Dana reviews Shell Shocked (Yolks on You Book 1) by Jessica Payseur (Published by JMS Books, March 27, 2016, 199 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
This week was Comfort Zone Week at RGR and I had a hard time choosing a book at first. I love and find comfort with such a wide variety of books. I thought about reviewing a few of my angsty favorites, which sounds really odd for a week with the word comfort in it, right? When we were asked to review Shell Shocked, I was excited. I have become a big fan of mysteries in LGBT fiction and m/m romance.
Blurb: When Dominic agrees to join his boyfriend Alec and his kids for a weekend away at the annual Eggstravaganza in Mount Angus, Wisconsin, he’s expecting a boring, if kitschy, experience. He isn’t expecting to discover Alec is cheating on him, and he certainly isn’t expecting an exploding cow to drop him in the middle of a deadly mystery.
Suddenly single and surrounded by a town’s worth of suspects, Dom finds himself oddly drawn to playing the sleuth, especially if it will get him closer to Kiko, the owner of the niche shop Yolks on You.
Together the two men navigate a web of intrigue and lies, and the sniping of a jealous Alec, in a town filled with murder and Easter-themed mayhem. Will they manage to make it through the Eggstravaganza alive, or will the murderer leave them much more than just Shell Shocked?
From the blurb I was immediately interested in reading this story. First, it was cool to review a book that takes place during Easter right around the actual holiday. Second, I’ve visited Wisconsin too many times to count since it’s the state right above me; and third, I love an interesting mystery. The story starts right away with Dominic and Alec’s break up after they’ve arrived at a Easter festival in Wisconsin. The two of them are from Illinois looking for a fun, kitschy time, but the first event of the weekend ends with a cow being killed by a bomb.
If I hadn’t disliked Alec already. his reaction to the bombing would turn me against him. When everyone runs, he freezes. It’s not that action that is so frustrating, it’s that he doesn’t think about his kids even once. He left Dom to rescue them. I know not all dads are caretakers but in my opinion his kids should be his first thought in a catastrophe. In all of this I actually do feel bad for the kids, because it’s clear that Dom took care of them better than their dad and the break up was bound to hurt them. I wished the author did go into that a little, created a little closure where Dom could have told the kids he was sorry, but he and their father had to split up. Instead, I felt the kids were left in the lurch.
As more bombings follow, several people are injured and one was killed. For some reason Dom takes it upon himself to solve the mystery. I can’t remember if the author says what the character’s day job is, but I think it is nothing near private investigating or police work. It’s not the first book where a non-detective works on solving mysteries. Seeing as the character is a tourist, it is unusual that he would worry so much about who is terrorizing this small town. If I were to take a guess it would be because he is trying to first see if the cute and sweet Kiko is involved, and then about protecting him. I think there could have been a bit more detail about what was going through the character’s head when he decided to play PI.
I found the mystery portion of the book to be interesting and though I suspected who the perpetrator might be, the author threw in enough possible suspects that I wasn’t positive. I was glad that it was wrapped up before even more damage was done. Though it was shown that the police are investigating the situation, they were largely missing in the story and there were no conversations on page between any officers and the main characters. It made it seem like the police department/sheriff’s office is sleeping on the job. Dom made note of that in the story, and it seemed crazy after at least 5 bombs go off and a tourist was killed.
As for the romance part, there is chemistry between the two main characters. Kiko seems to embrace it fully, but Dom tries to keep a little distance between them. It becomes apparent he is just trying to make sure he doesn’t fall for someone he won’t see again after the festival weekend. When the crime is solved and it is time for Dom to go home there is definitely hesitation in his step and regret there can’t be more. The story is primarily a romance, s there is a happy for now ending, with the possiblity of a HEA later. It is the first book, so that is probably the case, and I would definitely continue the series. I’d like to see more aspects of the characters explored and see if mystery and intrigue will continue to effect the town of Mount Angus. I would recommend this story for it’s sweetness, for sure.
8/10 Pots of Gold (80% Recommended) – Compares to 4/5 Stars
Jessica Payseur has been cursed with the ability to see a story in anything at all. This is especially useful in the long Wisconsin winter months, when the only inspiration the world gives is endless snow and the lingering promise of frostbite for the unwise.