Review: Parting Shot (A Matter of Time #7) by Mary Calmes

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Parting Shot coverDet. Duncan Stiel, closeted homicide detective, had a childhood so bad that he never talks about it.  All the events in his past has lead to Duncan growing up as an adult who keeps his personal life and his emotions hidden, including his sexual orientation. Duncan’s reserve and determination to remain closeted has already cost him the only real relationship he has had to date (see Acrobat).  So when Duncan meets and hooks up with Aaron Sutter, billionaire and equally closeted gay man, Duncan thinks that finally he has met a man on the same page emotionally as he is.  No longer will he have to worry that Aaron will want  him to meet family or friends, or even come out of the closet where Duncan is most comfortable, all the things that caused his last relationship to break up.  Duncan is a man consumed by his job, including the need to occasionally go undercover.  The last thing Duncan ever expected was to  find love with Aaron Sutter.

Aaron Sutter has finally realized that Jory will never be his and that it is time to move on.  Duncan Stiel is as far from the type of guys that Aaron normally finds attractive,  Instead of a slender blond twink, the detective is tall, muscular, and an alpha in every way.  And in no time at all, Aaron is smitten, lusting after the detective in a manner so unlike himself that Aaron is astounded at his own behavior. When Duncan is hurt, Aaron has an epiphany that shakes him to the core, making Aaron question the decisions he made in the past.

But Aaron is also involved in a mean, and desperate fight with his father over control of Sutter Enterprises. Staying in the closet and away from Duncan might be the only way he can stay in control.  Duncan too is involved in a criminal case so dangerous that it threatens not only his fragile new relationship with Aaron but their lives as well.  As the obstacles mount up against them,  the men must fight not only against outside influences but their own inner demons as well if they are to find their way to love and a future together.

I love Mary Calmes.  She is a wonderful storyteller who has created a pantheon of characters both memorable and addicting that they have cried out to be included in one book after another.  Parting Shot is not only an addition to A Matter of Time series but incorporates characters from other favorite novels of mine as well, including Mine and Acrobat.   The inclusion of these characters is important in a number of ways in describing why Mary Calmes is so good as what she does.  Both men, Nate and Terrence Moss (also known as Conrad Harris) make only a brief appearance here, but just the mention of their names brings up a well of memories and emotions created by their stories (Acrobat and Mine respectively).  They make an impact despite the brevity of their scenes in Parting Shot because of Mary Calmes’ incredible gift of creating characters we commit to memory and bury deep within our hearts.   Just look at Duncan Stiel and Aaron Sutter.

Both men started out as satellite characters in other stories.  Aaron Sutter was once the boyfriend of Jory Keyes before Sam Kage arrives into the picture.  Aaron continues to flow through their story, a man determined to regain Jory’s affections and then finally as a true friend to be counted on. Hard to make an arrogant billionaire with a predilection for sharing his lovers with other men likable but Calmes made him a complex and ultimately appealing character.  No matter his actions, there was just something about Aaron as created by Calmes that spoke to the reader and garnered their affections.  Aaron just demanded that he have his own story and now he has gotten it, to my absolute delight.

Duncan Stiel was a little harder sell.  He was a complete jerk when he appeared in Acrobat, although handsome, and competent, a complete alpha male.  Parting Shot helps explain Duncan’s behavior by presenting us with his past.  Once we see his traumatic childhood revealed, then those personality traits that made him so unappealing becomes understandable.  Duncan Stiel of Parting Shot is someone the reader connects with on every level.  I just love him.

These two men have arrived independently at the same stage in their lives where they want a real relationship.  Both have Jory and Sam as an example of what they are missing in their lives and what they can attain if only they take a chance and change.  The men meet and fall instantly in lust.  That’s extremely realistic knowing what we do about these men.  But what follows is also just as authentic given their personality traits and their pasts.  They just mesh with each other in almost every way.  I have seen this happen in real life.  When the timing is right, things (and people) just fall into place.  Not the case of “instant love” that appears so often in other stories but a connection based in reality and the personalities of the men involved.  I believed totally in their relationship and feelings towards each other.  It just felt right.

