Rating: 3 stars out of 5
I must say that the first few chapters of this book were super confusing. I picked it up because it was first in a series and yes, I knew it was a spin-off of a previous series that many of my friends enjoyed. I thought coming in at the beginning of a new series would be a good place to start, but I was wrong. Throwing readers into action in the first chapter that used previous characters without an explanation as to the dynamics and relationships was very, very confusing. There really wasn’t even a backstory on their mission or their agencies or their work history, so unless someone reads the other series first, this is a tough one to read as a standalone.
Dominic “Nic” Price is a US attorney and he also owns a brewery. Cameron Byrne is a Special Agent with the FBI specializing in kidnap and rescue operations. Apparently, the two met and shared a first kiss in one of the books of the previous series so there’s somewhat of a relationship there at the start.
I had to consult the blurb a few times to keep the story straight because there was so much action and so many former character names and acronyms used that I was easily confused. Maybe it’s just me, but I like my stories to build slowly or at least give me a backstory immediately after the initial explosion of action, but I didn’t get that here. Then there’s a secondary plot that never gets resolved, but is apparently connected to Nic’s estrangement from his father. Someone is out to kill Nic, and somehow that’s connected to his father’s gambling debts. As the story closes, this subplot is brought back to the forefront so I suspect it’s going to be featured in the next book.
In the meantime, to get to the heart of the burglary and kidnapping that occurred in this story, Cam volunteers for an undercover operation that will be emotionally painful for him. It’s related to a tragedy in his past but it’s never quite clear exactly what that is. His coworkers and boss, who was away on his honeymoon as the story opened—another former book storyline—all seem to understand exactly why it’s a problem. Nevertheless, the main plot is resolved and he and Nic get together romantically by the end of the book, after a series of starts and stops due to work conflicts.
I would recommend this to someone who has read the author’s previous stories, but not to someone like me who had no clue of the history and backstory of this band of characters. Even now, days after finishing, I’m still trying to piece it together. Short of a full reread, which I’m not sure will help, I remain confused.
The cover features a close-up of a bearded man in business dress with a shaded older man in the background. It represents the couple in the story and is bright and attention-getting.
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 272 pages
Expected publication: July 23rd 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleImperial Stout
SeriesTrouble Brewing #1