Sometimes a guy needs a break. Carroll Weir got one–but it wasn’t what he expected.
All he dreams of is escaping dreary, damp Skagit, WA, for a warmer climate. Instead, Federal Investigator Carroll Weir is assigned to a cross-agency case involving geoduck smugglers and a very dead Fish and Wildlife Detective.
Sterling Bailey, the regular bartender at the Loft, likes to think of his customers and employees as family since he doesn’t have one of his own. Exhausted and tense, Carroll Weir wanders in one night and one thing leads to another. All in a night’s work, right?
Who murdered Fish and Wildlife Detective Peter Krystad? Does the killer have Weir in his sights? Things begin to heat up between them but Sterling and Weir will have to move past their personal history in order to change the course of their future.
The spark burning between them is hot enough to scald, unless they’re careful somebody’s going to get burned.
Though part of the Accidental Roots Series this book can be read as a standalone.
*HEA No cliffhanger
*Intended for a mature audience, 18+
How the hell do you end up from blowing an FBI-Agent in the backroom of a bar…
…to being his babysitter and then lover within a few weeks???
And, what is more, when you did not even deign him a second glance so far, much less like him particularly? Well, it happens faster than you think…
Sterling Bailey, outwardly gruff, but at the bottom of his heart caring bartender at The Loft in Skagit, WA, has his own problems, even without help from the outside to make it worse.
Turned adrift by his own parents at a very young age due to his sexual orientation and being forced to do everything to survive on the streets, he had landed on his feet again. But this betrayal of confidence comes at a price. Trusting someone is not easy for him and why doing the whole commitment thing when you can just do hookups with no strings attached?
When a blowjob at his bar leads to another one -which is dead against his own life philosophy- and he suddenly seems to be the only person under the sun who is able to take care of said hookup when he is severely injured, his resolve gets rattled with each day he spends with the man and slow but steady he develops feelings he never wanted to feel.
FBI-Agent Carroll Weir -yes, there are a million jokes about his name out there and believe me, he has heard them all- is so done with this rainy dump called Skagit and cannot wait to get the hell out of dodge after the case he worked on for months is mostly wrapped up. His bags are packed, his flight to SoCal almost booked and he already sees himself on a surfboard again and basking in the sun.
A phone call from his boss shatters his daydream and he never would have thought that the murder of a Fish and Wildlife Detective and the possible poaching of a cock-shaped clam would fall under his duties, but so much for his luck. Oh, Weir likes cock, but the real deal, not such nightmare-inducing, the running-him-into-the-ground thing that ends up in a case without any lead.
A hookup at a bar seems to be just the right cure, but what was supposed to be a stress relief makes for an experience he cannot get out of his head, or rather he cannot get the guy out of his head. Sterling Bailey with his goth appearance and his judgmental behavior is a guy who is so not on his bucket list, but a hell of a surprise when it comes down to it.
“His first impression that Sterling judged and found the rest of the world lacking had been replaced by the understanding that Sterling held his true self-aloof out of self-preservation. Sterling was most comfortable feeling separate from the crowd; it had become his safe place.”
But Weir does not do relationships. He has built up a protective barrier around his heart due to his own past so he would not get hurt again. A tragedy in form of the disappearance of his sister ripped his family apart when he was a kid and instead of holding onto the child who was still there, both parents blamed him and abandoned him one way or the other, which left Weir with a feeling of never being good enough.
When the case or rather the murderer comes too close for comfort to Weir and nearly costs him his life, both men are forced to spend more time together than they prefer, and they discover gradually that they are more alike than they think.
“Leaving Skagit, Sterling hoped, had been a self-protective measure. If Weir didn’t allow himself to get attached, then he wouldn’t get hurt. And, yeah, Sterling knew that because it was one of his own classic moves.”
Their somewhat love-hate relationship turns into deeper feelings neither of them can ignore until the disappearance of Sterling’s sister reopens old sores for Weir and threatens to destroy their tentative chance for love.
Slowly but surely I feel at home in this town, despite the sordid details that come to light bit by bit.
The atmosphere is so vivid, I can virtually visualize the scenery and feel like I would know each resident inside out. Elle Keaton once again managed that I fell in love with both main characters right from the start. Granted, I already liked Weir in the previous books, but now that I came to know more about his past, I loved him even more.
After the second book, I already shipped him with another character, namely Buck’s friend Miguel, but the author did a great job in making me believe that due to their past Weir and Sterling are a match made in heaven. The relationship development once again left nothing to be desired and what I love in particular is that it was a different approach in each book so far, from insta-love in the first one to friends to lovers in the second and now this love-hate relationship in the third story.
The mystery part was a bit too muddled and also a tad OTT for me this time. Don’t get me wrong, the author de-muddled it perfectly in the end and it was interesting to get to know more about “conversion” therapy. It is still hard for me to believe that some people revert to such drastic measures, although it is proven that they fail spectacularly.
I just wish the solving of the case, or rather of both cases, would have been not so overly dramatic and did not exude the feeling of watching a B-movie sometimes.
But overall the romance was once again in the focus of the story and that is all that matters to me.