Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Brian Kerr has spent years hiding behind a facade of mental slowness. His brother and sister got all three of them off the streets and into a cushy life, under the protection of a dangerous criminal. But to keep that safety, Brian has to use his Finding talent to track down the boss’s enemies. Although he pretends not to know what he’s really doing, each Find takes its toll, and he’s trapped in a life he hates, losing touch with his true self.
Nick Rugo’s job is to protect and serve the people of Minneapolis as an undercover cop. He isn’t closeted, but he isn’t out at work, and there’s a wild, angry side to him that he’s managed to keep hidden until now. When he’s assigned to bring Brian’s boss to justice, he intends to use anything and anyone it takes to do that.
Nick initially sees Brian as a pawn to be played in his case, but he keeps getting glimpses of a different man behind the slow, simpleminded mask. As the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear they share secrets, some of which might get them both killed.
A very usual contemporary with a paranormal twist and flawed characters of an entirely different type than I’m used to reading. This one set itself apart from most that I’ve read and stuck in my head (in a good way). Each and every character is interesting, multi-layered, and well-drawn, the pacing moved well, and there were even well-handled animal characters which is always a plus for me. This story unfolds slowly but it didn’t take long to discover that for those like me who love broken boys, this series promises to be a find indeed.
Not high on the heat meter and even the romance element is on the milder side, but that seems fitting given the characters in this story. Nick Rugo and Brian Kerr are worlds apart in many ways, but they share difficult childhoods that have left them trying hold themselves together by whatever means they can. Nick often deals by lashing out in physical violence such as bar fights, while Brian deals by hiding within himself behind the persona of a simpleton called Bry. But is Bry real or did Brian create him as a cover? Even Brian himself seems confused on that point.
The author rather leaves us guessing as to what exactly is wrong with Brian aside from severe dyslexia. How much of who he is (or pretends to be?) is the result of a defense mechanism he began in childhood? How slow/special needs is he really? That’s not immediately clear. Hell, it’s not even totally clear by the end. And I actually loved that. It kept me thinking and guessing and trying to piece things out.
In the end, I decided that regardless of how slow Brian might be, one thing is for sure, he’s far from stupid. His intelligence shines though to me in many ways. Devising an intricate ruse/cover (or even playing into it) and keeping it up over the long haul wouldn’t have been easy. I loved how sometimes Brian’s true intelligence would slip out in the things he said, and how adept he was at covering them up with quick thinking and acting. Also Brian certainly seemed to have a handle on good/bad and right/wrong–he continuously makes insightful and succinct judgments about those around him and his insights into the motivations of others showed a high degree of intuitiveness.
I applaud the author for tackling this rather different type of romance. At first I had a hard time seeing how these two could forge a relationship that would believably complement each other without being woefully uneven, without one being more of a caregiver. By the end of the book, the author had me believably seeing how these two men complemented each other, how each had needs that the other met, and that they were if not equal, at least moving towards it. I felt the sexy bits were skillfully handled and fitting for this couple.
Brian’s siblings, Lori and Damon, are also nuanced characters with complicated motivations that make them far from black/white, bad/good. I’m glad this will be a series because I there are so many questions still in my mind, so many things I’d love to explore and learn about all of them.
When I read a story, connecting to the characters is probably one of the most important things for me. I definitely got that here. I liked Nick, found Brian fascinating, and adored badass Damon. I hope there’ll be more of him in the book two.
The cover is eye-catching and hot. Love everything about it, the layout, the model, the black and white with just a flash of color, it’s perfect.