Review: Noble Hops – Layla Reyne

Review: Noble Hops – Layla ReyneNoble Hops
by Layla Reyne
Series: Trouble Brewing #3
Also in this series: Imperial Stout, Craft Brew
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: February 11, 2019
Genres: Romance
Pages: 320
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 Star

Everything Dominic Price has worked hard to uphold is about to come crashing down on everything he holds dear.

So much for the quiet life. Just as assistant US attorney and brewery owner Dominic Price is settling into a comfy new chapter with his partner, FBI agent Cameron Byrne, the sudden death of Nic’s father puts their happily-ever-after in jeopardy. Nic immediately suspects foul play, his prime suspect a notorious gangster his father was indebted to—only now the loan shark is out for blood.

Cam has been longing for Nic to finally let him in on this very personal case. But when Nic’s belief that he’s the sole Price heir is upended, the line between personal and professional starts to blur, leaving Cam unsure of where he stands.

Nic is depending on Cam’s kidnap and rescue expertise to save his recently discovered family member before it’s too late. But with a dangerous threat closing in, the ghosts from Nic’s past cast long shadows. Any relationship could crack under the pressure, but for Nic, finding his family might mean losing the love of his life.

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I’ve mentioned – several times now – how much I enjoyed Ms. Reyne’s first series, Irish & Whiskey, and how I though her spin-off Trouble Brewing series could turn out to be even better.  With the series now complete, I can confidently say that it is better.  One note for new readers – this is not a standalone!

It’s hard to do a summary of this book without referring to the events of the previous two – or giving any spoilers! The first book in the series set up Cam and Nik’s relationship, the second dealt with Cam’s demons from the past, so it makes sense that the third book would finally explore Nik’s past (his “mess” and tangle of regrets) and wrap up the Vaughn storyline once and for all.  Who is the mysterious GS that Nik has tattooed on his back, and will finally revealing all of his secrets to Cam make their relationship stronger or tear them apart?

“You are a good boyfriend,” he whispered against his lips. “I wouldn’t want to go through this with anyone else, or alone.” That’s what the old Nic would have wanted, but the one holding Cameron Byrne’s hand, the one who knew he had someone to call, someone to tell his story to, someone to go home to after a no good horrible day, wanted this man with him, always.
Cam’s dark, heated eyes stared back at him. “I’m with you, baby.”

One of my favorite parts of romance novels is how, ideally, the relationship between the main characters makes them stronger, better versions of themselves than they are apart.  Ms. Reyne does this beautifully, and honestly, while the suspense plot is excellent as always, it’s the nuances of Cam and Nik’s relationship that keep me coming back for more.  With Nik dealing with the death of his father and his grieving process – or lack of it – Cam is an amazing rock and knows exactly when to push and when to let Nik be.  My favorite part was, when Nik is trying to figure out, after being raised as an only child, how to deal with his new-found family, he emulates how Cam interacts with his family.  It was a delightfully sweet moment and just one more example of how well they complement each other.  They’re very much an established couple by this point in the series, and while there are tests to their relationship – mostly due to Nik’s need to protect Cam, and, well, everyone – they’re dealt with quickly.

“But they weren’t safe. Not since he’d gone after Vaughn, hastening the inevitable confrontation. He hadn’t thought there was anyone but trained professionals in the line of fire, and hell, he’d tried to keep them out of it for over a year.”

The suspense plot focuses more on Nic’s work as the AUSA this time, though we do get to see Cam in action, as well.  It was a nice change from previous books, and it was wonderful to watch him build the case to take down Vaughn one piece at a time.  The department moles are also ferreted out and exposed – no surprises there, though I found the reveal immensely satisfying due to how awful one of them was.  While I expected the plot to be pretty predictable – there’s been a lot of breadcrumbs laid down in previous books – there were actually a few twists and turns that were pleasantly surprising.  Living in the SF Bay Area, I was also pleased to see some references to southern Silicon Valley (shoutout to Morgan Hill!).

I’m hoping my suspicions are true and that the hints of a new couple in this book materialize into a new series.  While I’ll miss Cam and Nic, I’m more excited than ever for wherever Ms. Reyne goes next!

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