Review: Elusive Relations (Valor and Doyle Mysteries #2) by Nicky James

Rating: 5 🌈

From the seething long- standing animosity between their two departments, Homicide and MPC , has emerged an incredible series and two books to date focused on a detective from each department. Each man with his own personal traumas and battles, opposing personalities, differing family histories, as well as departmental bad blood between them.

From these basic elements, as well as cold cases and murder mysteries, James has built one of the most fascinating, compelling growing character dynamics I’ve read recently.

Temporary Partner, the first in the series, established the men’s background and departmental histories. A joint case, temporary partners and a cease fire within departments, meant these men had to work together to solve a complicated awful crime with emotional implications for both. It was revelatory for each, personally and professionally.

Shattering assumptions about each other, breaking personal boundaries, in ending up in a one night stand neither can forget about.

Elusive Relations begins as detectives Quaid Valor and Aslan Doyle return physically to their departments and lives, but emotionally it’s each other they’re trying not to think about. It’s all about denial.

Aslan’s coping with his alcoholism, his recovery, AA meetings, and his unhappiness with his social life. And exactly what that means. While Quaid is in a recovery of a different sort, that of having left an abusive relationship, feeling a failure, and alone.

James has created such rich layered portraits of men still working through fundamental issues within themselves, with grief, doubt, deep pain, and emotional resolve that you can’t help but believe in them completely. Whether it’s alone or with support, it comes across as absolutely raw and realistic.

These are elements that each man will continue to work on, grow with throughout both books and, I anticipate, the series. They are deep seated issues, and with alcoholism, a lifelong recovery.

As Aslan’s Homicide Unit arrives to investigate a crime whose victim has unexpected ties to Quaid, the men and departments join forces once more in a case that becomes increasingly convoluted. As well as deeply painful.

The author manages to balance a slow growing relationship between Az and Quaid, the detailed investigation with its revelations, and multiple other seemingly minor storylines that will swing back with a huge impact. There’s no holes, things that look like dead ends aren’t exactly, but just a sideways hill to the right direction. Great mystery btw.

But the heart is really the developing nature of the relationship between Az and Quaid that could so easily be derailed by a misstep by one person. It’s of such a tentative stage that it adds it’s own anxiety and suspense to the storyline.

And then that heartbreaking ending.

I am not a fan of cliffhangers. But this is different. Not one of action but of information. It’s shattering.

And I have to wait until October to see what happens next. But considering how the arc has played out so far, I’m not sure the mystery will be solved in that book either. It’s that’s deep, and has a long process behind it. I’ll be happy to have several more novels to go.

Until then, I’m highly recommending this series and absolutely Elusive Relations (Valor and Doyle Mysteries #2) by Nicky James.

It’s beautifully written, outstanding characters, fantastic arc, slow burn romance. The books must be read in the order they were written for characters histories, relationships, and arc development.

Valor and Doyle Mysteries:

✓ Temporary Partner #1

✓ Elusive Relations #2

◦ Unstable Connections #3 – October 17, 2022 › showElusive Relations (Valor and Doyle Mysteries, #2) by Nicky James – Goodreads


Life was easier when rival detectives, Quaid Valor and Aslan Doyle, kept to their own sides of the building. They could forget the one glorious night they’d shared and move on.

But when Aslan is called to a homicide and discovers one of the victims has a personal history with Quaid, he knows a confrontation is inevitable.

When news about the case spreads, Quaid can’t help but get involved. He wants answers; if not for himself, then for the families of the victims.

Joining Aslan and his partner, Quaid uncovers more than he bargained for—too many secrets and lies in a case that is dangerously personal.

Plus, the more time he spends with Aslan, the harder it is for Quaid to ignore his attraction to the playboy detective.

Aslan, who doesn’t believe in repeats, can’t seem to stop flirting with the grumpy MPU detective, and his rules go out the window as they’re drawn deeper into the case.

But what happens when one more night turns to two, and two turns into three?

Does Quaid want to risk his heart again?

Has Aslan developed feelings?

Can they put a stop to their fun and walk away?

Do they want to?

**The Valor and Doyle Mysteries are a same-couple, ongoing series and should be read in order. The main mystery plot of each book will be resolved within the story, but there are elements that are overarching throughout the series**


Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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