Dana reviews Transactional Dynamics (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 3) by Gregory Ashe (Published by Hodgkin and Blount, March 27, 2020, 444 pages. Audiobook released May 19 2020. Narrated by Tristan James. 12 hours 29 minutes in length.) An audio code was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I listened to this: I am a fan of these characters from the previous series and this new series is providing a nail-biting mystery arc and some relationship struggles that have my stomach twisting up.
To read the review of The Rational Faculty (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 1) click here.
To read the review of Police Brutality (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 2) click here.
Emery Hazard is ready for Valentine’s Day. He’s made reservations months in advance, he’s ordered flowers, and he’s got a boyfriend he wants to treat right — even if John-Henry Somerset occasionally lets the dishes sit in the sink a little too long. They even have an extra reason to celebrate this year: Somers has received a special commendation for his police work.
Everything begins to go wrong, though, when Hazard’s ex-boyfriend shows up on their doorstep. Billy claims he just needs help getting away from an abusive partner, but Somers believes Billy has other motives, including designs on Hazard.
When men who have been hired to track Billy show up in Wahredua, Hazard agrees to help his ex elude them. But as Hazard prepares to sneak Billy out of town, a woman is murdered behind the local gay bar, and Somers’s investigation leads him towards Hazard’s ex.
As Hazard and Somers find themselves working together to find the killer, they both must confront a hard truth: Everything comes at a cost — career success, healthy relationships, and even justice. The only question is if they’re willing to pay the price.
So, the first book in this series had me tangled up in knots and full of tension. I reviewed the second book and felt like the author was giving us a break before the drama between the two main characters, and the people in town, got explosive. In this book, I feel like the author is slowly ramping things back up.
The Bright Lights organization/hate group were silent, but I don’t really expect that to last long. The more liberal protesters from the local college are also quiet. The police force’s abuse of power does play a fairly important part in this book as well as the last one as we learn that some officers are on the take and local business, legal and illegal, are suffering for it. Hazard and Somerset had seemed to have talked through most of their problems in the last book, but the arrival of Hazard’s ex definitely throws things off and reveals even more problems that they haven’t quite admitted to, even to themselves.
Somerset is now the recipient of an award for his heroism. The instance he received the award for occurred while Hazard was still his work partner. I don’t think that Hazard resents Somerset’s recognition, and he is happy for his partner in life, but there might be some underlying bitterness because it is the same case that required Hazard to leave his job. Hazard had killed a dangerous criminal who happened to be a past bully of Hazard’s and there are unofficial questions about how he handled the situation. Then comes Hazard’s ex, Billy, who emotionally manipulated Hazard by acting like Hazard was too rough and verged on abusive. It makes Hazard question himself in a lot of ways. He sees all his actions in a new light and he might have believed himself to be a monster if not for Somerset’s support.
I was like, “Thank goodness for Somerset and his support of Hazard.” Only Somerset had his own demons resurrecting as his need to unwind and have a beer or four started affecting his relationship with Hazard the same way it affected the one with his ex-wife. Honestly, for a moment I thought lines would be crossed that couldn’t be mended. Somerset’s new partner seems to like seeing him unencumbered by Hazard and almost encourages Somerset’s bad behavior. It could have been worse, but what Hazard does walk in on is pretty awful and while they seem to deal with the consequences, there are scars that won’t disappear as easily.
So, yes, the tension between the two men did seem like a roller coaster in this book. Meanwhile, two private detectives from St. Louis come to town in a cameo appearance from the author’s other series. It was fun seeing North and Shaw appear to be the calm and sane ones, knowing how they are in their own series. It turns out Billy isn’t only trying to manipulate Hazard to hate himself but wants Hazard to help him escape from facing the consequences of some criminal behavior in St. Louis. The murder that Somerset and his partner Dulac are investigating sees one of Hazard’s other ex’s under suspicion though things aren’t quite what they seem. The Keeper of Bees also pretends to be Hazard to get his hands on one of his previous victims and his reappearance is just one more wrench thrown in the way of a peaceful life for Hazard and Somerset.
I was sucked into all that happened in this book, if you couldn’t tell by lengthy review. I am just on edge waiting for what the two mc’s might face in the next book, and I can’t wait for it to be on audio. Tristan James voices these two characters wonderfully. I definitely recommend the book and narrator and the whole series.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
I’m a long-time Midwesterner. I’ve lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, my current home. Aside from reading and writing (which take up a lot of my time), I’m an educator.