Emery Hazard is attempting to go home again, although not by choice. He lost his job as a police detective in Saint Louis, and has secured a job in the police department of the small town where he grew up. Hazard would rather be anywhere else, but he has old ghosts to chase down, scores to settle, and haunted memories he can only hope to put to rest. But nothing will be easy as Hazard is partnered with John-Henry Somerset. Somers is one of those memories Hazard would like to forget, as he was in the group of guys that tormented Hazard all through high school. And, Hazard still has to find out what Somerset knows about the death of Hazard’s high school boyfriend, Jeff.
Hazard and Somers are onto a new murder case right away and Hazard does everything he can to keep his relationship with Somers strictly professional. But you can’t solve a murder if you don’t speak much to your partner and Hazard has to figure out how to merge Somers the teen, with Somers the grown man, who is now his partner.
John-Henry Somerset has a lot of regrets and Hazard is a big one. He’s also estranged from his wife and their young daughter and living his entire life in a small, bigoted, homophobic town has done its damage, along with the large quantities of alcohol he consumes regularly. But Somers is the kind of person that everyone gravitates toward, including Hazard. Solving the murder investigation seems nearly impossible and when clues lead close to home, Hazard has to do the one thing he never thought possible—trust John-Henry Somerset.
This book starts the beginning of a long journey for Hazard and Somers. In returning to the small town where he grew up, a lot that Hazard thought he had kept locked down rises to the surface. He never thought he got over the bullying and torment he suffered as a kid or what happened to his boyfriend, Jeff, but returning to that space certainly triggers him all over again.
This small town in Missouri is not the healthiest place for Hazard to be. There has been an increase in crimes against the LGBT community and a hate group is making itself known in radicalized ways. We never do learn exactly why Hazard lost his previous job, but Hazard is thrown back into work immediately with a murder case to be solved.
Somers has been part of Hazard’s life for as long as Hazard can remember. Somers was part of the group that tormented Hazard and although Somers has regrets and wants to apologize, Hazard won’t hear even one word of it and Hazard lays down the law that their relationship is strictly business.
Hazard has been in two relationships and both men have treated him badly in different ways and he has a mountain of issues. Somers has his own mountain to climb and we get the history of the men in high school and the key moments that led them to how they view each other currently. Throughout all of this, however, is the constant spark of attraction that beats between them.
The case takes up a good portion of the story and you will want to like to read police procedurals. While I did enjoy the police work and the murder case aspect, I did lose some interest along the way with this story as there were lots of moving parts and lots of players and the overall effect did not work to keep me fully engaged. The perpetrator was also not surprising. However, it does set up the current status of the town, as well as how Hazard and Somers have to find a way to work together and how their relationship shifts and evolves sometimes on a daily basis.
This is only book one of this long series. Somers has a relationship with an estranged wife to take care of and Hazard has a new love interest, so be prepared for the men to be romantically involved with others. I do appreciate that the author will make this a long road for them and that Hazard will not forgive or forget the pain Somers caused him so easily. I have the rest of the series waiting and I am looking forward to watching the evolving relationship between two men that certainly have an incredible number of issues to work through.