Pete Tucker is a police detective going through a difficult time. His wife has left him, taking their child with her, and she’s suing for sole custody. Now, Pete’s moved into a new apartment in a new neighborhood. Needing to just get out and forget things for a while, he heads to a bar for a few drinks. There, he meets Liam Jackson, and they hit it off. They talk for awhile and feel a connection…a connection that leads them back to Pete’s place for a night of passion.
Liam is a photographer by day, trying to become successful. He lives with his drug addicted (and huge asshole) brother, Darren. While photography is his passion, bills need to be paid, especially because Darren keeps stealing Liam’s valuables to sell for drug money. So, even though he hates it, Liam also works through an app as a rent boy.
Both men feel an attraction that could go past a simple one nighter, but between Pete’s divorce and custody battle, and Liam’s secret, things don’t look particularly good. However, when something horrible happens to Liam, Pete realizes he wants to protect Liam and perhaps take their relationship to the next level.
I liked the idea of this story. I love it when a cop is one of the MCs, and I especially like it when their protective sides show through, and boy howdy does Liam need protecting. Sadly, I didn’t really connect with this particular novella. While I felt a certain sympathy to both Pete and Liam, I couldn’t really attach myself to them.
Pete’s divorce/custody situation was pretty intense, What Liam had to do to make money was quite sad, not to mention his horrible brother, who was constantly mean to him. One would think these challenges would make me love the men, but instead, I found myself tuning everything out. There’s a huge fight I saw coming a mile away, and then something horrible happens. While that may have been a bit of a surprise, it dragged for me. Tainted Life is a novella, so there’s not a lot of time for a lengthy (and sort of boring) middle. I would have rather been able to read more about Pete and Liam’s lives and what made them tick.
I didn’t feel much chemistry between Pete and Liam. They did have a decent sex scene in the beginning, but that was the end. I didn’t feel any sort of heat between them. There was nothing to make me believe they were meant to be together. I mean, they were obviously going to be, but I didn’t any kind of special vibe.
The climax of the story was good…a little disturbing, but good. I think this was the best part. It was suspenseful, and stomach churning. In fact, this was the only part I was really caught up in. Again, because it’s a novella, there wasn’t enough time to get to the root of the whole thing. After this, the ending came quickly, and predictably. Pete and Liam get their HEA, and it was hard fought. I think, more than anything, I wish the story was longer. If I could have learned more about Pete and Liam and seen more of them before the conflict, I may have liked this one better. As it stands, I found it to be a bit of a disappointment. I had high hopes for Tainted Life, and it missed the mark for me.