A MelanieM Review: Frankie’s Knight (Elemental Connections: IV) (Earthquake #3.5) by T.A. Webb

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Frankie's Knight coverAtlanta Detective Frankie Prater is working a case where young boys working as prositutes have gone missing.  Then he gets a lead on his case from a most unexpected source…the Arizona Flagstaff Police Department where a joint task force has convened after the arrest of a serial  rapist murderer and sadist..  Turns out that this monster is responsible for the abduction of 40 boys and girls from around the country and among them just might be the young boy missing Frankie is looking for in Atlanta.

Frankie journeys to Flagstaff hoping for answers and perhaps even the boy himself.  With him is Brady Owens.  Brady lived six years as a prostitute after his parents threw him out at the age of twelve.  While on the streets, his boyfriend was killed by a rogue cop and he himself was tortured before being saved by Frankie’s brother, the City Knight and his friends.  Now he lives with Frankie and his kids.   Brady has turned eighteen. Brady knows what and who he wants.  It’s Frankie Prater and he is pretty sure that Frankie wants him back.  But how to convince him that he’s all grownup and ready for a relationship?

In the middle of an investigation where the missing kids are  plentiful, their bodies are missing, and clues are scarce, will Frankie figure out his feelings for Brady before the investigation turns deadly once more?

T.A. Webb is killing me here.  Never have I handed out  so many high ratings as I have with this series and authors.  And with Frankie’s Knight, a side story from this year’s Pulp Friction’s Elemental Connections series, the  pattern continues.  Once more, T.A. Webb is able to combine the two series (City Knight) and (Earthquake) in a realistic and dramatic fashion.  Here the connecting element is missing boys, both in Atlanta and Flagstaff.   Unfortunately from the last Earthquake novel, Tremors (Earthquake #3), we have learned  the identity of the culprit behind a main character’s kidnapping.  It is revealed that he is not only a sadist but a serial rapist and murderer of more than 40 boys and girls across the US.  That horrific discovery reverberates across agencies and states where the children were kidnapped, among them Atlanta.

There is always an element of angst to these stories whether it is kidnapping, torture, abuse or murder.  But in Frankie’s Knight, that aspect is heartbreaking as Webb works the reality of  those discarded LGBTQ children on the streets and the life that awaits them there as castoffs from  family and society. There are so many of them, a fact highlighted by the shear number of children this person was able to kidnap and kill without raising alarm. Unfortunately this is another realistic element here as the media and law enforcement can attest.   T.A. Webb’s treatment and characterizations of these kids is both authentic and profoundly painful.  We have seen it in Brady Owens and his friends from the City Knight series last year.  Here Brady’s background of abuse and prostitution will come into play in a most unexpected way.

T.A. Webb’s plot is gripping.  The suspense  builds as the hunt for the Atlanta boy intensifies.  All the law enforcement agents gathered combine forces and resources to put this person away for good, find the boys and girls missing, even if they think it is only bodies to locate at this point.  And through it all, Brady and Frankie are trying to find their way to each other and a HEA.  Webb gives us tension with a capital T, whether it is the building sexual tension between Brady and Frankie or the stress and tension caused by the investigation that comes with a time restriction.  It all builds into an explosive finale worth of the plot and characters.  Just amazing.  And once more,  T.A. Webb leaves the reader wanting more of all the people and couple involved.

I highly recommend Frankie’s Knight and all of the Earthquake and Elemental Connections series.  I have listed them for you at the bottom.  However, in order to avoid spoilers and to understand the sequence of events and character development, they should be read in the order they were written.  Grab them all up today.  This is one amazing author and series!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Amazing cover, I love it.

Sales links:             All Romance eBooks           Amazon           Frankie’s Knight

Books in the Earthquake (Pulp Friction 2014) series in the order they should be read:

Higher Ground (Earthquake #1) (Pulp Friction 2014 #4)
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) (Pulp Friction 2014 #8)
Tremors (Earthquake #3) (Pulp Friction #12)
Frankie’s Knight (Elemental Connections: IV) (Earthquake #3.5)
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) (Pulp Friction 2014 #16)

Higher Ground coverMoving Earth coverTremors cover by TA WebbFrankie's Knight cover

Book Details:
ebook, 65 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by A Bear on Books
ISBN139781310928611
edition languageEnglish

Review: Black Dog (Bannon’s Gym #1) by Cat Grant

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Black Dog coverEddie Roscoe has just arrived at his family’s diner to open up and start preparing for the breakfast run when he sees a young boy and drunk fighting in the back alley.  After breaking it up, Eddie notices the kid’s bruises and other injuries arent’ exactly fresh.  And from the backback the kid was fighting over and the state of the clothes the boy was wearing, Eddie can tell the kid is homeless.  An offer of breakfast and a job brings young Tom into Eddie and his mother’s home and their family.   But it’s another side of Eddie’s life that will bring a measure of safety to Tom as well as bring an old friend back into Eddie’s life.

