Rating: 4 stars
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Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset are married. A few short years ago, they could barely be in the same room together, but now they are a united front. Returning back home from their honeymoon should be a great time in their lives, but stress is waiting on their doorstep in the form of Colt, a 15-year-old boy insisting that Hazard is his father. Hazard knows that this is physically impossible, but Colt’s claims are relentless. There is also another murder in town and Hazard and Somers are on the case immediately.
A man is found dead in the woods under confusing circumstances. The man’s sons are isolated and uncooperative, and the victim’s house gets broken into and robbed during the investigation. While Hazard waits on the results of the paternity test, Colt isn’t much help at home and when an attempt is made on his life, Hazard and Somers know they need to find the killer before another life is taken. The case leads them in many directions and Hazard and Somers work together to reveal the truth. But having so much going on is incredibly stressful, and the honeymoon is most certainly over.
I hear the names Hazard and Somerset and it’s a little thrill to know that they are still out there in the world to check in with. Relative Justice starts a new arc in the Hazard and Somerset franchise with the men married and returning from their honeymoon to 15-year-old Colt on their doorstep. Hazard knows it is impossible that he is Colt’s father—seriously impossible—but everyone talks about the resemblances between him and Colt and Colt is insistent. Still, Colt has nowhere to go and the men let him stay.
There are always several storylines going on in a Hazard and Somerset novel and Ashe keeps them all moving in an impressive way. There is another murder in the horrible town they live in with so many horrible residents and, with children involved, the men are determined to figure it out. The stress is still at an all time high. While we saw Hazard get some help to address his issues in a previous book, he still acts first thinks later and his actions can be volatile and hurtful.
I liked the addition of Colt, but his overall storyline wasn’t as tightly constructed for me. Hazard knows he can’t be Colt’s father, yet doesn’t ask that many questions about Colt’s mother or try to piece Colt’s claims all together, which is 100% the opposite of what Hazard normally does in every situation in each and every book. The men have so much to deal with all at the same time and Hazard does get a paternity test right away, but he doesn’t get to the bottom of Colt’s story as quickly.
While this does start a new arc for the series, this book does not read as a standalone and it would be difficult to jump into the story here. Yet, there were passages of introductory material, like what Somers likes to be called, for example, that seemed out of place for long-time readers that have followed these men and their stories. Theo, from The First Quarto series, is also seen here for a moment, and in a short time we were given a spoiler for his story. Nico is present here and while his storyline is trying to evoke empathy for him, he still can’t lay off trying to make Hazard feel bad, even when asking for favors, but I’m interested in seeing his future storyline play out. The larger part of the mystery gets wrapped up, but there are still loose ends, and I would have liked some of that tied off more as the book came to a close.
I was really wrapped up in this book while I was reading it and Hazard and Somers have come so far in their relationship. They still have many moments, both highs and lows, which is the signature of how they respond to each other and their relationship is not always easy. The preview for the next book has Somers in yet another difficult situation and I will always look forward to more in the lives of Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset.