Review: Craft Brew – Layla Reyne

Review: Craft Brew – Layla ReyneCraft Brew
by Layla Reyne
Series: Trouble Brewing #2
Also in this series: Imperial Stout, Noble Hops
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: October 8, 2018
Genres: Romance
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Assistant US attorney Dominic Price is staring down the barrel of his father’s debts. The bull’s-eye on his back makes him a threat to everyone he cares about, so when his lover wants to go public with their relationship, he bolts. Not because he isn’t in love—he can’t stomach the thought of putting Cam in danger.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne is determined to figure out what trouble Nic is running from, but devastating news from home brings him back to Boston and to the cold case that has haunted his family for two decades. Shoving aside his pride, he calls Nic for help.

Together they search for answers, navigating the minefield of Cam’s past. But when they get too close to the truth, Cam must use every skill in his arsenal to save the man he loves…before it’s too late.

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I’ve really fallen in love recently with the m/m suspense genre.  I loved Ms. Reyne’s Irish and Whiskey series, and I was excited to read the first book in the spin-off series, Imperial Stout.  It definitely delivered, and, I have to say, I loved this one even more!  As a note, this book can’t be read as a standalone, but if you haven’t already, I highly recommend starting with the original series.

When we last left Nic and Cam, they’d started settling into a tentative relationship, albeit one that’s secret from their friends and family.  So it’s a surprise to Cam – and a setback to that relationship – when Nic leaves for San Diego for five weeks.  When he returns, another unexpected turn of events has Nic questioning whether Cam would be safer away from the troubles that are surrounding his family.  They know they need to work things out, but a family emergency sends Cam running back to his hometown of Boston, and he’s given what he fears is a deathbed request – finally get to the bottom of his sister’s decades-old disappearance.  Dividing his time between the hospital and investigating a cold case, Cam is worn-down and desperately missing Nic, but when they discover the case may not be so cold after all, how much will Nic and Cam have to sacrifice to get that closure?

“You rescue lost people for a living. Is it any wonder you found me?”

The relationship between Nic and Cam is just indescribably wonderful.  This isn’t insta-lust or puppy love or anything that simple, as they’re both older and understand that relationships require work to make them strong.  With that relationship, though, they’re stronger together, and seeing Cam lean on Nic for help, and the lengths Nic went to to help prop him up, was heart-meltingly adorable.  For Nic, especially, watching Cam’s family made for incredible character growth for a man who’s used to going it alone.  One of the things I love most about this book is that their relationship isn’t just lust – though there’s plenty of that, as well – but that you can really feel the affection and love between them.

The mystery is delightfully twisty, involving the cold case, a new kidnapping, and ties to a previous case Nic and Cam worked.  The pacing is excellent, and the romance and suspense pieces were well-balanced.  I honestly could not put this book down once I started it!  Cam’s family plays a pretty large part in this one, from the festering guilt over his sister’s death to the fact that Cam isn’t out as bi to his family.  If there’s a theme to the story, it’s about family – the family you’re born in and the family you make for yourself – things both Cam and Nic need to worth through in order to progress in their relationship.

“What happened to building something?” he whispered hoarsely.
Nic’s determination faltered and he twisted away, his back to Cam as he braced his heels on the bed rail. “I’ve never been good at construction. I’m better at demo.”
“That’s bullshit too,” Cam said, anger resurging, but redirected for Nic, not at him. “Look at Gravity, at your USAO teams, at your work with the Bureau.”
“It’s too good, Boston. You, us, most of all. And the last time I had it this good…” Glancing sideways, Nic’s eyes were brimming with remembered pain. “I made a mess of things and lost it all. I can’t let that happen again.  I can’t lose you and everything I’ve already built here.”

So, with things seemingly wrapped up with Cam, what we’re left with at the end of the book is a solid relationship, and the knowledge that Nic is prepared for his family’s past to come back and bite him.  We find out a little more in this book about his past tragedy, and there’s lots of plot bits that I’m sure will be leading to more revelations in the next book.  I’m very much looking forward to the next one!

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