dude magnet coverRating: 4 stars
Buy Links: 
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Length: Novel


Dashiell Dawson Dane is living in Hemlock House and still hoping to make it as a mystery writer. But aging mansions don’t pay for themselves, so Dash is renting the house out for a wedding. Dealing with the rich and entitled family is stressful enough, but when Dash’s ex-boyfriend, Hugo, arrives in hopes of winning Dash back, it just makes the situation all the messier. Dash knows leaving town the way he did post-break up wasn’t the kindest move, but he also knows he is happier in his new life and isn’t interested in getting back together with Hugo.

However, when the groom-to-be ends up murdered and Hugo is looking like the prime suspect, Dash isn’t willing to let him take the fall for a crime he didn’t commit. The new sheriff in town is quite clear that she expects Dash to stay far away from any murder investigations, but Dash isn’t one to sit by when he thinks a friend is being falsely accused. With the help of the rest of the “last picks,” Dash begins to dig into the mystery, starting with the groom’s twin brother (who also happens to want to take Dash out on a date). But the closer Dash gets to finding the killer, the more dangerous the situation becomes. When Dash finds himself in the murderer’s sights, it will take all he has (plus a little help) to make it out alive.

Dude Magnet is the second book in Gregory Ashe’s Last Picks cozy mystery series. I am finding this series a lot of fun, with a nice dose of humor, and quirkiness to both the story and characters. Ashe also brings a lot to the story with the rich setting of the Oregon coast, which gives some great atmosphere to the books. Once again, Dash jumps into the investigation believing the cops have the wrong killer and unable to stand aside. After the first murder, things sort of snowball, as more bodies turn up and motives become clearer. The investigation is focused on a small group of people who are part of the wedding family, so it is really a matter of figuring out who wanted the others dead (and of course, it turns out there could be multiple suspects). However, Dash and the gang aren’t doing as much sleuthing here as they do in the first book and I missed a little of that amateur investigator side of things. But the mystery comes together well, with some excitement at the end.

This story focuses a little more on the personal for Dash, including reuniting with his ex-boyfriend. Hugo is clear he is still in love with Dash and wants him back, but Dash knows he didn’t love Hugo and needed to make the break. However, Dash is also struggling, watching Hugo seeming to fit so seamlessly in with all of his friends and be the “perfect” guy that his family and friends at home always saw him to be. I do wish we had a little more direct discussion of that among Dash and his friends to address his feelings, but it is mostly just internal frustration, rather than something he ever talks to them about. But we do see Dash come to terms with some of his mistakes, like fleeing without really talking to Hugo. At the same time, the personal side ties nicely with the murder case, as Dash also comes to recognize how hard it was to leave a safe and easy relationship and try for something more, something many people don’t have the courage to do. So there is some nice growth and character development for Dash here. Yes, he is still conflict avoidant and a bit of a mess, but he is gaining some insight as well.

Dash’s relationship with Bobby continues to be a (very) slow burn, though there is definitely some forward progress… and then some definite NOT progress. I don’t want to go into details, but Ashe is known for torturing his romantic pairings in his hard core mysteries and some of that seems to be carrying over here as well. I’ll be honest, I wanted things to be smooth sailing for these guys, but I’m hopeful they will get there in the end. Despite wanting all happy all the time, I do think Ashe is bringing some complexity and character development to what could be a light and simple relationship, so I am eager to see how things develop.

I found this to be another nice installment and I am really enjoying this series. I think your feelings about Dash may dictate how well these books work for you overall, but I find him endearing and entertaining. I also love his found family of “last picks” and particularly enjoy the scenes of them all together. I am looking forward to more to come!

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