Rating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Trey Bishop is a former child star whose life fell apart when his addiction to drugs and alcohol led him to self destruct on an epic level. After his latest stint in rehab, Trey has been clean and sober and staying out of trouble (not that anyone in his family believes that). But then he encounters some gun-toting men carrying a dead body and suddenly his life descends back into chaos. Fortunately, Trey is saved from certain death by the hot owner of his local ramen shop on whom Trey has been crushing for a while now.

After his identity was exposed during an undercover job, Kuro Jenkins left behind his black ops career for a life as the owner of a ramen shop in L.A. He lives a mostly quiet life now, but when someone is trying to kill one of his customers in an alley behind his shop, Kuro steps in to help. It soon becomes clear that Trey is in way over his head as no one believes he saw the body, the gunmen, or the getaway van — especially not his sister, the police officer. Trey’s rocky past means that most of his family has pretty much given up on him and no one believes his seemingly fanciful story. When Kuro is attacked by the same bad guys, he decides if the police aren’t going to help Trey figure out who is after him, Kuro will.

There is something about Kuro that makes Trey feel safe and protected, despite the dire circumstances. And as things become increasingly more dangerous, Kuro is there for Trey, helping keep him safe and working to figure out who is behind the killing and the attacks. Not to mention that along the way, Kuro and Trey are falling for each other. But someone is determined to make sure that Trey doesn’t live long enough to figure out who is behind the murders and it will be all the men can do to keep themselves alive.

Ramen Assassin is the first book in a new series by Rhys Ford, and like so many of her books, it starts with a bang and just keeps going from there. From the moment this one began, I was totally drawn in to the suspense and excitement. Not only are things high octane, but the story is twisty and clever and every time it seemed like I knew where things were going, there was another surprise. Ford is so good at mystery/suspense stories and Ramen Assassin is so exciting and clever, I really found myself engrossed in the action.

Trey and Kuro are quite sweet together as a couple. They are sort of thrown together by dire circumstances, but there is a tenderness between them amidst all the chaos. Trey is a man who let his life get spectacularly out of control to the point he destroyed pretty much everything he had. Now he has gotten himself back together, but the scars are still there in so many parts of his life, including his relationship with his family. I think there is a nice balance here of Kuro being Trey’s defender and caretaker, as he is much more familiar with this dark world into which Trey has been dragged. But at the same time, we see strength in Trey as he has learned to get control over his life, which I think is really critical for their relationship. So I liked these guys together a lot and they feel like a good fit.

The only place where things fell a bit short for me was in the final resolution. I can’t really explain much about my concerns without spoiling, but I’ll say I didn’t fully understand all the nitty gritty about what the bad guy did and how their actions were intended to lead to their goal. It just felt a little confusing, even as it was all explained. I also felt like there is a big reveal element partway through the book (which is a delightful and clever twist), but it seemed like there is a lot about the motivations of the people involved that is never fully explained. So I think making the final explanation a little clearer and tighter would have helped me here.

But overall, Ramen Assassin was an exciting start to what looks to be an intriguing new series. I am really looking forward to seeing what’s next for Trey and Kuro.

P.S. I’ll also note, don’t read this one hungry! Ford gives some great descriptions of Kuro cooking for Trey and it is food porn all the way!

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.