This is one of my favorite m/m series out there. What I love most about it is always what drives me the most crazy. It's a series about the relationship between Cole and Jae. We get to see that relationship grow and develop and strengthen over the series. That's the good part. We also get to see that relationship hit life's bumps, whether due to the internal mechanisms of Cole and Jae or due to outside forces like the Jae's family or the ever expanding group of people who seem to try to kill Cole. That's the tough part. Their relationship wasn't tied up neatly with a nice bow at the end of book 1, they have had to battle through and become more confident of their feelings for each other. It drives me nuts for them to hit these bumps, yet, it adds to the strengthening of their relationship when they do and makes it more real for me. It hurt my heart at their struggles in this book but I'm also glad there was no extended break up. The "giving space" was enough for my heart to handle.
The series also works so well because it's not just Cole and Jae. There's a cast of supporting characters we have also gotten to know better and better through the series and to love; Claudia and her family, Bobby, Scarlett, Neko, Mike and Maddy, and now, Ichiro. Oh, Ichiro, I am going to love what you do to Bobby. You're exactly what that pessimistic ex cop with a heart that he tries to hide needs - someone with enough smart assery, intelligence and confidence to make him work for it. I instantly liked Ichiro and it was easy to see how he would fit in with Mike and Cole. I'm happy for his addition. Once again, this author doesn't disappont with great writing, characters and story.
I'm not going to knock it down in my rating but the ending with Jae being shot seemed like overkill. It didn't feel like that needed to happen - it would have been enough of a scare to just have Sheila aiming for him, to shoot and miss or not to even have shot. She could have made a clear threat and gotten away. Plus, do we really need to have someone hospitalized near death in each book? There was already enough angst with Jae being outed to his mom. It was too much. We are also no closer in understanding why Rick was killed.
This book also had a really nice mystery that wasn't easy to figure out although it took away from some Jae-Cole time. It probably had the least amount of Cole-Jae time of all the books but I can be ok with it because big strides were made in their relationship. However, I missed Cole and Jae, together. They are the heart of the series.
As always, I will anxiously await the next one.