Reno Detective Cristian Flesh lives his life by a strict set of personal rules, preferring one-time flings and anonymous encounters to committed relationships. His rules work for him… until his life is turned upside down when first, a former lover, a famous televangelist, is attacked, and then one of his one-night stands is murdered, making Cristian the prime suspect.
When handsome lawyer Colby Maddox takes his case, Cristian finds himself wanting to break all his rules about relationships. The instant attraction between them is undeniable. But before they can contemplate any kind of future together, they’ll have to clear Cristian’s name by finding the real murderer.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the Flesh is a good mix of mystery and romance that is very likely to please fans of the publisher/genre. The characters are interesting and Flesh has a lot of texture and strength. He’s not an easy character to like, yet the real star of the book is the writing. Ethan Stone has penned a fast paced, slick story that grabs you while developing and maturing the murder and the main characters. The voice used is a curious mixture of wit and a dry recitation of events yet remains interesting with a distinctly masculine feel to the first person narration.
The main detective, Cris Flesh, is not always a nice guy. He’s unrepentant about wanting no strings sex – he’s always a bottom, never a top – he wants to be dominated and humiliated during the encounter and that’s it. He has more rules than you can keep track of to avoid intimacy and protect himself. He has a mysterious past filled with some kind of abuse, but since the narrator is first person that abuse is only hinted at but never really explained. Flesh refuses to talk about his past so the story never delves too deeply into his background. Instead it gives him free reign to have sex with anyone that catches his eye while following his actions as a cop.
Flesh often makes stupid, ridiculous mistakes that make you want to slap him. What keeps you reading is his self awareness. Flesh knows they’re stupid mistakes but he’s so arrogant and self destructive, he honestly doesn’t care. Over the course of the story he matures and changes from fearing intimacy and commitment to opening himself up to love and emotion. His romance with Colby covers the later half of the story while the murder mystery is the focus for the first half. There is a loose thread that keeps the story going at the end while the romance resolves with the typical tension, drama, issues, and happy ending. The mystery for the most part is pretty good – although I guessed the culprit very early on – but the actual mystery is a decent combination of slightly ridiculous heroics and good police work.
The writing is what really struck me with this offering and it makes me want to read more from the author. The characters and mystery itself sometimes bothered or frustrated but the unique feel to the voice and tone of the writing always drew me back. The crisp, clean prose keeps the descriptions concise and interesting. The good mixture of romance and mystery delivers a solid story that is sure to be a hit with readers. There are numerous unanswered questions though so this promises to be a series and one I think fans will really enjoy.
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