When hitman Lee Burton is hired to kill Ernie Caulfield, he can’t figure out for the life of him why anyone would want Ernie dead. The guy seems harmless, working in a bakery all day and spending his nights dancing and hooking up. Burton can’t bring himself to harm Ernie and so he does the only thing he can think of to save the man, and that’s bring him to middle of the desert to hide out in Burton’s sanctuary with some friends.
After Ernie lost both his parents, his life fell out of control. He ended up with the military, being put to work trying to use his psychic abilities to determine who was “good” and “bad” for a shady commander. Ernie hated it, and hates the chaos in his brain from feeling and understanding so many signals around him. He used sex as a way to quiet his brain, but now meeting Burton turns out to be the solace he needs. Ernie knows Burton is the right guy for him, but Burton may take a little more convincing as he worries his dangerous life is not a good fit for the sweet Ernie.
Once Burton has Ernie safe, he is determined to try to find out more about who was behind the hit and why. He goes undercover with a group of mercenaries who seem linked to Ernie’s past. Part of the job involves listening in on a lawyer and private investigator who are somehow connected to the case, and strangely also have ties to Burton’s friends, Ace and Sonny, at whose house Ernie is staying. Burton is getting closer to stopping the renegade bad guys who are causing all sorts of trouble, and he is finally accepting that he and Ernie are meant for each other, but the guys may find themselves facing danger too extreme to survive.
Ok, before I go too much further, let me back up and set the stage for this book. Hiding the Moon is a follow-up story to two different Amy Lane series. We first meet Ace and Sonny, as well as Burton, in the excellent Racing for the Sun. Ace and Sonny are in the military and Burton is their friend and an officer who helps them out. Hiding the Moon also connects with Lane’s fabulous Fish Out of Water series. That series introduces us to lawyer Ellery Cramer and his boyfriend, PI Jackson Rivers. The first two books in that series set up the bigger series arc involving a dirty copy and a serial killer. In the most recent installment, A Few Good Fish, Jackson and Ellery end up connecting with Ace and Sonny to track down the bad guy who is behind it all. Burton shows up there, and we briefly meet Ernie, but we don’t really get to know Ernie well, nor do we learn the backstory on the couple. OK, so got it? Yes, it is kind of confusing, even for someone like me who has read all of these books. For the uninitiated, I’d say that you really need to have read at least Racing for the Sun and A Few Good Fish to get the most out of this story. But ideally you would want to read the whole Fish Out of Water series (and it is so good, so you really should read it all). Either way, read Racing for the Sun before A Few Good Fish in the series timeline. Ok, moving on…
So as I said, we met Burton and Ernie as side characters in the last Fish out of Water book, but didn’t get to know them well or learn much about their relationship. So I was looking forward to that chance in this crossover story. That book is also quite high octane (as is the whole series), with near death events, kidnapping, explosions, and suspense. I figured this book would continue on in that same vein as while that main storyline gets some major resolution, there are some open avenues to pursue with the bad guys that I expected to see addressed here. So basically, I assumed this book would cover the backstory on Burton and Ernie, as well as advance the overarching series plot. However, that isn’t really how this story is set up. Instead, we get a virtual recap of the events of A Few Good Fish, but this time told from Burton and Ernie’s perspective.
The book opens with Burton assigned to kill Ernie, realizing the guy is an innocent, and taking him to safety. On the way to Sonny and Ace’s house, the two men spend about 24 hours together, including a night of sex that is Burton’s first encounter with a man. That is the very start of the book and, after that point, we pretty much jump into the familiar storyline that we read in A Few Good Fish as Burton goes undercover with the bad guys. In some ways, it was interesting to see things from an alternate POV. For example, we get to see the early days as Burton gets himself set up undercover before the characters from the other series get involved. It is also fun to see Burton’s perspective on Ellery and Jackson, both of whom I love, as he surveils them. So I enjoyed this story because I love both the series it is based upon and I really liked revisiting all these characters and this storyline. But to be honest, I found this plot way too much of a rehash of the book I already read. I assumed that while some areas would be touched upon again from Burton’s POV, we would get more new scenes, as well as advancing the larger series storyline further. However, aside from the guys meeting and a very brief wrap up, the plot here is almost a 100% overlap of things we already read about. And honestly, not all of the scenes were worth seeing again. For example, we get Ernie’s perspective on the scene where bad guys come to the garage and Ace ultimately calls the cops to get them arrested. But I’m not sure that the scene really adds any value here, and certainly it didn’t feel necessary having it repeated when we already know what happened.
I kind of felt the same way on the relationship end. I wanted to learn more about both men, more about how they met and how their relationship built and progressed. But they pretty much fall into lifelong love in the first 24 hours (though Burton tries to resist) and most of the rest of the book they are separated aside from a few times Burton can visit. So there isn’t much time to really get to know these guys as a couple; we just have to accept them as meeting and falling for one another in a day and have a few scattered scenes and interactions to carry them along.
I guess my bottom line here is that this didn’t feel like Burton and Ernie’s story, either from a plot side or a relationship side. Nothing new really happens here and we don’t get to spend a lot of time seeing their relationship grow. I almost feel this book would have been better served as a short story where we could see the guys meet, get a bit about the larger plot, and see their HEA. Either that or I needed a lot more meat to the storyline and a chance to see more than just a recap of the previous book. All that said, I did find this story entertaining and I continue to love these books and these characters. I am just not sure this story really stood well enough on its own to really shine as much as the others.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.