Reviewed by Mandi
Despite the cover or what you may have heard, this is not a motorcycle club book. There is a murder mystery, a sexy and gritty romance and a desert setting that contributes a lot to this story. I have a fondness for Cara McKenna’s voice, and I really enjoyed this book. It’s different from her previous work and surprised me a bit.
Vince Grossier lives in a very small town in the desert of Fortuity. He has lived there his entire life and even though it can sometimes be a shitty town, it’s his town. When word comes that a corporation named Sunnyside is going to build a big casino, the locals are not happy. Yes it will bring jobs, but it will also drive out all of the local businesses and bring in annoying tourists. Construction is in full swing with lots of corporate reps in their fancy business clothes completely out of place in his town. One night one of his long-time friends calls and drunkenly talks about some bones he saw out on the construction site. These bones really scared his friend and he asks to meet. But before he can, he dies in a drunk driving accident. Vince knows his friend was drunk, but would never drive drunk and this bones story makes Vince very suspicious. He alerts the police and tells his friends he fears suspicious play may have been involved in his friend’s death, but no one is convinced.
Enter our heroine, Kim. She is a photographer in town to take pictures for casino brochures and to convince people the town is beautiful. Being in the desert, it really, truly is a magnificent place and she has plenty of scenery to film. She meets Vince in the local bar one night and he is immediately intrigued by this woman. She is very put together and proper – nothing like one of the locals. He tries his charm on her, but his charm is let’s say…menancing. What intrigues him more is that Kim is a cool cookie. She doesn’t go after his lusty words or crude flirtation.
“You’re coming off kinda bipolar, Vince. I can’t tell if you’re trying to get in my pants or run me out of town on a rail.”
“Me neither, but it’s turning me on. How about you?”
Unknown to Vince, Kim is freaking out on the inside. Having just broke up with her boyfriend, she is kind of ready for a wild fling, and Vince is all wild and all man.
When a man came built like Vince Grossier, it told you one of two things; Either his job was backbreaking, or he made violent love to his weight bench every morning.
There are four main things I want to talk about. First, the mystery, admittedly the weakest part of the story for me. It’s a murder mystery of sorts, and while the events that lead to the truth worked okay for me, Vince’s ill and erratic mother can see visions of the future, and alerts Vince and his friends that Kim will eventually be involved in the investigation. I call this unnecessary woo-woo. I don’t like woo-woo in my otherwise non-paranormal stories. Her woo-woo is accurate too, having had many visions in the past come true.
Second, the romance. Hot damn this romance is very McKenna-esque. It’s gritty, it’s raw, and surprisingly, she makes us wait a darn long time for the actual sex to happen. It’s okay though because the sexual tension is done so well. Vince is so masculine and rough..not smooth. He doesn’t have charm or grace and he doesn’t care or apologize for it. But somehow he fits pretty well with Kim. She is a tough cookie, very smart, good head on her shoulders, and weak for the leather wearing, bike-riding huge man. And there is this:
He didn’t rush her. Didn’t force her or even urge her, didn’t do a thing aside from stand there, tense with anticipation. She rewarded that with a lap across that smooth, sensitive skin, and was repaid by a harsh suck of breath above her. Beg me, she wanted to say. She wanted to hear proof of how bad he wanted her, like those needy whispers in the hotel room, even as his body ha owned hers.
Another lap, another, but she held back taking him for real. Beg me.
In that deep voice, came the softest, “C’mon.”
Third the setting. I loved that this book is set in the desert among the red sand. It makes everything that more dirty but beautiful. The blazing hot sun during the day. The cold temperatures at night. The town is poor and it’s a hard life to live there. Being in jail or out on parole is a normal thing. The hatred for the casino being built and the loyalty the locals feel for their businesses and their people resonates well.
And finally, my favorite part – the characters. I really like Vince and Kim, but this entire cast of characters made me smile. We have what Vince calls his Desert Dogs. A group of friends that became close when they were young, but some moved out of Fortuity – and have now found their way back. Besides Vince, we have Miah, who works on his family’s ranch. We don’t know a ton about him, but he is a hard worker and a good friend who used to date and is still in love with the local bartender Raina. Oh Raina, I liked her. Hard ass woman and takes no shit from anyone. She intrigues me so much and her book is next. If you look on Goodreads you can see who her hero is going to be and I’m very excited. Vince’s brother Casey comes roaring back to town and his mouth made me laugh so hard. He is such a crazy, loud-mouth dude. I love him.
And finally Duncan Welch. Not a Desert Dog, but an uppity lawyer with Sunnyside. He plays a big role in this book. He is the kind of character that you initially think umm okay, he is going to be the token creeper, loser, annoying dude. That he is too prissy and rich to belong anywhere near Fortuity But….just wait.
“Ready?” Idling, Vince tossed Welch the extra helmet.
“Close enough,” the man said. He eyed Casey’s seat with misgiving.
“Hop on, motherfucker. I don’t have cooties.”
“That’s reassuring,” Welch said as he adjusted the helmet’s strap. He managed to mount up with surprising dignity, likely down to his long legs as much as anything.
“Feel free to get friendly,” Casey said.
The characters in this book excite me for this series. They are big, sexy, loud, opinionated and kind of crazy. You never know what they are going to do or say. Can’t wait for book two.