I chose this book for New-to-Me Author Week the 2018 Reading Challenge Month because I have a constant hankering for romantic suspense and a bit of mystery—and I was shocked I’d never read anything from such a widely published author. This is the sixth book in the Critter Catchers series and is likely fine to read as a standalone; I didn’t struggle too hard to catch on.
Cody and Demetrius are childhood besties who have recently become romantic—and engaged. It’s a surprise to Cody, who is newly out as bisexual. Demetrius was out and proud since high school and can’t believe the luck of having his long-time crush, and current business partner, fall for him. They are determined to have a successful wedding and Cody takes the initiative to plan their honeymoon. Well, Demetrius planned a lot of the wedding, so Cody volunteered to plan the honeymoon.
Their business, Critter Catchers, has a history of finding the wrong type of monster. In previous books, they’ve found and debunked many mythical creatures as they vacationed or took work trips. Cody wants a secluded, monster-free week with his new husband. So, he books a secluded cottage in the middle of a lake in eastern Pennsylvania. Cody’s really mad that the lake seems to be the home of a Nessie-type lake monster called Esther. All the locals are trying to boost the tourist trade by hosting “Esther tours” and boat rides and whatnot.
Demetrius thinks it’s all fun, but when a local ends up dead, he’s concerned there’s something more to the myth. Cody, well, he’s a sourpuss. Weather interferes, leaving him and Demmy with a candle-lit island escape that might also harbor a murderous lake monster.
This was an interesting and thrilling story. I had a little trouble sinking into the world, because everything moved a bit too fast at the beginning. It was a weird opening, with too many people and too many unexplained references, but once I got past that opening scene, well, I really liked it. Cody and Demmy are likeable, and their escapades are intriguing. I like how the “monsters” are all twists on well-known myths, but they usually have some twist that gives them a fresh look. The disappointment Cody felt at getting them unwittingly drawn into a monster case while on their honeymoon was palpable and realistic. No one wants a disastrous honeymoon, and these guys get a trip that’s (almost) not to be believed. In terms of the realistic elements, I liked how the horror part was firmly grounded in contemporary issues, like ecological disasters that lead to unexpected animal activity. There’s a decent amount of sexytimes, and I really liked the balance between romance and suspense.
There’s a fair bit of drama, too, as the locals become embroiled in situations that are fully lethal, through no fault of their own. Demmy’s even at risk, turning up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Expect to have some hurt feelings, in the end. A major character’s experience was wholly sad. That said, this is a series, and Cody and Demmy rise to greet a new adventure. Their cast of secondary characters is lush, with many allies and unexpected kinships. While I haven’t read any of the previous stories, what I learned of them got me intrigued. Spoilers for those stories are in this book, if that’s not your jam, but I’d definitely read another book from this author.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-To-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of six $20 gift cards to NineStar Press. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-To-Me Author Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.