Tanja reviews ‘Holding Out For A Fairytale (Least Likely Partnership #2) by A.J. Thomas (Published by Dreamspinner Press; May 9, 2014)
Why I read it: When DSP gave us the choice of any three books to test us as ARC review blog, I took a look through their books and stumbled upon this one. Since I really liked book one “A Casual Weekend Thing” it was an easy choice for me. I was not disappointed with it….great storyline and a subtle romance 🙂 .
Least Likely Partnership: Book Two
When his vicious cousin Alejandro makes a violent late-night visit, San Diego homicide detective Ray Delgado gets a brutal reminder of why he left his family behind. Alejandro wants Ray to find his sister, Sophia, who disappeared from the UC San Diego campus, before the FBI digs too deep into his business.
Special Agent Elliot Belkamp spent his entire life jumping from one place to another, but his new assignment assisting a FBI task force offers him a chance to settle down. When Elliot catches a missing person’s case as his first assignment, the last person he expects to find poking around the victim’s dorm room is Ray, a one-time hookup he’s more inclined to punch in the face than kiss hello. After discovering Sophia’s disappearance is linked to a massive computer-based theft that has two powerful crime families ready to declare war, Elliot focuses on his investigation and tries to ignore Ray. As the search for Sophia turns dangerous, Elliot and Ray discover that tackling organized crime might be easier than resisting the urge to tackle each other.
Ray pulled on a pair of latex gloves out of habit and began at the front of the room, searching everything. He moved around the room, from one side to the other, checking everything systematically. He searched through Sophie’s armoire and desk, trying not to disturb anything. A dozen empty hangers were scattered among the clothes hanging in the armoire, and her laundry basket was empty. There was no makeup bag, and the basket of toiletries sitting next to the laundry basket held some obscure beauty products Ray had never heard of, but was completely lacking in basic things like shampoo and toothpaste. There was also no sign of her luggage, her backpack, or her laptop case. Since her laptop and phone were also gone, Las Vegas was beginning to look more likely.
When he searched Sophie’s desk, he was a bit surprised by how empty it was. There was no address book, no schedule, nothing except a bundle of notebook paper still wrapped in plastic. He knew she did most things on her computer or phone, but almost everyone kept scraps of paper or a pen around a desk.
Finally, Ray climbed up to the top of the bed. It was neatly made, with one of their grandmother’s quilts draped over a knit blanket. And aside from the bedding, there was nothing else there.
He hopped down and called his sister.
“Did you find her?” she asked, without bothering with a hello.
Ray sighed. “No, and before you panic, hear me out. I’m pretty sure she’s fine. Half of her clothes are gone, along with her luggage, her laptop, her makeup bag, and all that stuff. Odds are she just needed a break. There are no signs of a struggle, and wherever she’s gone, she took the time to pack.”
“Are you sure? Mama and Aunt Louisa are meeting with some woman from the FBI this morning, but she won’t tell them anything over the phone and….”
Ray rolled his eyes, grateful that they were on the phone, because she would have smacked him for it. “No. Stop right there. You’re not allowed to get hysterical and start screaming. I swear I will hang up on you if you do. The whole family is worried because Alejandro wants them to worry. He’s the one who came to me, and I’d bet ten bucks the only thing they know is what he’s told them. Am I right?”
“Not buts. Whatever Alejandro’s game is, if he hurt his own sister, even Aunt Louisa would disown him. And wherever Sophie is, she is ten times smarter than him and you know it.”
“It’s not just Alejandro! The FBI is sending someone here to search the house, too! They’re worried, Raymond!
”Behind him, Ray heard the soft buzz as the electronic lock opened.
“Hang on, this might be her now.”
