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Summary

For the first time in a long while, Emery Hazard’s life is good. His new business as a private detective is taking off. Things are good at home. He loves his boyfriend, John-Henry Somerset; he loves their daughter. He might even love the new friends they’ve found. There’s only one problem: Somers has been talking about marriage. 

When a former colleague, Walter Hoffmeister, comes to Hazard and hires him to look into a series of anonymous death threats, Hazard eagerly jumps on the distraction. Hoffmeister might be a jerk, but he’s a paying jerk, and Hazard isn’t convinced the threats are serious. 

Until, that is, Hoffmeister is almost gunned down on Hazard’s doorstep. As Hazard investigates more deeply, he learns that more than one person in Wahredua has a reason to wish Hoffmeister dead. His search takes him to the Ozark Volunteers, reincarnated as the Bright Lights movement, but it also leads him into a sanctuary of radical Christianity. Meanwhile, an antifa activist has arrived in town, calling for Hoffmeister’s death and threatening total war with the Bright Lights. 

As Hazard continues to look for answers, he becomes a target, too - and not just because he’s helping Hoffmeister. The Keeper of Bees is still at large, and the killer hasn’t lost interest in Emery Hazard. Not yet. Not, Hazard begins to suspect, until the Keeper has taken everything Hazard holds dear.

©2020 Gregory Ashe (P)2020 Gregory Ashe

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Another great book in this fantastic series

A quark is a quantum entanglement. This I did not know. One of Emery Hazard’s many little gems of information he bestows. And despite loving his boyfriend desperately, all this talk of marriage is getting to him. But that’s okay because he has another paying client – a good thing for his upstart PI biz. A former cop is convinced someone’s out to get him. Hazard doesn’t believe it, but the money’s good, and it gives him something to do. When he isn’t caring for his lover John-Henry or their daughter Evie.

As Hazard investigates the threats, all of the former cop’s behavior comes to light including some terrible things he did. Hence the title of the book. Part of me wanted him to get his comeuppance. Too often cops get away with things and it’s only the advent of cell phones and the brave citizens that hold them that are forcing police to be accountable.

The ending was a surprise for me and that’s always good. Did not predict who the bad guy would be. Also didn’t foresee the turn the relationship between the two men would take. I enjoyed the book, although not quite as much as book 1. But I can’t wait to see where the series goes next. And I’ll give a shout-out to Tristan James – I love his narration style and it works with these books.

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brilliant

absolutely love this series. can't wait for the next installment. Narrator has got Hazard and Somerset perfect.

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Good story

The concept is interesting and well written. The characters are likeable and the narration is good.

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When the going get tough

I received this audiobook as an advanced listener and listened to it simultaneously with the purchased e-book.

Tristan James' narration nails Gregory Ashe's writing every time.

This spin off to to the original Hazard and Somerset series takes us to new heights as we continue to get to know Hazard and Somers and their crazy and sometimes scary hometown of Wahredua.

We meet Hazard having to find a way to live with the fallout from his first private investigation in book one. We also have both Somers and Hazard continuing to learn what it takes to build their relationship at home when they are no longer partners at work. I would argue that the brutality in the title refers to both the brutality of this struggle and the brutality in the cases that they have to investigate. However, don't think this book is all harshness without any light as it contains some of my favourite romantic moments of any book that I have read.

Once again Ashe brings new twists to a crime and thriller with Wharedua having its own particular spin on what man will do to man to get what he wants and the facades we put up when end up leading the lives that other expect of us, not the one that we wish to live. Unfortunately, the storyline is all too believable.

Ashe also give you people you will like, that will irritate you and some that you would cross the road if you saw them coming. I love the way that neighbours Noah and Rebecca have taken Hazard and Somers under their wing, offering them unconditional friendship and support as they find themselves. Now Dulac, I never sure if I want to box his ears or spend the time that Somers does listening to his outpourings. Then we have the likes of Hoffmeister and Kelly, who fall into the cross the road if you see them coming category! All of these characters are so well drawn so that these emotions are generated within you.

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  • casrock
  • 22-01-21

Hazard + Somerset: easiest read of series

Another amazing book in this wonderful series. This one makes you want to jump to the next right now!! Kind of like at the end of book 3 in the previous series. This one to me is the most stable and not so intense in what is happening. There are still things going on and mysteries to be solved. This one was just easier. At times I am not sure what to think of Somers’ new partner Dulac, but by the end of this one, I think he is great!! Also, Hazard and Somers’ relationship is kinda on the rocks a lot in this one but by the end I believe they have really found their footing in both their personal and professional lives. Another stellar performance by Tristan James on the narration. I cannot see what these men get up to next!!

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  • Carol (bookish_notes)
  • 02-08-21

Interesting developments

So, by the time I’m writing this review, I’ve already read this book 3 times this year – first by e-book, and twice now by audio, and it just doesn’t get old? I wanted to say I have a short attention span, but maybe that’s not right. The ending is for sure very memorable and sweet, after a lot of angst and heartache in this book, but.

