Blurb: John Turner has been living a lie most of his life. Growing up in the rural Georgia town of Magnolia Ridge, he’s only ever let one person truly know him: his best friend, Chloe. To the rest of the world, they’re the perfect couple, but just between them, she’s helping John hide in plain sight.
Matt Kinsley, a cop from San Francisco, moves to town looking for a slower pace and to reconnect with his Southern roots. Starting over in Magnolia Ridge means taking a step into the closet, but Matt finds that with John for company, he doesn’t mind so much.
As the two start to explore a possible relationship, a horrific murder rips the town apart but brings John and Matt together in ways neither could’ve imagined. Matt must decide where his loyalties lie while John resists the urge to run again. Together, they have to discover who the real devil is before another life is destroyed.
Review by Dee
Interesting story. John is a closeted gay man who lives in in rural Georgia. He’s close to his family but scared of coming out to them, especially to his religious mum. His best friend is Chloe who pretends to be his long-term girlfriend.
The story starts slowly, but picks up speed and steam when John meets Matt as an out of state hookup. Imagine John’s dilemma when he finds out that Matt is the newest addition to the local police force!
The 2 men steal moments to be together whenever they can, until a devastating crime forces them apart. The crime was surprising, and the events surrounding it were interesting. I didn’t see it coming!
It took me a bit to get into the story, mostly because at the start, John goes to great lengths to establish Chloe as his girlfriend/soon-to-be fiancée. As the story progresses, it’s easy to see why John is closeted; however he begins to hope for an out if he continues to develop his relationship with Matt.
The characters weres well developed within a unique storyline. I hope there will be a story about/with Santiago ☺
3.75/4 stars out of 5
Review by Mary
I am in two minds about this book. I was eager to read it because I’ve like both authors work and was intrigued to see what would come of the partnership. The start is a classic of an hookup who ends up meeting in regular life. The problem is that John is deep in the closet. Matt was a Puzzle. I couldn’t wrap my head around why someone out and proud would choose to move to rural Georgia effectively putting himself back in the closest. This was explained about a third of the way into the story but it just didn’t feel authentic. It was not until later into the story that I got more of a sense where Mac was coming from. The romance is just a series of hookups under the guise of a new friendship aided and abetted by Chloe. I was starting to wondering were the story would go with the romance side.
The introduction of the murder mystery came out of left field and was quite dramatic plot twist. I was a little startled, there was no way I saw it coming but there wasn’t enough time left in the book for it to develop into anything I could sink into. The conclusion to the murder felt like it was a quick wrap up as well.
The story seems to be straddling between being a romance and a murder mystery but never quite settling into either genre. I liked both sides but felt dissatisfied with the whole book. Good writing though, there is a real atmosphere of small town Georgia, the heat and scenery. I definitely can’t fault with the quality of the book, it just didn’t work for me this time.
3 of stars out of 5