Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 5 hours, 33 minutes
When Dallas police officer Frank Moore and his partner answer a call for a possible break in, they find two people murdered and a scared young man hiding in an attic crawl space. Taylor Langford has lost everything with his parents murder, but Frank is determined to see the young man grow up well. In the intervening years, Frank is a part of Taylor’s life at every turn, and the two have a very special bond.
But as Taylor grows up, things start to change. By the time Taylor is 23, he knows he’s fallen in love with Frank. And Frank knows he wants Taylor, though he’s worried about the way their relationship has evolved, especially given their past and their age difference. They finally have the conversation, and the two move forward from friends to lovers. The connection between them only grows and deepens.
But Taylor’s parents’ murder is still unsolved and when the cold case unit picks it up, things shift. More than that, the killer is still out there. And since Taylor survived, the killer isn’t done. Frank won’t let anything happen to Taylor, and the love between them has to be enough to see them through.
I picked this one up on a recommendation and I’m glad to say it wasn’t a disappointment. I’d never read the author before, and I was a little wary about the premise. When a relationship like the one Frank and Taylor have evolves, it sometimes doesn’t work well. But Smith portrays it in a believable and heartfelt way. From the very beginning, the connection between Frank and Taylor is palpable, but completely innocent. When things change, it feels like a natural progression.
The story is populated with awesome secondary characters that flesh out the story beautifully. But it’s the MCs and their relationship that held me captivated. I was all in from the very beginning when Frank found Taylor’s hiding spot. The care and connection between them drove the first few chapters of the book. And when Taylor grew up, and both men’s feelings evolved, I was totally on board with their love. As I said, it felt natural. I loved that they discussed things between them, making sure they were both on the same page. And both characters were fully realized with quirks and flaws. But there was no doubt that they were meant to be together, and that their love would be amazing.
On the mystery side of things, I felt as though the storyline was a little less developed. It begins with a murder, part way through we get another glimpse of things, and then the final quarter of the book or so, things really heat up. While I appreciated the twist here, and felt like it was well done, I was also left with unanswered questions that bugged me. The tie up felt a little too pat for the scope of the murder mystery and I was looking for a little more here. All in all though, I have to say that it was fairly satisfying, even if I needed a bit more.
I listened to this one in audio, and Nick J. Russo’s narration was incredibly well done. Russo’s voice is always pleasant, smooth, and easy to listen to. Though he has a few word pronunciations that catch in my ear, it wasn’t enough to detract from the greater narration. The bulk of this book takes place in Texas, so there’s some southern twang going on. I appreciated that it wasn’t overdone, and consistent with the characters Russo used it for. It was particularly great in Frank’s voice, as there were a couple of moments where I would have been confused as to who was speaking if it weren’t for the differentiation. Taylor’s voice was perfect for the character as well, and I loved the pacing and timing of the banter. I definitely recommend this book in audio, as the performance really makes the book extra special.