Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ARC Review: Fish Out of Water by Amy Lane

PI Jackson Rivers grew up on the mean streets of Del Paso Heights—and he doesn’t trust cops, even though he was one. When the man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and his family safe.

Defense attorney Ellery Cramer grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing on street-smart, swaggering Jackson Rivers for the past six years. But when Jackson asks for his help defending Kaden Cameron, Ellery is out of his depth—and not just with guarded, prickly Jackson. Kaden wasn’t just framed, he was framed by crooked cops, and the conspiracy goes higher than Ellery dares reach—and deep into Jackson’s troubled past.

Both men are soon enmeshed in the mystery of who killed the cop in the minimart, and engaged in a race against time to clear Kaden’s name. But when the mystery is solved and the bullets stop flying, they’ll have to deal with their personal complications… and an attraction that’s spiraled out of control.

Jewel's rating:

Amy Lane does a mystery! And though this isn't my favorite Amy Lane to date, I did rather like it. Does the mystery overtake the romance? Yes, it does, so if you prefer your romance to be in the front seat, you probably won't enjoy this one as much as some of her others. The romance between the MC's is different than Amy Lane's usual fair. It's done in the middle of the action and is less sweet - overall - than some of her other books. I like mystery & suspense, though, and I felt that Fish Out of Water was done rather well, once the story got going.

I do want to mention, because I know people for whom this would matter, that near the beginning of Fish Out of Water, Jackson, who is bisexual and happily single, does have on page sex with a female secondary character. It didn't necessarily bother me, but I was caught off guard by it. It is the only sex scene in the book that does not involve the other MC, Ellery, though, which I appreciated.

Fish Out of Water is full of action. Jackson, who is a former cop and now is a private investigator, gets pulled into a case involving dirty cops, which is what took him off the force 8 years ago -- he turned in his partner, who was dirty, and it got him shot and almost killed. Suffice it to say, Jackson doesn't trust the local cops and he's seen time and again the racial disparity between the white cops and the mostly minorities of the neighborhood Jackson grew up in.

Jackson Rivers grew up in the 'hood. His mother was a drug addict and Jackson got emancipated minor status at 16. He moved in with his best friend, Kaden's, family, who by then was pretty much his family. They took care of him, and Jackson feels like he can never repay that debt. He and Kaden's sister were on again, off again all through high school, until they migrated into a friends with occasional benefits kind of thing (the sex scene mentioned above was with Jade). Jackson keeps pretty much everyone at arms length, but he will do absolutely anything for those he considers family. So when Kaden gets arrested for murder, Jackson pulls out all the stops to find the real killer and free the man he thinks of as a brother.

Ellery Cramer is a young attorney whose skills in the courtroom are the thing of envy. He grew up in a wealthy family and has an Ivy League education, so unlike Jackson, Ellery has had every opportunity practically handed to him. But he works hard for his reputation and he's not afraid to go where the case takes him. Jackson pulls Ellery in to defend Kaden and help him find the real killer. It took me longer to warm to Ellery than it did to Jackson, but once I did, I really liked him. He's kind of like a dog with a bone and when he decides that he and Jackson are going to give the attraction between them a shot, he stops at nothing to get what he wants.

In Fish Out of Water, both Ellery and Jackson get shot at - repeatedly - followed, get evidence tampered with and destroyed, and sometimes manage to only stay a step ahead of the bad guy(s). And they do all of it together and manage to have some super hot sex along the way (sometimes you're just thankful to be alive!). It didn't really feel like a romance, since the romance part is secondary, but Jackson and Ellery end this one with a strong HFN, and I am hoping that they will get their definite HEA in an upcoming story. I wasn't left wondering if they would still be together next week, but they don't feel "settled", either.

Fish Out of Water is definitely set up to be a series, since not all loose ends are tied up. The mystery of Jackson's shooting eight years ago gets resolved, but there is still a loose thread out there that pertains to the current case, and the ending is a touch cliffy. I'm looking forward to seeing where Amy Lane takes us next!


ARC of Fish Out of Water was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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