Really, this would've been 4 stars easily, but the "fairy tale" metaphor got a little heavy-handed after the fourth or fifth time it was brought up and I lost track after that. The book is titled "Holding Out For a Fairy Tale". At that point, I think the reader knows what the main conflict of the couple is going to be. You don't have to keep mentioning it in the book over and over and over. Once or twice, sure, but anything more than that isn't necessary.
That complaint aside, I really enjoyed this book. I admit, I should've skimmed the first book in this series before starting this one, as I remembered it a lot less than I thought I did. I vaguely remembered Special Agent Elliot Belkamp from A Casual Weekend Thing, but I didn't remember Ray Delgado at all. Not too big of a deal, as the author gave enough information that I could follow along, and it didn't effect this story beyond the background of how these two met. If you picked up this book without reading the first one, you wouldn't be lost.
There was a lot of examination on Ray's hangups with being bisexual and attracted to men. He was given a lot of depth here and basically boils down to the "hardass who's a big cuddly teddy bear underneath" and I do love that trope. I wish we'd have gotten as much depth into Elliot's background. There is some background there, but it become apparent quickly that, even though it switches POV's from chapter to chapter, this is really Ray's book. He's a complex character from a complex family, and each layer that was peeled back slowly uncovers his vulnerabilities and emotional hangups. Elliot isn't as complex, and so really doesn't need as much background, but I still felt as if I didn't quite know him or understand him as well as I did Ray.
The story itself is straightforward, once you get past the extremely messed up family dynamics. Ray is a homicide detective in his hometown, San Diego, where his extended family run part of the drug trade. As you can imagine, he's not a popular guy in his family and has arrested many of them in the past. His cousin Alejandro, a drug kingpin, comes to him with news his sister Sophie is missing, along with millions of cartel money. From there, it's just tracking down who was involved and how and why they were involved. Ray runs into Elliot when he goes to the FBI office to check on their investigation into his cousin's disappearance. Elliot and Ray had hooked up for awhile in Montana, but called it quits when it was clear they wanted different things from a relationship and that Ray wasn't comfortable with being bisexual. Their getting back together here happens gradually and naturally, and is the basis from which we learn more about Ray's background and why he is the way he is.
The sex scenes weren't dragged out for pages and pages and I felt there were just enough of them so the book didn't stall out halfway through. There was one sex scene in the car I had to roll my eyes at, especially once it was revealed they were only a mile and a half away from Elliot's home. Y'all couldn't wait five minutes? Really? There were a few typos here and there but nothing that threw me out of the story. There was also a nice cameo at the end for Christopher and Doug, and the last chapter had all the warm fuzzies you could hope for.
One more little niggle, and this did not reflect on my rating: While this doesn't reach the levels of geography fail as the last book I read that was based in San Diego, there was still some. For instance, Rancho Bernardo is not two hours from San Diego, more like a half-hour to 45 minutes, an hour if traffic really sucks. La Jolla is not the northern most part of San Diego County, just of San Diego; it's not even the halfway point for the county. I really don't expect people who don't live here to get the regionalisms right, but those did kind of throw me when they'd come up.