Ray pulled the door open quickly, expecting and hoping to see Sophie looking hungover and tired. Instead, he saw a tall, slender man in a loose pinstriped suit. The build didn’t match Alejandro’s, and Ray wasn’t willing to open fire in a crowded university residence hall for anyone besides his own dear cousin. Ray took in the man’s posture, assessing him as a potential threat. His suit jacket was unbuttoned, giving the man easy access to the pistol in his shoulder harness. His hand was frozen a few inches from the pistol’s grip.Then he took in the way the man’s suit hung off him and felt a stir of instant lust. He ran his gaze over tightly muscled arms and shoulders. His mind was swirling, sorting through a dozen different scenarios that might come to pass as soon as the man spoke, and planning how he could manipulate those scenarios to drag this man home with him tonight. As he brought his gaze up to the man’s angular, handsome face, he gaped at the familiar features, the soft pale green eyes, and the furious expression on the other man’s face.“You?” Special Agent Elliot Belkamp pointed an accusing finger at him. “What the hell are you doing here?”
Ray swallowed hard. He hadn’t seen Elliot in nearly eight months, when they had spent the better part of a week blowing off steam in a northwestern Montana hotel room before Ray had fled back to civilization. The sex had been one of the hottest things Ray had ever experienced, and not just because it was one of his first forays into having sex with other men. He’d thought so at the time, but diving into San Diego’s gay scene headfirst afterward had resulted in one long series of disappointing hookups after another.Ray had never expected to see him again. Aside from being separated by a thousand miles, Ray had made an ass of himself before they parted ways. To this day, he was utterly confused about just how he’d screwed things up, but he was pretty sure he had. He had tried to explain that he was nervous about being with another man, tried to find the words to say that he felt like letting another man fuck him would make him weak, make him less of a man. Elliot had just smiled and said he didn’t fuck around with people who didn’t respect him and headed for the door. When Ray tried to stop him from leaving, the other man had efficiently knocked him on his ass. Skinny or not, Elliot Belkamp could fight.
Still, even if it meant getting his ass kicked, Ray would gladly do it all over again.
“Carmen,” Ray grinned, “I’m going to have to call you back.”
Ray, a homicide detective gets a visit from his “lovely” cousin Alejandro, a drug cartel boss one evening. Alejandro is one mean manipulative bastard and he is sooo good at it 🙂 . Seriously, with that kind of family you absolutely don´t need enemies but thanks to his family Ray has a lot of them. It´s understandable why Ray left his family and you have to admire him for his actions against them. The only relatives he cares about are his sister and niece. As Alejandro tells Ray that Sophie vanished Ray takes a look into the case. What he finds turns his life around a bit…in more ways than one.
Ray is a brilliant detective, highly intelligent and he refers to himself as nerd. Not to forget he is cynic, doesn´t tolerate mistakes from others in the least, but is also sweet, caring and socially inept. This awkwardness led to some things Ray said to Special Agent Elliot Belkamp. They hooked up a while back, which didn’t end so well, namely Elliot storming out of the room and Ray puzzling over what he did wrong. Elliot is not thrilled when he meets Ray again, of all things at his crime scene in Sophia´s dorm room. It´s not just a case for Elliot, it´s his chance to finally settle down in one place and Ray is a thorn in his flesh. There is just one problem: Ray doesn´t leave him alone so Elliot agrees to work with him. After all he can be professional, can´t he?
Those two were great together, not always in the best of ways, but I had fun with them. They were drawn to each other, sexual sparkles flew left and right and the attraction they felt? Well they fought it every step of the way, each one of them for their own reasons. Yes I wanted to smack them over the head a few times and sometimes I just thought “Elliot get over yourself” but overall I enjoyed the ride with them a lot. There is character growth in it and what Ray did in the last chapters for Elliot and also himself impressed me a lot.
The mystery part: This is not a story about who did it, since that´s clear early on. It´s about why the person did what (s)he did, who else is involved and how all that is connected. It´s like a puzzle; as you move along you get bits and pieces and in the end a picture. Brilliantly done, well written with a lot of twists – I LIKED THIS A LOT.
So if you like a good mystery plot with interesting characters you should give this a try. Although Ray and Elliot were introduced in book one, it can be read as a standalone….not that you should ignore the first one, which was also a really good read 😉 . Recommended!!
8/10 pots of gold
Dreamspinner !!! ❤