Reviewed by Helyce
NOTE: if sexual abuse is a trigger for you, this may not be the story for you. It is not explicit, but shown in the form of photos and flashback memories.
Miki St. John has checked out from the world. Following a horrific car accident he is the only surviving member of the band Sinner’s Gin. Now, he lives his reclusive lifestyle in the remodeled warehouse he owns. He keeps to himself, playing video games, scribbling in his many notebooks, his only companion a dog he calls Dude who showed up one day, and stayed.
When Miki’s past slams into his present in the form of a dead body left in his warehouse garage, his life of utter solitude is over. The dead man, Shing, had sexually abused Miki when he was a child making motive easy for the detective assigned to this case. But even with the obvious, Detective Kane Morgan is not convinced that Miki had anything to do with Shing’s death.
Struggling with the case is nothing compared to Kane’s struggle with his feelings for Miki. As the killer’s antics escalate and Miki’s life continues to be in danger, Kane is determined to find the real killer and keep Miki safe.
Miki’s story involves sexual abuse which began at age 12 and didn’t end until Miki left to join the band. Miki had no one. Found on the street in a diaper at the age of 2 or 3, Miki had always been in the foster system. Though he had tried to tell an adult what was happening and also tried running away, they didn’t believe him. When Miki meets Damien, joins the band and becomes successful, he locks away that part of his life. For Miki, his band mates become his family, and Damien the brother he never had. Miki is devastated by their loss. So he adopts this hermit-like existence, living in a depression filled bubble, with a stray dog he calls Dude.
I really loved Kane and Miki together. They initially meet by chance, and their uneasy attraction becomes more burdened when a man from Miki’s past is killed and dumped in a car in Miki’s warehouse garage. Though the techs find nothing to support that Miki could have possibly killed the man, Miki’s past sexual abuse as a child by the man rears its ugly head opening up things long buried for Miki forcing him to relive those horrific years when all he wants to do is forget. While Kane realizes that he’s attracted to Miki, he reins it in knowing he has a job to do. But as he learns more and sees how Miki is affected he can’t help but let all those protective instincts out. He wants Miki so he’ll do whatever is necessary to keep him safe and find the killer.
I loved how the author gave us a glimpse into Miki’s past with the band, and specifically his relationship with Damien, in the form of song lyrics or conversations which appear at the beginning of each chapter. This went a long way in helping the reader to understand how Damien’s loss truly affected Miki. To go from nothing, to having so much, only to have it literally yanked away from you in a heartbeat.
I adored Kane as well. He comes from a huge Irish family, many of whom are cops as well, and their love for each other just jumped off the page. It was clear that all that love made Kane the man he was and exactly what someone like Miki needed. At one point, when it becomes clear that Miki should not stay in his home, the Morgan’s take him in. To say Miki is uncomfortable is an understatement. All the touching and hugging is a foreign concept to him and he stiffly accepts each one. But you cannot deny the warmth and after everything Miki had been through in life, I was thrilled to see him in the middle of so much unconditional love.
While the romance is front and center, the killer invades in every way he can and it is not clear who or why any of this is happening until the very end. While some of the plot points surrounding the killer seemed to wander off course a bit at times leaving some open ends that I hope will be cleared up in book two, I was thrilled by the way the author chose to involve Miki so strongly in the capture of the killer. I saw it as an exorcism of sorts; a way for Miki to totally release the demons of his past and let them go forever.
I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the aftermath following the killer’s capture. As a reader, we need closure too. Instead the story jumps forward three months and gives us a peek into Kane and Miki’s lives and where they are in their relationship. We meet Edie, who had been the band’s manager and still handled their affairs acting as the middle man so Miki didn’t have to deal with anything. I expect we’ll see more of her in the future. I also hope that we’ll see more of Kane’s family. That strong family dynamic is one I simply love in any book I read.
I’m not for cliffhangers. In fact, I truly abhor them, but I understand an author’s use of them to keep interest in the story and keep you coming back for more. The one used herein is unexpected in every way and had me grinning from ear to ear when I read it. While I absolutely cannot imagine where the author plans to go with this revelation, I am chomping at the bit for book two.