When River meets Bentley DeGray in a coffee shop, he is immediately drawn to the man, but he also knows he shouldn’t get involved. River has way too much happening in his life on many levels to even consider a relationship, but he finds himself wanting to spend time with Bentley anyway.
Bentley is having his own issues right now, including the looming loss of his last remaining family member. He is also working on a new case for the Vampire Related Crimes Unit as they investigate the kidnapping of prominent vampires around the city. Like River, Bentley knows that this isn’t the time for a relationship, but he can’t stop himself from wanting to be with the engaging man who makes him so happy.
As River and Bentley start falling for one other, they come to rely on each other for much needed support and love. But the complications both men face are becoming even more overwhelming and between Bentley’s case and River’s personal issues, everything is coming to a head at once. The men have fallen hard for each other, however, and despite the conflicts (and the danger), they are determined to be there for one another.
Ok, so how is that for super vague? There are a lot of things about the set up for this book that are super spoilerific, so I am really just grazing the plot here so I don’t ruin any of the surprises. Know that this story is very much in keeping with the other books in Alice Winters’ fabulous Vampire Related Crimes series. We have a suspenseful investigative thriller, humor, a great relationship, and interaction with the whole gang from the VRC. While this story is somewhat heavier than the others, it still fits in with the series well and kept me totally engaged. I’ll also note that the story fits into the series timeline starting after the events of book 1 and continuing across books 2 and 3. So while the plot here stands alone pretty well, there are some spoilers here for earlier books, as well as references to events already familiar to series readers. So this one definitely should be read in order.
The heart of this book is really the relationship between River and Bentley. For a lot of reasons (most of which I can’t tell you), both men are going through a lot in their lives and both are feeling very much alone as they try to handle it. River and Bentley both recognize there is too much complication in their lives for a relationship, but at the same time, they are both so drawn to each other and get so much comfort from each other that they can’t stay away. There is a sweetness here I really enjoyed, along with the heat between them. They take care of each other, support each other, and provide that unconditional love that really is what they both need so desperately. The banter here between the men isn’t as intense as with Finn and Marcus, and that makes sense when you learn more about both of them. But River and Bentley definitely do have a humorous way about their interactions, and both Finn and Marcus are active side characters, so you still get plenty of their antics for some comic relief.
This story also follows the investigation into the person who is kidnapping vampires. We know early on that the vampires have been up to no good and the vigilante is trying to expose them, and over the course of the book we get all the details on the horrifying story. So this has a darker element as we learn what is really going on, and the book definitely has a nice intensity. There are lots of complications with the case, including the fact that some high profile people are involved and making it difficult to conduct the investigation, as well as threats to the lives of pretty much everyone. There is a lot happening here that I am trying to avoid talking about directly, but trust me when I say the suspense side of things is exciting and well developed. There are some shocking moments and revelations here, two of which had me gasping, so lots of great stuff.
As I mentioned, the timeline here spans books 2 and 3, so it is fun to come back and see some of the events of those books through River and Bentley’s eyes. I think Winters does a nice job of orienting us as to the passage of time and how the story parallels the events of the other books. And all the gang plays a role here, so we get to reunite with the various MCs from the earlier stories as well. Since these guys are much more “normal” than the other characters, it was entertaining to see these characters through their eyes.
I found this another great installment to a really fun series. This one is a bit more intense and angsty, and not quite as silly humorous (though still plenty amusing), but it fits well with these characters and what they are going through. Winters does a great job pulling off some surprises and creating a really intense story that fits perfectly within the series. Definitely check this one out.