Reviewed by Helyce
Favorite quote: I barely know him, and it’s…so fucking huge…this thing. Him. Me. Everything.
Rhys Ford has fast become a favorite author of mine in the m/m genre. Her unique brand of humor mixed in with her slightly tortured heroes with a pinch of suspense are the perfect combination for a successful story in my book. I have to admit, though, that the teaser she left us with in book 2, Whiskey and Wry, gave me pause. At the heart of this series is the Morgan clan; a large Irish family headed by Donal and Brigid Morgan. They have eight children, most of them boys. Kane was featured in book 1, Sinner’s Gin, and through the first two books, as we got to know everyone, we met Quinn who is also gay. So, when book two ended with a teaser about Connor, I had to ask myself, “what are the odds of one family having 3 gay sons?”
Well, in Ms. Ford’s world it happens…and it’s beautiful!
We first meet Forest as a teen. He’s been beaten by his latest John and thrown into a dumpster. He doesn’t have the strength to pull himself back out and the longer he tries, the weaker he gets. Frank Marshall, who owns the building there finds him. Frank realizes that Forest is skittish, and probably won’t accept his help, so he throws in a crate so Forest can climb out. He also leaves some cold pizza on the table outside his RV for the kid. It was the beginning of a relationship that would lead to Frank adopting Forest and raising him the best way he knew how. It was difficult, though, especially with Forest’s mother out there on the street, still trying to woo him back to her.
“She’s going to kill you, kiddo, like one of those animals who eat their own young,” the man said, holding Forest’s hair back from his face as he did his best to toss out the water he’d just gotten down. “Maybe not this time but maybe the next. I’m always going to be here for you, kid, but I don’t want the next time I hold you, it’s to lie you down into a box. That’ll kill me, dude, and you’ve got so much fucking talent in those hands of yours, it’ll be a shame to waste it on a whore-even if it’s the whore who gave birth to you.”
We jump several years into the future then, with Connor Morgan and his SWAT team responding to a tip about a meth shipment out of an old RV behind a coffee shop. What they find is a dead Frank Marshall and Connor meets Forest for the first time when he has to hold him back to keep him safe. From that very moment, that very first touch, Forest gets under Connor’s skin and he begins to question everything he thought he knew about himself and what he wanted for his life. He finds himself going out of his way to get his coffee at Forest’s place because he just needs to be near him. Then, when a series of events makes it clear that Forest is also a target, Connor’s protective instincts take control and he can’t help but take care of him.
With every installment I fall more in love with the characters in here. Connor is a big, burly, Irish cop but when it comes to Forest, we see his heart open wide and fill with love and expectation. I loved that the first person he went to when he was confused and worried was his father, Donal. Their conversation is beautiful and full of love and acceptance and gives Connor the courage to approach Forest and tell him exactly how he feels. He also talks to his brother, Quinn, and this was especially nice because Quinn has been somewhat of an enigma…there but in the background and I enjoyed getting to know him a bit here.
“Second, if you’re going to sit here and tell me you don’t know what you want, then I call bullshit, because you either want him or you don’t want him.”
“He’s not like a piece of cake, Q. I can’t just take a taste and say no thank you. Not for me. Don’t like this flavor.”
“He’s exactly like a piece of cake,” Quinn retorted. “the question is, does it really fucking matter if it’s a flavor you’re used to or something you really badly want to try? The only person in this that’s arguing about who and why is you. It’s not going to be easy if you love him. People are assholes, Con. Some people hate when the world doesn’t look like they want it to, and they hurt other people.”
The suspense around who is trying to kill Forest, while a big part of the story, felt subtle to me and I liked how it was there, but didn’t overpower the building relationship between Forest and Connor. There are several attempts on Forest’s life and others are caught in the crossfire but it all fits in perfectly. The inclusion of all the Morgans and our previous couples is a delight. Brigid is a force of nature and she takes Forest into her heart like she’d been saving a place for him there all along. Forest drowns in her affections, finally seeing what a true mother/son relationship can be.
As Forest is a talented drummer, I was thrilled (but not surprised) when the story took a turn and brought him together with Miki and Damien. I love where this is going and really look forward to seeing the band come to life again in future books. As is her style, Ms. Ford leaves us with just enough to tease as she gives us a taste of Quinn and Rafe who I’m guessing are up next.
Fast paced, great emotional content, humor and just enough suspense makes this a winner for me!