Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

Cask Strength

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Cask Strength (2017) Layla Reyne

Aidan Talley and Jameson Walker are partners, and enjoying each others company. But nothing more. Just casual is all Aidan wants, because he doesn’t think he can survive the loss of someone else he loves.

Jameson thinks he can handle “just casual” but if he’s fooling Aiden, he’s not fooling himself, and Aiden getting shot make it clear Jameson can no longer deal with just casual.

I would’ve killed Casanova myself if I had to sit in that glass cage with him today.”

Her face softened. “Ah, he’s reverted.”

Jamie debated whether to say more, given the deniability she clung to, but she’d opened the door with that comment. “I’d heard. I just didn’t think…”

“Aidan’s not good at lonely. Before Gabe, he was a player. No other word for it, and I say that with all the affection of a sister.”

“He committed to Gabe.”

“He loved Gabe. He was worth giving up all the others.”

And you’re not. Stomach heaving at the implication, he eyed the trash can.

If I already hadn’t had lots of sympathy for Aiden from the first book, I don’t think I would have been able to stomach Jameson still trying to salvage a romantic relationship. But Aiden was all but destroyed when his husband was murdered so his fears are reasonable–especially when they both work in dangerous fields.

The back story is important here. Jameson, Aiden, and Mel (their boss) are looking into the hit-and-run that killed Aiden’s husband as well as his partner.

I was blocked from the investigation because of my personal connections to the victims. As soon as SFPD ruled it a hit and run, my predecessor closed the case. With the promotion pending and Aidan’s injury rehab, I backed off. They questioned Aidan extensively.

The bigger problem is that Mel and Jameson are keeping secrets from Aiden.

But ten to one, he had something major on Gabe and Tom. And if I have to tell Aidan the man he loved most in the world and the man he trusted to watch his back betrayed him, I need to be able to tell him why.

But they have to continue with their regular work, which means Jameson being sent under cover in the only way he could possibly go undercover: as an assistant coach at a 2A school, to look into gambling and identify theft.

What I particularly liked about this story was that Jameson is good at coaching, so it’s a particularly believable under-cover assignment. The problem is that it reminds him just how much he misses the game he walked away from.

There is a lot happening here, and I don’t recommend jumping in without having read the previous book. Partially because it makes it clear that Aiden’s past continues to influence his decisions, and also because of the mystery that goes through all three of the books.

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 8.5/10

Categories: 8.5/10, 8/10, LGBT, Mystery, Police, Romance, Sexual Content, Thriller     Comments (0)    

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