Erryn and Dana review Breaking Cover (Life Lessons Book 2) by Kaje Harper. (Audiobook released June 29, 2022. 9 hours 46 minutes in length. Narrated by J.F. Harding. Ebook self published December 14, 2021. 397 pages.)
Book Title: Breaking Cover (Life Lessons Book 2)
Author and Publisher: Kaje Harper
Narrator: JF Harding
Release Date: June 29, 2022
Genre: Contemporary/Mystery M/M romance
Tropes: Modest age-gap, in the closet
Themes: Coming out, gay parenting
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 9 hours and 46 minutes
It is best read after book 1.
The book does not end on a cliffhanger. It has a solid HFN ending, not yet a HEA. Audiobooks 3 and 4 scheduled for later this summer.
Buy Links – Audible, KU and Paperback
For homicide detective Mac, it’s been a good year. Having Tony to go home to makes him a better cop and a better person. For Tony, it’s been hard being in love with a man he can’t touch in public. Evasions and outright lying to friends and family take a little of the shine off his relationship with Mac, but Tony is determined to make it work.
As the Minneapolis Police Department moves into a hot, humid summer, Mac is faced with a different challenge. A killer has murdered two blond women, and the police have no real clues. Mac hates to think that another murder may be the only way they’ll make progress with the case. But when that murder happens, it hits close to home for Tony. And suddenly Mac faces an ultimatum: come out into the sunlight and stand beside Tony as his lover, or walk away and live without a piece of his heart.
I’ll start by saying I love Mac and Tony. They work in so many ways and yeah, I was sorry at the end of book 1 that they couldn’t come out as a couple, but I respected the choices they made. The way they shared a special relationship while also being part of their kid’s lives (Mac’s daughter and Tony’s best friend’s son who he spends tons of time with).
Things are going along well in this book until a murder threatens to destroy everything they’ve built. I’ll admit it – I worried. Mac’s so far in the closet that he can’t even see a sliver of daylight and Tony’s suddenly fighting to keep what he has and can’t be worried about hurting Mac. It’s a mess. But Kaje gives her characters great conflict with the promise of great resolution. I wasn’t sure how far the resolution would take me, given there are other books in the series. But I was uniquely satisfied with this ending. Oh, and you know, serial killer and all that stuff as well. Everything just worked seamlessly and I can’t wait for the next book.
I will also say I think JF Harding is the perfect narrator for this series. He does a great job with Mac and Tony and yet also does brilliantly with the kids.
I believe this book takes place around 6 months after the first book in this series. For the most part, Mac and Tony’s relationship has been going well. Tony isn’t happy that he has to hide his relationship in the closet and can’t share his happiness with his friends, but well, Mac is worth the secrecy. Though there are really some times that Tony would like Mac’s support, but Mac is too afraid to be there in case someone thinks he is gay like Tony.
I admit to feeling a little frustration over the situation, just like Tony does. I started reading m/m books in 2014, and in that time, I have seen progress in the way that characters are written. A lot more law enforcement characters are out and proud. The original version of this series was written before I started reading gay romance and times have changed since then in real life, mostly, and in the genre. Honestly, I don’t know what a police officer has to deal with by coming out in reality, but in romance I think we want to see the characters unafraid to be who they are, so most characters aren’t as afraid as Mac. I feel for Mac, but his fear of people even learning he and Tony are friends is frustrating. Having said that, I do love the characters individually and as a pair. I just want for them to be happy.
There is definitely more to the book and series than the secretive relationship, though. In the first book Mac and Tony meet when Tony finds a dead body at the school where he teaches. A lot less of Tony’s teaching career is discussed in this book, probably because the mystery doesn’t take place there this time. Mac and his partner are investigating a series of murders that might be the work of a serial killer. At first, Tony is just a supporting boyfriend at the end of the day, but eventually he finds himself involved when he has ties to the next victim. Tony’s deceased best friend had a son with the woman, and Tony finds himself with temporary custody.
The murderer is hard to find and I like that the police detectives have to really put in the work to solve the mystery. The help of an earlier victim who was left alive changes the game, but the media attention on Tony’s kid also brings danger closer to home. It is an exciting finish for sure. There is a little matter of the boy, Ben’s, grandparents disputing the will and Tony’s custody. It is a pivotal moment for Tony and Mac, and who they are going forward. It is a HFN ending that seems very promising to me.
Well, I definitely recommend the story, but I have to mention the narrator as well. J. F. Harding does a great job bringing the book to life. I really love listening to audiobooks because it is difficult to read when there are so many things to do, so I appreciate the listening experience and would recommend it to others.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
I get asked about my name a lot. It’s not something exotic, though. “Kaje” is pronounced just like “cage” – it’s an old nickname, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’ve been writing far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty-five years*), although mostly for my own entertainment. I write M/M romance, often with added mystery, fantasy, historical, SciFi, paranormal… I also have Young Adult short stories (some released under the pen name Kira Harp.)
After decades of writing just for fun, my husband convinced me I really should submit something, somewhere. My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out in May 2011. I now have a good-sized backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year and Rainbow Award Best Mystery-Thriller Tracefinder: Contact. A complete list with links can be found on my website “Books” page at https://kajeharper.com/books/.
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