Aaron and Duncan are also an extremely sexy couple.  They are equals in and out of the bed.  I loved that about them as well.  Their sex scenes together are hot, sensual, realistic, and sometimes quite funny.  Aaron is really out of his element here and Mary Calmes incorporates that aspect into their relationship in some wonderfully funny scenes and dialog.  They cracked me up, just amazing.

Duncan is involved in a case with some very dangerous criminals, pulling him undercover yet again several times in the book (including a undercover gig that brings in Marshall Sam Kage). This storyline flows along side one in which Aaron is dealing with his father who is determined to overthrow his son as the head of Sutter Enterprises so the father can resume his control over the company.  The corporate fight Aaron is engaged in is just as critical as the criminal investigation Duncan is engaged in.  Each power struggle and criminal case has ramifications for both men.  It will cause them to examine their closeted lives and determine the paths their lives will take in the future.  Powerful stuff indeed.   And Mary Calmes makes it just as exciting and suspenseful as it sounds.

This is a completely absorbing novel.  Once you pick it up, be prepared to remain situated until you have finished the book.  It pulls you into the lives of Duncan and Aaron and all those around them.  If you are new to the series, it helps to read the preceding books to fully understand the nature of these men and the relationships they had in the past.  Grab up Mine and Acrobat while you are at it.  Have a very merry Mary Calmes sort of weekend!  I highly recommend them all, including Parting Shot.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  I love Dante’s cover but it really doesn’t pertain to this story.  It could be the cover for any number of books and that’s too bad because this story had so many elements that could have been used to make it relevant to the story within.  Consider this cover a misstep.

Here are the books  of A Matter of Time in the order they were written and should be read:

A Matter of Time (#1)

A Matter of Time (#2)

A Matter of Time (#3)

A Matter of Time (#4)

Bulletproof (A Matter of Time #5)

Just Jory (A Matter of Time #5.5)

But For You (A Matter of Time #6)

Parting Shot (A Matter of Time, #7)

A Matter of Time, Vol. 1 (A Matter of Time, #1-2) reworked and reedited

A Matter of Time, Vol. 2 (A Matter of Time, #3-4)reworked and reedited

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published July 19th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623808758 (ISBN13: 9781623808754)
series A Matter of Time

Review of But For You (A Matter of Time #6) by Mary Calmes

Rating: 4.5 stars

Jory Harcourt finally has everything he has ever wanted.  He has his husband, US Marshall Sam Kage, after many obstacles and stumbling blocks.  They have their two adopted children, their son Kola and their daughter Hannah, and even a deranged cat named Chilly.  They have a house in the suburbs, a minivan Jory loves and their family and friends are happy as well.  So of course, this means that trouble is about to barge into their life and turn it upside down.

When Jory intervenes in a neighbors marital dispute by the curb, it figures that the only ones injured were Jory and his minivan.  But during his visit to the hospital, the Doctor on call turns out to be someone Sam was involved with down in Mexico during the three years they were separated. Someone Sam has never told Jory about to Jory’s consternation. Then a hitman climbs their balcony of their hotel at the family reunion, and a missing informer may just not be missing after all.  With criminals chasing them, and Sam after the criminals and Jory ending up in the middle,  things are getting a little bit out of hand yet again.  But now Jory and Sam have a family and a normal life and that’s worth fighting for! So the criminals had better beware.

But for You is the last book in the saga of Jory Harcourt and US Marshall Sam Kage which started with A Matter of Time novels.  And it has taken Jory and Sam and the readers on a long and complicated journey to get to their Happily Ever After.  Mary Calmes has had our boys separated on more than one occassion, they both have been shot and injured, miscommunication and sometimes just bad timing has at one time or another interfered in their passionate courtship but eventually Mary Calmes always brought Jory and Sam back together come hell or high water. When the author created Jory Harcourt and Sam Kage, she endowed each of them with such staying power both as individuals and as a couple, that they are often nominated as favorite couple at poll time.

