TW: Transphobia, extensive discussion of violence against children including(show spoiler)
, human trafficking
A Hispanic MC! Whoop!
A Hispanic MC who isn't a stereotypical vato! Double whoop!
This was my first read from either of these authors and overall, I liked it. The investigation was the main plot, which helped hide the fact that this was yet another instalove story with the MCs. It was well-detailed and didn't try to do that annoying thing of hiding the villain from the authorities while making it super obvious to the readers(show spoiler)
I'm still not entirely convinced this isn't the "hick town cops don't know how to do their jobs" trope, since it took Xav - an ex-FBI agent - to show up and start solving problems. Some things got a little repetitive also as he was having to repeat details to multiple characters at different times. But once everyone knew what was going on, they were quick, efficient, thorough and professional at getting things done.
I really enjoyed the supporting cast. Twyla Fay and Sheriff Winston were great. We need more of them in our government offices. I liked that Xav wasn't given a hard time for being gay because this is the South and that's what's expected. I also appreciated that while Xav and Chance's relationship does move along a little too quickly given all of Chance's issues, I still felt like the issues were addressed realistically and the ending here was more HFN than HEA, which also helped. I didn't get the sense these were two guys who miraculously had all their issues solved by love. They still have issues, but they like each other and that's enough for now. Oh, and the Forrest Gump shoutouts were fun too. You can never go wrong with a Forrest Gump reference. (This from the woman who named two of her cats Forrest and Jenny.) :)
I got thrown by the name brand shoutouts for Xav's jeans - just say designer jeans, am I right? There were some theatrics that might work okay in movies or TV but made me roll my eyes here, like the songs that were playing throughout that just so happened to be thematically appropriate for the scene or the moods of the characters. I wish my radio was that accurate. Hell, I'd even settle for my mood-themed playlists on my iPod to be that accurate! That's not even mentioning a certain thunderstorm that rolls in at just the opportune time. It felt clunky, like I was being told what I should be paying attention to and how I should be feeling about things, rather than just telling a story.
Things kind of fell apart at the climax. There were way too many loose ends left dangling for me to be happy about the "happy" ending.(show spoiler)
I need to know these things and it doesn't take long to summarize this stuff(show spoiler)
As such, it was an unsatisfying ending to the investigation, even while the ending for the relationship for Chance and Xav(show spoiler)
was well done.