by Layla Reyne
Publisher: Layla Reyne
Publication Date: August 16, 2021
Source: Valentine PR
I received an advance review copy of this book from Valentine PR. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
What we were…
Sean found love once, with his college roommate, Trevor, and Trevor’s best friend, Charlotte.
The missing piece, Sean made it possible for Trevor and Charlotte to find love too.
But then Sean left and took the love with him.
What we are…
Now an FBI agent, Sean is back in town, ten years later, to investigate a murder.
A case that pits him against his ex-lovers—Charlotte, a local detective, and Trevor, a literature professor sucked into the Shakespearean mystery.
Everyone guards their hearts, but before long, desire sparks anew the feelings that burned hot a decade ago. That still burn true.
What we may be…
Love is within their grasp again, but as the killer escalates, it’s more than just their hearts and futures on the line.
Sean, Charlotte, and Trevor will need to work together to solve the case.
If they can’t, lives will be lost and pieces of their love gone for good.
Content notes: View Spoiler »Graphic descriptions of murder victims, death of a parent in car accident, death of two police officers in the line of duty (MC’s parent and brother), MC’s parents died in a plane crash, MC’s father figure has terminal cancer, attempted date rape (in the past), drug overdose (in the past), cheating (of a secondary character on the MC, in the past), alcohol « Hide Spoiler
I’ve read and loved several of Layla Reyne’s previous m/m suspense romances, so I was very interested when I saw she was writing a poly one. Specifically, a poly second chance romance! While this has some callbacks to her earlier series, it can be read completely as a standalone.
“A decade we’ve been here, never quite moving on, never quite making it work, neither one of us, and when we’re finally ready for a fresh start, here you are. The past thrown in our faces. Again.”
From the moment Sean literally ran into Charlie in her brother’s dorm room, he, Charlie and her childhood best friend Trevor were friends. As college progressed, their relationship did, too, until Sean decided to propose to the both of them on the eve of his and Charlie’s graduation from the police academy. And then he disappeared from their lives. Ten years later, a tragedy brought him back into their lives for one night of final goodbyes… until another shocking tragedy brought him back to town. When it becomes clear that the killer knows Charlie and Trevor – and may even be targeting them – will their chance at a new relationship end before it even starts?
One of the things I’ve always admired about authors who write good poly romances is the delicate balancing act. There’s not just two people and one connection between them, but the throuple as a whole plus their interconnecting relationships. Managing that plus a suspense plot is quite a feat, but I think the author pulled it off well here.
If I had to pick a favorite out of the group, it would be Charlie. She’s a tough police officer who’s grieving the death of her twin brother and father from a drug bust gone wrong, and blames herself. After all of this, she wants to get out of her hometown of Hanover, but also doesn’t want to abandon her younger sister. Trevor couldn’t be completely different from her. He’s a born romantic, a literature professor at Hanover university and Charlie’s childhood best friend. They met Sean in collage at Hanover University and were friends, and then later romantic partners. Trevor and Charlie tried to have a separate romantic relationship after Sean left, but it didn’t work without him and almost cost them their friendship. Since then, Trevor’s married and divorced (his wife cheated on him), but the one thing they’ve always had to sustain them is Charlie’s family and their friendship. And that’s what Sean hasn’t had. An orphan, his adopted father is in precarious health, and he’s done everything he can to distance himself from Hanover, even taking a position with the FBI overseas. But like Charlie and Trevor, he’s never gotten over them, either. Their chemistry is absolutely explosive, and it was obvious from their interactions, as a whole and individually, that they loved each other. The only thing left to resolve is why Sean left and stayed away – oh, and the whole serial killer thing.
“But how could she ask him to stay when she and Trevor were leaving? How could she ask either of them to go back when they were supposed to be moving forward?”
Like most second chance romances, Sean had a valid reason for leaving, and then was convinced to stay away for Charlie’s sake. What exactly that secret reason is took a while to be revealed, and it was quite gut-wrenching, so I found his actions reasonable. I didn’t quite understand why Charlie and Trevor never attempted to reach out to him, however. The suspense part was interesting and well-paced with lots of red herrings, but I was surprised at the end by the villain. It wasn’t someone who was on my suspect radar, and I’m not sure if that’s on me or the author for not providing enough hints. Either way, it was very enjoyable.
Overall, this was another engaging romantic suspense novel from this author. There’s hints as to which character will be getting their book (books?) next, and I will definitely be looking forward to it!