Assistant US Attorney Dominic Price is still facing threats stemming from his father’s dire financial situation (his dad has gotten in over his head and the gangster to whom he owes money is coming to Nic to collect). Nic is doing his best to investigate more about the guy behind it all, but isn’t ready to fully come clean with his friends about what is going on, even though they could likely help. Nic is worried that his problems are going to threaten the safety of those he cares about, in particular, boyfriend Cameron Byrne. Although things are getting serious emotionally between the guys, Nic is still trying to keep some distance in hopes that his own baggage won’t land right on Cam.
When Cam gets a call that his mother is in the hospital, he immediately heads back to Boston with his best friend, Jamie, in tow. Nic wishes he could be there for him; in truth, so does Cam. But Cam isn’t out as bi to his family and now isn’t the time to tell them. But when Cam begins digging into a old case from his family’s past, one that haunts him deeply to this day, he realizes he needs Nic’s help. Together, the two of them work to solve a crime that is two decades old, one that will hopefully bring peace to Cam’s family and to him as well.
Craft Brew is the second book in Layla Reyne’s Trouble Brewing series, a spin off set in her Agents Irish and Whiskey world. In the first book, we got the set up for three different series threads: the relationship between Nic and Cam, the mystery of Cam’s past, and the threats against Nic (along with some mysteries about his own past). I really appreciated how well this second story advances all of those areas. Often the second book in a trilogy will feel a lot like a placeholder, or things can seem stagnant. But Reyne does an excellent job here giving us progress on all fronts and really keeping this middle book exciting and intriguing.
On the mystery end, this story primarily focuses on Cam’s past and what happened years ago that still haunts him. We learn about that library card in his wallet and why he holds himself responsible for a past family crisis. I don’t want to give away the details, but Cam investigates a cold case at the pleading of his ill mother, wanting to give her some peace as she faces a serious health crisis. Not only is this an exciting and well done mystery, but the investigation really gives us more insight into Cam, his family dynamics, and what has shaped him into the man he is now. Reyne is great with an investigative thriller and this story is exciting and well done.
The story with Nic and his father is less at the forefront here as they spend most of their time in Boston dealing with Cam’s case. But enough happens that the story doesn’t feel too backburnered. We learn more about Nic’s past, including whose initials are tattooed on that tree on his back, and Nic makes some advances on investigating the blackmailer with a little help from his friends. I liked that even though this story is clearly going to be the focus of the final book that we still got enough new information to keep it fresh and exciting while we wait. While we don’t learn all the details of Nic’s past, we do get a lot of new information here that really helps shape his character.
On the relationship side, things end up in a really good place for the guys. It is a bit shaky at first. Nic is determined to keep Cam at a distance because he worries for his safety. And when Cam doesn’t bring Nic along to Boston, and later keeps a professional distance in front of his family, Nic fears it is because Cam really does see him as somewhat of a liability. But never fear, these guys work it all out and things end in an appropriately sweet and mushy place for them.
So I really thought this was a great second installment of the series. I am excited to see how it all comes together in the next book for Nic and Cam.