Eddie Roscoe and Danny Bannon have loved and fought for over 15 years.  But a shared trauma and the resulting guilt has kept them apart and sabotaged every effort they make to reunite.   Now the arrival of Tom Delaney, a teenage runaway, will be the spark that brings them back together and units them in a common cause, that of keeping Tom safe while training him to be a mixed martial arts fighter.

Tom Delaney is young, angry and hurt.  And he has aspects of his past life that he is keeping hidden from those trying to help him, namely Eddie, Danny, and Gloria’s Eddie’s mother.  And when his past, in the form of his abusive father, tracks him down, it will take everyone around him to keep him safe and out of jail.

Black Dog is an emotionally gripping story, one that kept me awake in the wee morning hours until I had finished it.  And that emotional connection is due to Cat Grant’s damaged and vulnerable characters and the situation they find themselves in.  The people she created for Black Dog (and the series) are ones easy to connect with and they engage our sympathies immediately.  First of all, we meet Eddie arriving in his old Ford 150 pickup to open the diner his grandfather started and he now owns with his mother, Gloria.  The scene is vivid, so much so we can almost hear his footsteps sloshing through the puddles of water on the asphalt outside the  diner.   Grant sets not only the tone for the characters in her settings but for the rest of the story as well.  A slightly run down family diner in a neighborhood that has never seen better days, its interior still proclaims its 50’s origin.  And Gloria, Eddie’s constantly smoking mother is recognizable to all who have visited establishments like these.  I absolutely love the character of Gloria Roscoe and some of the finest scenes in this book happen in her presence.

Eddie and Danny are also realistic characters.  Their combined past contains a traumatic event that neither man has dealt with.  It has destroyed their relationship as friends and lovers.  And neither man knows how to get that back or get past the accident that has twisted their lives and emotions.  It’s powerful stuff and Cat Grant delivers their pain and angst to the reader with authenticity and detailed scenes that will resonate with the reader.  Here is a scene from the beginning, with Tom and Eddie at the diner after the fight:

Tom nudged his plate away and burped. Two spots of bright pink popped high on his cheeks. “That was really good. What can I do to pay for it?”

“It’s on the house.”

His eyes widened. “Seriously? I can’t even sweep up or do dishes or something?”

I pulled a quart of waffle batter out of the old green Frigidaire and swung around to study him. Reminded me of me at his age, all quiet intensity with a streak of sheer panic beneath the surface. Just like any other kid forced to strike out on his own. One thing was clear: he came from money. St. Pat’s wasn’t cheap, and nobody got straight white teeth like his without a few years in braces. From the way he spoke, he was no dummy. What was a kid like him doing living on the street?

Maybe I wasn’t born rich, but I knew what he was feeling. That hollowed-out ache inside, the panic and fear of seeing every new person as a potential threat. Where would I be now if no one had offered me a helping hand? And no, one lousy meal didn’t count.

“Leave your stuff in back,” I said. “There’s a broom and an extra apron in the closet. Start with the pantry. It’s a mess in there.”

“Okay.” He sprang up and headed in back, brushing past Gloria, who’d just come up to grab a stack of paper napkins. Her gaze followed him through the swinging doors.

“You sure that’s a good idea?” That was what she always said. And if the bemused tilt of her head was any clue, she knew she wasn’t about to dissuade me.

“If you want to clean up back there, have at it.”

“You and your charity cases,” she said, coughing out a raspy Marlboro laugh and planting a kiss on my cheek.

I’d caught something else in the kid’s eyes too. Frustration, determination, anger. Whatever mixture of emotions that spurred him to deal that drunk a beat down. He’d acted pretty matter of fact about his scrapes and bruises, but those other marks on his face . . . well, he hadn’t gotten them walking into a door.

That is such a telling scene, revealing so much about all the characters involved from Gloria and her ever present cigarettes to the fear in Tom’s eyes. It remarkable and it hooks the reader in emotionally from the start.  We care for these people and we need to know what will happen next.

Black Dog is the first in the Bannon’s Gym series and I hope that these people will form the core of the series as Tom fights his way to the top of the MMA profession. The author makes the gym and those learning to fight there accessible to the reader.  We learn about MMA and the fight training methodology common to the mixed martial arts.  There is a lot of leeway with a gym as a setting in a series and I can’t wait to see how Grant develops this series.

I will admit that I came close to giving this story 5 stars but several aspects prevented that.  The first being a pov that is constantly switching narrators.  I wish Grant has stuck to just Eddie as the pov. He has a singular voice that rendered an intimacy to the narrative that is lost when the pov switches to another character or third person.  If the story and characters had not been as great as they were, this unevenness in style would have brought the rating down even further.  And the other is an awkward sentence that signals the end of the story.  The scene itself works but it needed a little more, whether it was dialog or action, to feel complete.  Still I felt happy at the end and ready for more.  More of Danny, Eddie, Tom and Gloria, and more of Bannon’s gym.

So yes, I highly recommend this story.  Go grab it up and get reading.  I have added Cat Grant to my must have authors list.  I think after this book you will be doing the same.

Cover art is great, love the black and white design and the tone. Perfect for the story

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 82 pages
print book,  130 pages
Published August 2013 by Cat Grant Books
ISBN13 9780989694919
edition language English
series Bannon’s Gym