Rating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

Mitch O’Neill is a police detective in Sydney investigating two rival biker gangs, the Soldiers of Fury and the Brutes. It seems as there’s a war brewing and casualties are collecting. When it’s learned that Mitch’s ex, Peter, has close ties to Rocky Cummings, the leader of the Soldiers of Fury, Mitch volunteers to go in undercover to try and break open the case. It turns out that the police had a secret informant and Mitch hopes it’s Peter—they’d parted on bad terms when Peter dropped out of rehab the last time and haven’t had contact in nearly a year. Mitch isn’t looking to reunite, but gambles that Peter won’t rat him out to Rocky.

Finn Cummings isn’t best pleased with returning home to Sydney. He’d gone to uni in Melbourne and gotten a finance and accounting degree, but never planned to get into the Fury business. When their father and eldest brother ran the SoF club, it was mainly about brotherhood and camaraderie, but Rocky’s leadership is all about dominance and a quick buck. His plans to expand drug trade and battle the Brutes has Finn wishing he could just walk away. Not that Rocky will ever allow that. It’s not clear if Rocky killed his father or elder brother to gain control of the club, but Finn has his suspicions about his emotionally unstable brother. That’s why Finn keeps his sexuality a secret, too; Rocky would be angry if he suspected Finn was gay.

Mitch’s induction into the Fury inner circle isn’t difficult; he’s soon tapped as a driver for Finn. Rocky’s afraid the Brutes will try to take him out, and he’s right to be cautious. Finn and Mitch are attracted to each other, but neither wants to let on for fear of revealing too much to a stranger. They do get on, though, and Finn’s thankful for Mitch’s protection. As the days and weeks go forward, Mitch takes in all he can to help build his case, but it’s not solid enough—and he’s developing too strong of feelings for Finn, who he can see has difficulties with his position in the organization. Finn is frustrated that he’s falling for his watch dog, but he’s really charmed by Mitch’s compassion in caring for him during an illness. Then, just as they connect, their bond takes a turn for the worse. Peter’s gravely injured and Mitch volunteers to take his spot. While it’s Mitch’s big professional break, Finn is beyond conflicted.  How could he fall for a goon who’d hustle drugs, anyway? Mitch’s torn by his need to bust the bad guys, while also knowing that Finn falls into this category. Or…does he?

Lies & Deception is the first book in the Soldiers of Fury MC series and is a promising start. There’s a whole different culture to biker clubs/gangs in Australia, due to strict gun laws and anti-bikie laws, which was interesting to learn about. The author makes these distinctions clear in the preface, so I was prepared for the experience. Finn and Mitch develop a strong bond and have a physical relationship and each experienced similar qualms about having relations with a man who might betray him. Their conflict of interest was a barrier, one they each had to overcome more than once. I liked that there was a decent amount of build up and estrangement that had to be bridged before they made it work.

The conflict level was high, and Rocky is a constant threat to both Finn and Mitch. There are some stone-cold psychos in the Soldiers of Fury, and the climax includes lethal force that nearly separates Finn and Mitch forever. I liked how Peter’s issues with drugs were dealt with honestly, and how Finn handled his family strife. The gritty police/biker plotlines made sense and I really connected with both Finn and Mitch, who each had so much to lose. The end is a good wrap on this part of the series. Not sure what will happen in the next book, though, as Mitch did a thorough police job on the big baddies.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

veronica sig