Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Jake Tyler was a member of a special operations team who left after he found his brother-in-law Riley – who was also his best friend and member of his team – standing over his sister’s dead body with a bloody knife. He worked to make sure Riley was convicted, and then abruptly quit and moved to Wyoming, leaving his long time lover Mitch behind. He opened a bar in a tiny town in Wyoming, and started over, trying to leave everything about his past life behind. He told no one on his team where he was going, and never even said goodbye to Mitch.
When the remainder of his old team shows up in his bar, Jake is angry and conflicted. They came because Riley has escaped from prison, and everyone is convinced that he will head straight for Jake, to exact revenge, or to try again to make Jake believe he is innocent. The team is there to protect Jake, but he doesn’t feel he needs protection, and most of all doesn’t want to be reminded of everything that happened before, and all he walked away from. Especially Mitch.
At first, I believed the entire set up. All the guys are tough as nails, intelligent and resourceful, physically imposing, and share that bond that comes from facing danger and saving each other’s lives. Or that is what they are supposed to be. But they kept falling short of the set up. Or the background wasn’t supported at all by their actions. Riley was supposedly Jake’s best friend for most of his life, married his sister, and they were as close as brothers. But Jake never even considered listening to Riley’s version of events until Riley tracked him down in Wyoming. Jake is supposed to be able to predict Riley’s moves because he was the one who trained him, but he never does. The team is supposed to be the best of the best, and yet their plans to capture or neutralize Riley are pretty amateurish. And the author spent way longer describing the two days before Riley’s arrival than was necessary, and I got tired of Jake angsting over Mitch, over Howie, over how Simon will treat Howie, over whether anyone will be able to eat Moose’s sloppy joes…. Nope, doesn’t make Jake sound all that tough, and certainly not decisive. Then there was Riley’s progress to the bar, which actually started to get funny: he escaped! He must be hitchhiking! He must be stealing a car! He has contacts all over, and of course he’s gotten a gun! How will he be able to get a gun? He has a Hummer, he could just crash right into the bar! He got rid of the Hummer, because the team would know he had it! We’ll never see him coming! Let’s put the retired Marines outside to reconnoiter! Lets get those retired Marines inside before they get themselves killed! Jake, get in the basement! No, I won’t! OK, I will! I must be the one to confront Riley, I will not be in the basement! I don’t know who edited this, but I’m not impressed.
And it didn’t even end there. I got the impression that the Ms. Brown thought it would be great (or at least profitable) to write a story consisting entirely of stereotypical alpha males, because they are hot, and therefore six of them will be six times hotter. Of course the most manly occupation possible is special forces, so that’s what they are. Although I never saw exactly what organization they were part of – military? NSA? CIA? Who knows, who cares, these guys are oozing testosterone through their hard bodies, and being hot will make up for their inconsistent and frankly stupid actions. And rambling plot with huge holes. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy the occasional dual alpha male story that involves them beating the shit out of each other, or the bad guys, as a form of foreplay (i.e., Ty and Zane in Abigail Roux’s Cut and Run series do that trope excellently), but the author just kind of missed the mark here. By a mile.
Cover art by Garrett Leigh works perfectly.
Kindle Edition, 150 pages
Published November 24th 2016 by Sue Brown’s Stories
SeriesJ.T.’s Bar #1