It’s been three months since the quiet town of Lake Prophet was rocked by murder. Things just seem to be settling down when another man is found dead. This time it is Billy Odette, who was out trail riding and found mauled to death. People in town are quick to blame a local wolf pack that has just moved into the forest, particularly as some locals are eagerly riling everyone up. Sheriff Gabriel Thompson doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions, so he reaches out to Tiber Russo for some help figuring out whether the wolves or another animal could be behind the attack.
Tiber and Gabriel formed a strong connection during the last murder investigation, but Tiber has been keeping things just friends between them. That doesn’t stop a large part of him from wanting Gabriel, or Gabriel wanting Tiber in return, but Tiber’s past relationship has left him shaken and wary. That gets even worse when his ex shockingly shows back up in his life and Tiber is forced to face a past he had hoped to outrun. Gabriel is also dealing with ghosts from his own past, mostly in the form of nightmares that haunt him. Gabriel is slowly rebuilding his relationship with his brother, but he is still struggling with his experiences in L.A.
As Gabriel digs further into the murder investigation, he once again begins to rely on not only Tiber’s expertise with animals, but the steady, calming presence he provides Gabriel himself. The two men are falling hard for one another and realizing that, despite their pasts, there is something worth fighting for between them. But with a killer on the loose and the men getting ever closer to finding who is behind the murder, they may find their own lives on the line.
Equinox is the second story in Eli Easton and R.J. Scott’s excellent Lake Prophet Mysteries series. I went absolutely wild for the first book, Solstice, and was thrilled to learn the authors had more stories planned. The authors once again do a great job blending the romance and the mystery side of things here and we get some nice progress for Gabriel and Tiber. The men have sort of been in a friendship holding pattern, as Tiber is wary about getting into another relationship. But there is this lovely sense of calm that settles between Gabriel and Tiber when they are together and a feeling that they can each relax and just breath when they are around each other. This story focuses more on Tiber’s demons, as he is forced to confront things with his ex, and we see a nice sense of him coming to recognize his own growth and strength in the aftermath. It helps give Tiber the confidence to try moving things forward with Gabriel and we see the men beginning to settle into their new boyfriend status. We also gets some more hints about Gabriel’s past and see things improve a little more with his brother, but most of Gabriel’s story seems to be coming in the next book. I really love these guys together and there is such a sweetness to the way they interact that balances nicely with the intense mystery storyline.
The mystery once again takes advantage of the both the national park setting and the small town of Prophet, and the authors really bring both to life. There is just this great vibe of Prophet as this somewhat isolated town amidst this huge forest that adds some great atmosphere. We reconnect here with many of the locals we meet in the first book and there is a nice sense of place to the story. The mystery also once again takes advantage of Tiber’s connection with animals, which I find such an interesting aspect of his character. I will say that the mystery itself, while well written and engaging, didn’t have quite the punch of the first story for me. Whereas the first mystery was so layered, with one thing leading to the next in really surprising ways, things are much more straightforward here in terms of who is behind it all and their motive. I kept expecting some more twistiness on par with the first story, which we don’t really get. That said, I found this story engaging and the mystery well written.
I am really loving this series and enjoying the writing duo of Scott and Easton. I am so looking forward to the third book and seeing how things develop for Gabriel and Tiber, as well as the small town of Prophet.