Series: #2 Playing the Fool
Genres: M/M Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Riptide
Released on March 15, 2016
Length: 5 hours 29 minutes
This was another re-read for me, but with an added element of being on audio. I say it many times, but it bears repeating. I can’t believe the difference getting a story in audio vs. reading it for myself can make. There’s a different nuance. In some cases it’s just different and maybe disappointing, but in other cases- like this one- it’s better. The narrator, Nick Russo, does a good job particularly with the two main characters. I was riveted by the crucial points in this story when Henry was really struggling with who he is and what he really wants. There are some real laugh out loud moments along with some soft chuckle ones, too, and the narrator nailed them. So yes, the listening experience was a wonderful way to experience this story/series.
Following right behind the first book, this one continues the story of Henry and Mac. It also continues the strong plot, engaging characters and witty dialogue. There was humor, tension, bitter-sweet romance and the intriguing suspense that ends this one abruptly setting things up for book three.
At the start, Mac is recovering from his gunshot wound and in poor spirits thinking Henry ran from him again leaving him without his star witness in the murder case and as the butt of jokes at the bureau for losing his witness yet again. However, he soon has more serious matters to worry about when he learns that he’s being investigated by the FBI’s internal affairs people and it looks very much like he’s being set up for something big. Then he gets the call from Henry to come help investigate the nursing home where Viola has been living because something bad is going on. Here they go again, Henry has gotten them into trouble involving sneaking around, costumes, acting and a volatile situation that can only end badly.
Henry gets Vi’s call that she left the nursing home and he rushes to her. She insists that something is wrong and that her friend was killed. Henry gets Vi to safety amongst his con artist friends and goes in disguise as his twin sister to investigate. He gets in deep fast and calls Mac for help. He half expects Mac to refuse and be like all the others especially since Henry keeps cutting out on Mac, but Mac comes even if he doubts things are fishy and thinks Henry is playing a game. Mac is so good and he is caring and that scares Henry because he doesn’t want to want Mac or learn to get close to him.
Between Henry’s shenanigans, the internal investigation, a new murder case and all of it tying back to Henry, Mac and Henry are once again in it up to their necks and Henry decides that only a little Shakespeare will do.
Many times a second book in a series can slump or act as merely a set up for the next book, but this one exceeded all that. This was a strong plot. The mystery that continues even though for most of the book the reader is aware there is a tie in that Mac and Henry do not until near the end. I loved the twists and the tension build up.
The romance is also a continuation from before with the peculiar relationship between these two men. Trust is a tough commodity though the attraction is the easy part. They see their relationship as a fish and fowl sort of thing not knowing how they can occupy the same worlds since one is a FBI agent and the other a criminal. Henry continues to be enigmatic even to himself as he experiments with gender, dual personality, and most of all trying to figure out who he really is. Mac both wants Henry and doesn’t want all the criminal baggage that comes with him. Henry has lied to him so often and run from him that he isn’t sure what is real though he believes some.
I loved the insertion of Henry’s twin Viola into the story and even getting her perspective. She gives an outside glimpse into understanding Henry and his sense of guilt toward her that she doesn’t believe he owes her. The authors did a good job of portraying a person with traumatic brain injury and how they think and respond to their world.
The ending was abrupt and left things hanging, but not so drastically that I wanted to rip out hair. It mostly left me impatient for book three to see where things go next for Mac and Cheese as Henry has dubbed their crime-fighting duo.
I would recommend this series for those who enjoy M/M Romantic Suspense with strong, difficult characters, a tough romantic situation and a twisty suspense.
My thanks to Riptide for the opportunity to listen to the story in exchange for an honest review.
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