Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
I read and liked the Investigating Love series by this author years ago, so I thought I would try these. This trilogy has one overarching storyline, so although each novella focuses on one couple, they have to be read in order and together for maximum enjoyment. Garth, Stevie, Adam, and Zach are friends from university who work at the local amusement park during the summer breaks. The conversation in the diner at the start of summer lets the reader know what they are in for as each character is described and labeled. The plot focuses on criminals using the park as a cover for their activities: something to further tie together these three stories of couples exploring their different kinks with a hurt/comfort trope for all. I didn’t rate the individual stories because the plot is the same and each reader will have their own preference on what type of sex scene and dynamic appeals to them. The BDSM scenes are all pretty steamy, even though I think they are only there for titillation rather than being truly moving. I also don’t think these are realistic representations of loving D/s relationships, just erotic romances with a bit of fun plot. There is a nudge nudge, wink wink quality since Criminal Minds and the Scooby gang are mentioned.
This one focuses on the goth of the group, Garth. He is assigned to work on the ghost train ride for the summer. Most of the details are not believable: Clem works as an investigator that helps the police so they just let Garth leave without questioning him after he discovers a dead body. This is rectified somewhat in book two and three. Clem and Garth drive straight into BDSM the next day, with bondage, when he has very little experience and it’s technically their first date. I appreciate that information is gleaned from actual conversations between the characters rather than info dumps. There are little details, like Garth getting hurt, that just don’t disappear–they stay consistently acknowledged. Garth is the bratty type of submissive for Clem, who likes the challenge and play.
MERRY GO ROUND
Stevie is the sweet and shy one in this group of friends, but still no pushover. He has been assigned to the carousel. His best friend, and crush, Adam, is working security at the park. Although one assumes they have been dancing around their attraction for quite awhile, they are virgins who jump into more without talking about it. Whereas the first couple were much more serious about the BDSM, this couple seem more like they are playing at it. This matches them both being inexperienced and is generally cute. Although they are the same age and the dynamics are not all there, Adam is more like a Daddy with no age play.
Zach has a crush on his former math professor Daniel, who has been dragged into the investigation since he is an expert on mathematical ciphers. He works with the police to decipher the codes the criminals are using. Now that Zach is no longer his student, he is ready to make his move. He is the strictest dom, needing a compliant sub. Again, they rush headlong into a masochistic relationship without any indication Zach would be into that until the first sex scene. There is some scary equipment use here with no discussion about anything. Zach’s father, who owns the park, has not been doing well with all the stress. It is the perfect handing over of the reins for Zach’s care as the police close in on the drug runners and the assassin Harlequin. When Clem and Daniel go to help the police, the three subs can’t resist going to see the conclusion of the investigation.
The epilogue ties up any loose plot strings and gives one more scene between Daniel and Zach. Even though there are several traumatic events in these books, (murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, threats of sexual assault, shooting, and stabbing), they all seem to be there as a reason to excuse the insta-love/lust. The BDSM is used to take everyone’s mind off the criminal investigation and fear. There is amazingly low angst in all three of these. All three couples are looking to the future as the four guys head back to college for their final year.
The cover art is by Erin Dameron-Hill. I love the covers, but they seem quite dark. While there are dark plot points, this is all a bit of fun, so I think some more amusement park colors could have signaled that. Each one highlights the submissive in that story; I think the models used match the characters well.
Published February 26th 2019 by Pride Publishing
SeriesFairground Attractions #2