Rating: 3.75 stars
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Clove might no longer be living in a crap apartment and begging on the streets, but he doesn’t want to take advantage of his best friend’s generosity either. He seizes the opportunity to work for Marcel, Sal Grillo’s right-hand man, and Clove’s long-time crush. Of course, the first solo job Marcel sends him on is a disaster when Clove arrives and finds Hank Rose, the man he’s supposed to collect money from, dead.
Marcel has wanted Clove for years, but now that’s he’s Clove’s boss, he knows the man is off limits. But that doesn’t stop Marcel from protecting Clove at every turn. When Hank’s death opens up a whole can of worms, Marcel takes Clove undercover to a swanky weekend with the express purpose of finding a woman and getting her under Sal’s protection. In order to do that, Clove and Marcel need to pretend to be dating. Both men want more from the other, but neither of them think that’s possible.
Things go from bad to worse when they’re attacked. Clove is severely injured, but when he wakes up, he has the literal key to the mystery. Clove insists on being involved as they uncover secrets, form plots, and figure out how to get everyone out of this mess without starting a turf war no one wants to be a part of. And through it all, Marcel and Clove grow even closer. Life is too short not to take a chance on love, and Marcel and Clove take that leap. But there are forces gunning for them that may end their romance before it’s really begun. It’ll take all their combined smarts to make it out alive.
Breathe My Name is the second book in Davidson King’s Welcome Boulevard series and, while it technically stands alone, I think it’s best read in order. I finished this book with mixed feelings. While I was excited for Clove and Marcel’s story, as their feelings were hinted at in the first book, the mystery/action plot line didn’t always work for me.
We’re introduced to both the MCs in They Call Him Levity, and began to see what kind of characters they are. That’s fleshed out even more here. Clove is smart and resilient, and it’s important to him that he contributes. He overlooks the more shady dealings in Sal’s organization and he certainly doesn’t mind that Marcel has blood on his hands. He’s firmly entrenched in the world that he lives in and he navigates it as best he can. I really liked seeing Clove’s layers revealed and getting to know him even more.
The same goes for Marcel. To be fair, we got a pretty good picture of him in the first book, but he continues to show us that while he can be ruthless, he’s not without a heart. When it comes to Clove especially, but really anyone he cares about, Marcel is soft and squishy. Of course, when it comes to protecting them, he shows no mercy. I particularly loved how tender Marcel was with Clove and that never underestimates him.
The romance between Clove and Marcel is fairly straightforward and hits all the traditional beats. It helps that there’s mutual pining between these two, and so the leap to lovers makes total sense. They’ve been creeping that way, slowly and surely, before the book even begins. But when life throws them a curve ball, they admit their feelings and act on their attraction. From day one, it’s more than just a physical relationship and you know that they are going to do whatever it takes to make their relationship last.
King weaves the romance plot line in throughout the mystery and action plot line and does a good job with balance between them. But for me, the mystery left something to be desired. I found it to be convoluted at times, and not all that well fleshed out. It took cognitive leaps by the characters that seemed to come out of nowhere and were a hundred percent correct. The players involved had to agree with little explanation, and things had to go off without a hitch. Ultimately, it seemed too easy and too pat, which is not to say it wasn’t confusing and twisty. While I thought some points were clever and interesting, it was also incredibly involved. For me, things worked out too well for how involved it was.
Ultimately, I liked the book, but didn’t love it. The characters are once again my favorite part, and I really enjoyed watching their interactions and seeing Clove and Marcel get their love story. But the rest of the plot didn’t always work for me and left me wanting. That being said, I’m still looking forward to more in this series, and King has set up the next book nicely so that it didn’t overwhelm this story, but has me interested in seeing where it goes. If you’re a fan of this author and series, you’re going to want to pick this one up.