Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Kiss me Caesar. I‘ve waited all day for you.”
Caesar Romano and his sexy PI boyfriend, Dan Albright, have settled into somewhat domestic bliss as Caesar now spends most of his time with Dan at his Staten Island home and commutes to work aka civilization. While Caesar is happiest at Dan’s side there is still a hint of insecurity in their relationship. A home invasion opens the door to possibilities that Dan is being revisited by his past, something Caesar is still in the dark about. As Caesar muses over Dan’s continued silence into his past, he is ambushed by his business partner and best friend, Poppy, into appearing on tv to promote their store. He also learns Poppy withheld the fact they are catering his ex-boyfriend’s current lover’s art exhibition. YIKES! As if that wasn’t bad enough, his cousin Joey, who is also Poppy’s boyfriend, wants him to help plan the most elaborate and surprise worthy proposal ever for Poppy. WHEW! As Caesar tries to keep up with everything going on, he also finds himself in possession of a stinky stalker who is somehow connected to Dan’s newest job. When push comes to shove, though, Caesar grabs tight and goes on the ride of his life.
It’s been five years since the second book, Trust Me If You Dare, released though very little time has passed in the storyline. There is very little recap of the previous two books; Gregg choosing to pick up where she left off. So, if you are a little fuzzy on the last two books, do yourself a favor and schedule a quick re read or find yourself a well written review to refresh your memory.
Told from Caesar’s rambling and amusingly testy point of view, we watch as he is unintentionally tossed into a series of high octane situations that hilariously develops and resolve over a two-day period. Caesar Romano’s life plays out like a slapstick comedy of errors with a dynamic and eccentric cast of characters who all add to the laughter and appeal of the story. Manic pacing, witty dialogue, exaggeration galore, and a well plotted multidirectional mystery romance seems to go in fifty different directions, but Gregg has a method to her madness and brings everything together with the skill of an expert genealogist.
Caesar has a strong voice and presence in the book. Witty and self-deprecating, he is a slightly uptight hipster who loves his job, boyfriend, bestie, and family despite their unintentional ability to drag him into trouble. All his relationships carry a wee bit of drama and outrageousness that only adds to his overall appeal. Especially when you match it to his almost fanatical need for control and order.
His romance fits right into the general zaniness of the story. Caesar and Dan are well matched in and out of bed. Opposites in all the best ways, they attract like magnets. Dan grounds Caesar in all the best ways when he gets a little to wound up while Caesar keeps Dan on his toes and stops his occasional slides into the darkness. They are adorable with their sexy flirty banter that confirms the serious chemistry brewing and bubbling between them.
“We both needed that. It took the edge off.”
“You are ever on the edge.”
“Only with you.”
The mystery is somewhat obscure, revealing slowly through story. Scores of potential villains riddle the landscape and Gregg keeps us well entertained as we try to follow the clues. Caesar’s amateur sleuthing is award winning and leaves you giggling as he inadvertently keeps stumbling into the fray. Seeing Poppy, the Romano’s, and of course, Jean-Luc again always guarantees a good time will be had by all. We finally get some solid background on Dan’s creepy ex and I love Dan goes out of his way to reassure Caesar that he and their relationship matter to him.
“In case you’re late to the party, Romano, I’m not into women. I’m into you.”
A couple of items did bother me, though. One being the continued manipulation of Caesar by those he loves. Dan and Poppy are masters at it and while Caesar calls them on it multiple times, Dan merely flashes his sexy dimples while Poppy says, “I’m sorry,” for the umpteenth time. I also wish we could get some of the story from Dan’s point of view. I’m ready for Dan to fully expose his past or, at least give an explanation as to why he won’t. He seems determined to keep silent on certain things that really make no sense. Like his new car. Why not tell Caesar where it came from?
Regardless of a few qualms, With This Bling is a fun sexy romance with a strong mystery base. Fans of the series will love the direction Gregg is going with Caesar and Dan and I can only hope we won’t have to wait another five years for the next installment.