Simon Labelle is a good cop in a small town. Work is his life and he’s devoted to his job, maybe even obsessed with it. He is still haunted by the local bombing six years ago that is still unsolved and Simon blames himself for not solving the case. Simon has had a few relationships over the years, but he always broke it off when the women started looking for something more, as none of them felt permanent to Simon. However, Simon has always been fascinated with Leona Chaisty. Simon went to high school with her and she filled his teen fantasies. Leona still lives in town, working at the local art craft gallery, and after Simon runs run into Leona again, she once again fills all of his thoughts.
Leona has been on her own for a long time—way longer than a child was supposed to be when she was growing up. Her parents were absent, leaving her alone at a too young age for way too much time. Leona likes to be in control and her dominant personality is evident both in and out of the bedroom. Leona and Simon are both drawn to each other, but they both think they are out of each other’s league. Simon’s desires rattle him to his core and he’s ashamed of how he feels, but Leona draws that side out of him and the two are a natural fit.
When violence reaches their small town once again, the case further pulls Simon and Leona together. But Leona has been resigned to always being alone, Simon might be more fragile than he appears, and they might lose the one thing that could save them both.
I was not familiar with author L. Setterby and Breathe quietly snuck up on me. This book, featuring Leona and Simon, is the first book in the Grenton PD series, with the second book featuring two of the local male cops and I always prefer to start at the beginning of a series if possible.
Simon is a dedicated cop, but an unsolved case from six years ago still has him unsettled. While he has a relationship with his parents and sister, he’s been alone for a while, he drinks a little too much, and he’s depressed. Leona always fascinated him in high school and, as they spend time together, Simon thinks he can never be what Leona needs. Leona is experienced with being a dominant and Simon is afraid of his own desires and thinks that he can’t possibly want what he knows he wants.
Leona is a fascinating character and one I would have liked to have gotten even more depth on. Her parents were abusive in the sense that they left her alone at a young age for days or weeks at a time. She presents a confident front, but Leona doesn’t think she is worthy of being loved and has no idea how to interact with a family. She thinks people will always leave her so she doesn’t allow herself to get left behind anymore.
Leona and Simon have great chemistry as they slowly develop a relationship. They start out having dinner and talking, moving to Leona showing Simon how to explore the side of kink he desperately wants to let out. The scenes were mild, but demonstrated the sensual side that these two created together. Since Simon’s job is a large part of his life, it’s also a large part of the story and the bombing case gets tied into a current case and the police work smoothly fits into Simon’s story.
Breathe sets up two interesting characters in a slow build sensual romance with some small town police work added in. I will look forward to following up with the next book in the series.