by Kate McMurray
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: June 18, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Senate candidate Parker Livingston chose his political dreams over a future with the man he loved. He lives with constant regret about not having Jackson Kane in his life. Or his bed. And when a strange woman is found murdered in Parker’s apartment, Jackson is the only person Parker trusts to help clear his name.
Jackson never forgave Parker for the way their relationship ended. He moved on, built a name for himself as a criminal defense attorney and swore he’d never let heartbreak back in. But when Parker shows up on his doorstep, wild-eyed and handsome and desperate for his help, Jackson can’t say no. Parker is a lot of things, but he’s no murderer.
Forced back together, searching for answers, their attraction returns with a vengeance. Any distraction—personal or professional—could be deadly. The murderer is still at large, and he’s made it clear one of them is his next victim.
Oh, I am conflicted over this book. This is such a sweet second-chances romance featuring two men who are both set on doing the right thing – if only they didn’t have completely opposite ideas of what that right thing was. While the relationship was great, there were some other parts that didn’t sit well with me. It’s told from the main couple’s alternating third-person POV, and is the first in a new series, though it works well as a standalone.
Jackson is a high-powered defense lawyer in NYC. Though he previously worked with criminal law, he now handles white-collar cases. So he’s even more surprised when Parker, his college sweetheart and first love, and a state politician now campaigning for the US Senate, shows up at his office, asking him for help when a murdered woman is discovered in his apartment. Seeing Park again is a shock, though he doesn’t refuse to take the case immediately – initially he tells himself he’s thinking of taking the case more out of a sense of curiosity for what actually happened than because of any remaining feelings for him.
“Funny story,” said Jackson. “Parker Livingston is gay. Guess how I know that.”
Park is running for US senator – as a Republican. His campaign platform is described as the GOP “fifteen years ago—minus the homophobia and racism and sexism[.]” He’s completely closeted, of course, and he’s torn between trying to rekindle things with Jack (who he never quite got over) and being able to make a real change as a national lawmaker. This scandal might put an end to his political career for good, even if he’s proven innocent, and an affair with his lawyer would be almost as bad. Jack is out and proud – he hosts parties for LGBT lawyers, for goodness sake – and he has no wish to be Park’s dirty secret, so he knows that they have no chance. The more time they spend together, however, the harder it is to remember their reasons for staying apart.
They’d always grounded each other, whether it was Jackson keeping Park from flying too high into fancy or Park helping Jackson hang on to his sanity when his job threatened to take it away.
I absolutely loved Jack and Park’s relationship. It was by turns sweet and angsty, and I really felt the chemistry between them. They were, basically, each other’s first loves, until Park ended their relationship, and the abrupt breakup hurt them both badly. It’s been too long for them to still be in love with each other, but there’s something still there, enough that Jack is reluctant to take the case because he fears he can’t be objective. I loved how they had this eight-year relationship – basically from college to settling into their adult lives – that they basically grew into men together, and that any of their relationships since have been compared to that first one. I think their history was worked in well, and it really added a lot of depth to their relationship in the book.
“You lie every goddamn day. You leave your apartment and you go to work and you…you pretend that this essential part of who you are just doesn’t exist. You lie when you let people believe you’re just a bachelor who hasn’t found the right woman yet. And I find myself wondering what else you lied about or if you can even sort out the truth from the lies anymore.”
There were two main things that I didn’t like. First off, I had a hard time suspending disbelief over the fact that, despite an eight year relationship with Jack, Park managed to keep the fact he was gay completely out of the public eye through two political campaigns. In today’s digital age, I just couldn’t believe that no one would’ve dug up dirt from one of their college classmates or anything like that. The second is that Park is a Republican. While part of his platform is specifically not campaigning on social issues, he’s done this more by keeping mum on those issues and not rocking the boat, even refusing to speak for a group for gay Republicans out of fear. And, I get it, I know that there are good people who are Republicans, but with all that’s going on with the Supreme Court case basically legalizing discrimination, families being ripped apart and innocent children being used as political bargaining chips, it left a sour taste in my mouth. I’m not going to hold this against the book – I’m sure the author had the best intentions while writing this – but it did dim my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, despite those issues, I enjoyed reading the book, and I’ll be looking for the next book in the series. If you like angsty second-chance romances with a side of political whodunnit, you’ll like this book!