Disorder, and even though it was published in 2015 by Dreamspinner Press, it seems to exist simply to introduce us to James, Derek, and the other characters in Law and Disorder.
I liked this story. There wasn’t a whole lot of substance, but it accomplished what it set out to do…give us a peek into the lives of James and Derek. We also get to meet James’ son, Sam, and Sam’s girlfriend Lydia, and Derek’s sister, Lara, and Lara’s fiancée, Ben. I would consider them background characters, even though they play more of a role than other background characters in similar books.
James and Derek have a decent chemistry, and when they finally figured themselves out, they quickly fell into a relationship. They were sexy together, though all of the sex takes place “off camera.” There’s kissing, some foreplay, and some sweet talking, but there isn’t anything graphic. It’s not a big deal, though. It works for the story, and sometimes, less is more.
My only real knock on this story (and also in Law and Disorder, but to a lesser extent) are the names Derek and Daniel. I found myself confused as to who was who. Luckily this story is only 25 pages long because I had to go back and read it three times until I finally got it straight. This is probably just a personal issue with me, but when two characters in a close relationship have names that start with the same letter and are relatively the same length, it takes me awhile to wrap my brain around it.
All in all, Mens Rea is a decent little story that was a nice set up for Law and Disorder.
Law and Disorder
James and Derek are just starting to get a feel for each other as a couple. They’re adjusting to new things like the age difference, their jobs, and their families. Things seem to be going well, until the morning James gets a call to come to the courthouse. It seems someone has arranged some dead sparrows along the stairs. Things go downhill pretty quickly from there. Whoever left the sparrows is starting to up their game. The longer it goes on, the more it’s obvious the killer has some sort of connection to Derek.
James wants to keep Derek protected at all costs, but Derek starts to resent being followed around by an agent and being told he must stay at home rather than coming to the courthouse to work. This begins to interfere with James and Derek’s honeymoon period, and they’re going to have to figure out how to separate their personal lives from their work lives.
I found Law and Disorder to be a good book. I love a good murder mystery, especially when it’s mixed with a romance and well written characters. I liked James and Derek very much. They were smart, dedicated, and sexy. They had a good chemistry together. There was witty banter, along with personality clashes, and sexy moments (although, like in Mens Rea, actual sex takes place “off camera”). I loved how James was so protective of Derek, even though it annoyed Derek to no end. They hadn’t admitted they loved each other yet, so I thought it was romantic, but apparently Derek wasn’t thrilled.
Once again, the background characters played an important role in the story. There was Daniel, of course, but Derek’s sister, Lara, and her fiancée, Ben were back. Also, Sam and Lydia, James’ son and Sam’s girlfriend. They brought along a lot of humor, but I have to say, I was a little annoyed with Lara, Ben, Sam, and Lydia. There is a murder investigation going on, and they kept insinuating themselves into it. Sam would do things like barge into the police station insisting to know what was being done to protect his father. Lara did the same, and she was also so nosy about James and Derek’s relationship, it was downright frustrating…and more than a little unprofessional.
The mystery itself was a good one. At first, there didn’t seem like there was any connection to Derek, but it became clearer after every incident. I was actually excited that I had no idea who the killer was until James, Derek, and the others figured it out. It was completely out of left field, and I was impressed. Several red herrings were dropped, and I fell for one or two of them. It’s pretty rare when I don’t figure out the whodunit. That’s how you know the plot was well thought out.
The ending of Law and Disorder was neat and tidy with the case solved and James and Derek finding their way to each other again. After I read the epilogue, the first thought I had was I hoped there would be a sequel. It seems to me there a lot more James and Derek could get into together. There are plenty of criminals to catch and lots of interesting situations they could get into. If Brooke Edwards were to write more installments of this series, I’d be perfectly willing to read them.
Note: Men Rea was published by Dreamspinner Press as part of their 2015 Daily Dose. Law and Disorder has been self published.