Bodhi and Morgan are still in that honeymoon phase of their relationship. They can’t get enough of each other, can’t get enough of staring, touching, being in the same room, let alone the same bed with one another, but the real world has a way of getting in the way. Morgan, beloved star of the popular TV show, Hart’s Desire — a supernatural drama with vampires, demons, and werewolves where Morgan plays the titular Hart — is back at work, which means getting up early, staying out all day, and coming back late and exhausted. Bodhi’s own job as an FBI agent is also taking its toll on the couple. He’s home late at night, often crashing into bed just as Morgan’s getting out of it, and the two of them haven’t had the time they’ve wanted or needed. And then Bodhi gets stabbed.
Well, sliced, really. It isn’t that bad. It is a fairly deep cut, needing 12 stitches, and really the extensive bruising is much more painful. And the concussion was more worrying for the doctor, but Bodhi’s fine! He just needs bed rest and some down time. For Morgan, as awful as this is, it’s also a chance at a bit of a couple’s vacation as Hart’s Desire is visiting a supposedly haunted hotel for a season finale (and cliffhanger) in Colorado. It’s a far cry from LA and Bodhi and Morgan are both looking forward to having a few moments together.
Between a Hollywood tragedy, a haunted film reel, and a possible possession, Bodhi ends up fighting the ghosts of The Bramford for Morgan’s sanity, and even his very life.
The Vertigo Effect is a sequel to Pull Back, but it reads — and is somewhat intended to be — a standalone. You don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy the relationship between Bodhi and Morgan, and there are no hanging or overarching plot lines connecting the two books. However, I did enjoy the first story and do recommend that you give it a try if you find yourself enjoying this one.
Morgan sets the scene well, telling the story to Bodhi about The Bramford where, in the 1930s, a Halloween party went wrong, leaving two people dead and one missing, all because of a cursed film — the Alabaster Rose — which has gone down in Hollywood history as one of the great mythical mysteries. When, somehow, Morgan manages to find the still-watchable film reel, of course nothing would do but for Morgan, the other actors, the crew, and the producers to put it on and watch it. While the movie leaves several people angry, irritable, and even physically ill, something in it captivates Morgan.
Morgan loves acting, loves the technical aspects, and the convoluted and sinister history. He enjoys the work, the costumes, the people, and the fans. It’s a passion he’s given his life to and when the new showrunner (the person who holds the purse strings) seems to have it out for the show and the people who work on it, Morgan is quick to stand up to her. For someone used to being able to charm the world, all he can seem to do it antagonize her, and Morgan — who tries to make peace, who wants people to get along so they can all do their jobs — uncharacteristically brushes her off. It’s not like him, but then, so little about Morgan is like him, ever since watching that film.
For Bodhi, his life is one of power and control. Days, weeks, even months may go by with nothing happening, with paperwork, planning, researching, tedious, boring desk work that is still important — especially so that information isn’t missed, so that people don’t fall through the cracks of their investigations — only to have to spring into action with only a moment’s notice. And those moments, those minutes and hours and seconds, may result in violence or in death. In people being hurt or killed because of the decisions he makes or doesn’t make. It’s wearing and exhausting and, in Morgan’s arms, Bodhi finds peace.
Morgan takes charge of Bodhi in a way he didn’t think he’d ever get. It’s not just the sex, which is great, it’s also the understanding. Morgan knows when Bodhi needs a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, or even just time to sit and be quiet. He pushes all of Bodhi’s buttons and Bodhi is madly in love with him. To see Morgan falling to pieces, to see the man he loves look broken and empty, tears at Bodhi. It leads to him making decisions that could kill his career, but it doesn’t matter because it’s Morgan. And he’d do anything — anything — for Morgan.
This is a nicely moody book to read in October, and for the most part, I enjoyed all of it. It’s fun, the writing is good, the pacing is good, and the characters and their chemistry are good. But, towards the end it becomes clear that this is 100% fiction. Bodhi makes choices that no one in law enforcement, state or federal, is going to make. I can wave it away as, “oh, he’s doing it because he’s in love,” but I think, in this case, story trumped logic and that’s fine. It’s just something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a realistic FBI agent.
There are a handful of errors scattered through the book, like shutter instead of shudder, dominate instead of dominant; there was an occasional dropped word that jumped out at me, but those are probably just copy errors. Those are just small things that only slightly detracted from my enjoyment of this book. I really hope the author keeps up with this series because I really enjoy this couple!