Detective Paul Monroe is called Bulldog for a reason. Once he gets his teeth into a case, he won’t let go until he’s solved it. So when he’s called to the scene of a body in a parking garage of a local hotel, it’s no different. Paul will do whatever it takes to find the murderer.
Cliff Baxter never expected to come face to face with his childhood crush because of the murder of one of his staff. And though he’s instantly draw to Paul again, he’s getting mixed signals from the man. It’s clear from the start that Paul is all business, all the time. He can’t shut his brain off, and he’s constantly going over the case. If that puts Cliff and Paul together again and again, well that’s just a bonus. Cliff is just as determined to find out who the murderer is.
But the more time they spend together, the more Paul develops feelings beyond friendship for Cliff. But Paul isn’t out, and he’s had trouble accepting his own sexuality. Cliff is understanding of the situation, and more than that, he understands Paul’s tenacity where it comes to work. Paul will not stop until he’s solved the case. But when they close in on the suspect, things go sideways, and Paul comes to the startling realization that he doesn’t want to lose Cliff. And that he just might be ready to come out.
I’m a sucker for a murder mystery, and so when I read the blurb for this one, I quickly picked it up. This debut novel started out with a lot of promise, and held fairly steady throughout. I was immediately drawn in by the writing, which is heavy on description and paints a great picture. While it certainly wasn’t perfect, this book had a lot going for it and a lot that worked for me.
The MCs were really well done, and I liked having alternating third person POV so that we really got to understand where both men were coming from. Paul is tenacious and focused, and he lives and breathes the job. But part of that is hiding who he is, and not being ready to come out. Paul has valid reason for keeping it a secret earlier in his life, but now he’s fallen into a holding pattern and just doesn’t want to change the status quo. I like how his deepening feelings for Cliff changed his perspective on that, and while it wasn’t an easy transition, the book ends with promise in that regard.
Cliff is a truly understanding character, and he’s not one to push. But he’s no pushover either. He goes after what he wants and needs, and makes it clear to Paul where he stands. But he’s also got a huge heart, and he understands that it’s not an easy thing. He’s a sounding board for Paul, and gives Paul something outside of work to focus on. These guys have great chemistry, and their romance is believable and emotional.
The author did a great job with the balance between the romance side of things and the mystery side of things. All too often, a book like this focuses too heavily on one or the other. But the two plot lines were, as I said, well balanced, and both got the right amount of page time. That being said, some parts of the investigative side were a bit rushed to me, in the actual narrative, and in some scenes the pacing was off. I will say that it wasn’t immediately clear to me who the killer was, and that’s definitely a bonus. For someone like me who reads (and watches) far too many murder mysteries, that’s hard to pull off. I figured it out long before the end, though I was pleased with how it all played out. The right clues were dropped at the right time. I would have liked to see some parts of the narrative expanded upon, however, to really give the weight to the police procedural part of things.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. The characters were good, the story well balanced, and while it wasn’t perfect, it was a good read. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment in this series, to see Paul solve another murder and to follow along on his deepening relationship with Cliff