Jory Harcourt has been a memorable persona right from the start in 2009.  Full of life, nosy, loyal, and trouble on two feet, Jory captured the imaginations and hearts of readers immediately.  How could you not love someone who could turn a mere errand into a disaster with citywide implications in a matter of minutes?  Meet someone, have a conversation and coffee with them and have their new friend turn out to be a sought after mobster?  That would be Jory.  Lovable, klutzy, and way too endearing for his own good. The readers loved Jory immediately. Then Mary Calmes created Sam Kage as his soul mate because goodness knows only someone with the shear mass and attitude of a US Marshall would be enough to keep Jory under control, at least most of the time.  But of course, getting Sam to see that Jory was perfect for him was not a easy task, including the fact that Sam had to accept his own “gay” card in order for that to happen.  So their meeting, courtship, curtailed courtship, renewed courtship was carried out over a series of books.  I can tell you their roller-coaster of a romance caused much angst and heart flutterings along the way.  And each time we think their relationship is safe and secure, something or someone comes along to shake them and the status quo up but good.  It never mattered how wild the complication or how bad the  criminals involved, Sam and Jory (whether Sam wanted it or not) were in the thick of things.

Now comes the last Jory and Sam story and I will be so very sorry to see such an entertaining and adorable couple go.  But Mary Calmes has given us a heartwarming portrait of a contented happily married couple with the kids they have always wanted, complete with house, cat and minivan to take with us as we leave them behind.  For one thing, it is easy to see that the author is a mother herself.  Kola and Hannah behave and talk like real children and I loved them.  It doesn’t matter whether six year old Kola is telling four year old Hannah not to lick Chili their cat or if looking at a magnificent hotel fountain makes Hannah need to pee, the children come across as realistic as any child I know.  When Kola makes retching sounds when his parents kiss, I was cracking up because I have heard and seen children do exactly that.  And when Hannah  goes into a 20 minute description about a bug and a leaf, yep that happens too.  And then there are Sam and Jory’s reactions to their kids.  Trying not to laugh when they know they should be stern?  Absolutely.  Horrified when someone abuses their power at school and their kid gets hurt?  You betcha!  All real, all wonderfully familiar, at least to any of us that have children.  And I love that they are still as passionate and crazy about each other no matter how complicated their lives get.  These great characterizations are why we feel in love with Jory and Sam to begin with.

The Cartel storyline that has carried through all of the books is finished here and loose ends are tied up.  Of course, not without Sam disappearing and Jory getting into trouble.  It wouldn’t seem like a Jory and Sam story if that wasn’t the case.  And all of their family members are here too to say goodbye.  Dane and Aja and their kids, Dylan and her kids, Sam’s family and more.  Even Aaron (remember him?) and Duncan are here as well.  Jory and Sam are hunted by criminals and Sam in turn hunts them right back.  There is danger and there is resolution.  And in the end, Jory, Sam, Hannah and Kola and even their cat Chili are moving into a new house and happy in their lives together.

Do I have any quibbles?  Sure, I wish it would have been longer, I wish I could have had more of Sam and Jory together, more of Sam and Jory with their children, more of……well, you get my drift.  But if they have to go, then their creator has done them proud and sees them off in fine Sam and Jory style.  There’s laughter, some pouts, tears and lots of sex.  Goodbye, Jory.   Goodbye, Marshall Sam.  You will be missed.

Here are the Jory and Sam stories in the order they were written and should be read:

A Matter Of Time – Books 1 through 4

Bulletproof (A Matter Of Time #5)

Just Jory (A Matter of Time 5.5) find it here.

But For You (A Matter Of Time #6)

Cover art by Reese Dante.  Aww, loved it and a perfect way to send them off.