Rating: 4 stars
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Simon Kincaide and Vic D’Amato are happily in love and settling into their lives together. Both came to Myrtle Beach from troubled relationships, but the men have found a second chance at happiness with each other. Things are getting serious, and both men are contemplating taking the next steps in their relationship. Things are a little tense as the Slitter trial is coming up soon and it is likely that Simon and his role in the case will get dragged into the public eye. But otherwise things seem fairly quiet, even as Simon gets called in to consult on a few different ghostly cases that need his intervention.
Things get stirred up for the men, however, when Simon’s ex-boyfriend shows back up in his life after years of no communication. Simon has no interest in returning to Jacen or to his life at the university, but Jacen and his mother continue to push and refuse to respect Simon’s choices in life, or to acknowledge his happiness. As troublesome as that is, it is nothing compared to the threat from Vic’s past that comes back into his life. Someone is looking for revenge against Vic and wreaking all sort of havoc. The danger continues to escalate, and what starts out as threats to his job quickly turns into threats to his life and to the lives of those around him. Now the race is on to figure out who is behind the attacks and how to stop them — particularly when the attacker is using powerful magic to evade capture. Vic and Simon know they want to spend their lives together, but as the danger increases, someone may end their lives before they get the chance.
Loose Ends is the third novel in Morgan Brice’s excellent Badlands series, and this is another entertaining installment. I love Vic and Simon as a couple and this story really reinforces what a good fit they are for each other. These guys both came out of bad relationships and neither expected to find love like they have with each other. As a couple, they are romantic and sexy and tender. I love the way they support each other, particularly how Vic fully believes in Simon and his paranormal talents. The story has both quiet moments for the couple, as well as thrilling ones, and through it all I could really feel the connection that has grown between them.
While the story does have some supernatural elements, particularly as Simon is looking into various hauntings, the main focus here is on someone from Vic’s past who is putting the men in danger. I was a little surprised how fast we learn who the bad guy is, but I still think the story is exciting and tense, particular toward the end when things really heat up. There are enough twists here to keep the intensity up throughout the story. While the attacker is using magic to evade capture, there really isn’t much of the supernatural within the main thriller plot itself, unlike in earlier books. So I did miss that a little here. I also felt like some threads are opened up here that don’t really go anywhere. There is a lot of lead up prior to the actual conflict that only ties in very loosely to the main issue (in hindsight we can see a vague connection, but it still felt like open threads that didn’t totally connect). Also, much is made of the Slitter case going to trial and the affect that will have on the guys, and that thread doesn’t really develop into anything here in this story (though maybe this is a set up for the next book).
So I think the supernatural side of things was a bit weaker here than in the other stories. However, the book is still exciting and I think Brice does a nice job in building the suspense and tying it nicely into the relationship end of things for Simon and Vic. Things get intense and exciting and I loved to see how Vic and Simon continue to grow stronger even as they face adversity. I really enjoy this series and am looking forward to more.