The mystery aspect. The deduction happens quickly and the arrest is from the sidelines so we’re not really IN the action as say, what happened in the other books. The mystery piece, whatever it was going to be, could be counted on to take a step back from the horrors of The Rational Faculty. That book introduces the events that will define this story’s arc, so that’s only logical. And yet, I still feel like I missed something important.

This is still a solid book, with a great ending for Hazard and Somers that makes it feel enough of a HFN that makes me wonder if this series can be called a mystery or a romance (I like to say it’s both).

I was worried about this book the first time I read it, because while I adore Hazard and Somers, the book’s title was a bit worrisome. Because I wondered how a white author could possibly do right by writing about police brutality? Well, there certainly aren’t many POC characters in this series to begin with, and some parts in this book were definitely OH WHY *facepalm* moments. However, if you’ve already made it this far into the series, none of this would be particularly shocking, at this point, but I think they’re still worth pointing out.

I’m sure I missed something, but I would say that the trigger warnings for this book include blackmail, threats, violence, homomisia, transmisia, racism, misogyny, ableism, mentions of suicide, abuse, revenge, fatmisia, PTSD, mentions of rape and underage sexual abuse, and codependency.

The Bright Lights movement is a menace and just a new name with a new face for a white supremacist group in Wadhredua. They’re up to no good, but when you combine that with dirty cops who like to get revenge on people off the books? It’s a bad combination and two white gay detectives, Somers and Dulac, are guaranteed to run into the worst of them.

Hazard now has his own office for his private investigator business…but he doesn’t really have a name for his business yet and his first paying client winded up kidnapped and almost murdered, so, Hazard doesn’t have a great track record with his new business. The PI business grows by word of mouth, though, so who better to show up on his door than a former colleague – Walter Hoffmeister.

Hoffmeister has always been nasty, a very particular kind of nasty you never want to get on the wrong side of. And this book proves that tenfold. It’s hard to sympathize with him being worried for his life and hiring Hazard to investigate what’s going on. And I guess I don’t really feel anything for him at all except for disgust.

Because this is a top notch Hazard and Somerset book, we can’t just have one mystery going on, but expect multiple plots happening at once. I love seeing how the story weaves all of these together. Hazard and Somers have to find what’s right for them going forward in both their professional and personal lives. Hazard not only with his PI work, but also that side of him that can’t back down for a mystery and the small town of Wahreda never seems to fail to deliver. Somers and Dulac have their jobs to do, but when Hazard starts getting tangled into all of it? Well, let’s just say Dulac’s very presence doesn’t make anything better.

And what’s with Dulac anyways? There’s just fishy about him. Is he really just some frat boy who likes sleeping around, or is there something more? Upon my re-reads I’m just not convinced Dulac is as innocent as he seems. His first appearance in The Rational Faculty was a hardass on his first day of work, but the suspect thing was the coffee he got for Somers. Doing research on his partner and knowing the exact way Somers takes his coffee? There’s also the constant descriptions of Dulac looking all innocent until the last moment when you think he might not be. And also the way he treats his partners is a bit…ridiculous. To put it kindly. Would it be too easy to suggest he’s the Keeper of Bees? Sure. Am I ruling him out though? NOPE.

Anyways, with Hazard and Somers, they’re still in their honeymoon phase of their relationship, as their neighbor Rebeca says. They haven’t really shown the bad parts of themselves to each other yet. Or at least not as grown-ups. We know how they were as kids and how awful Somers USED to be. But now is brand new territory.

Hazard is still depressed and hasn’t gotten to see a therapist for the events in July from the book, Criminal Past. Somers is dealing with going to work and not seeing Hazard everyday, and only just finally starting to not worry about how he’ll find Hazard once he returns home from work.

It’s a lot of growing pains for Hazard and Somers. But good ones. Necessary ones. And that makes the ending of this book pay off spectacularly.

And talking about that ending, I do love that Cora isn’t some evil ex-wife stereotype, but is actually really lovely and I love all her interactions with Hazard and Somers now that things have settled between all of them. I couldn’t have imagined Cora’s had it easy either when caught in the whirling romance of Hazard and Somers, so do I hope she gets her HEA too? Of course! I wish her only the best. Evie remains adorable and the best child.

The audiobooks are narrated by the great Tristan James. I’ve listened to his narrations before, but considering how many hours combined the Hazard and Somerset books are, I’ve definitely listened to him AS Hazard and Somers the most. And he really embodies who Hazard and Somers are and it’s hard to read these books in text without his voice in my head for all the characters. Is that creepy?

I think one of my all-time favorite parts in his narrations though happens in this book. It’s when a certain someone gets his nose broken and the voice for that character’s broken nose is HILARIOUS. I had to go back and replay it a couple times. And bookmark it, of course.

The ending to the mystery aspect of this story seems a bit…ableist. It doesn’t sit right with me at all. So. Make of that what you will.

I’ve mostly delayed writing a review for this book because of the events happening in the world. And it just didn’t feel right to write a review for this book. I don’t think this book necessarily glorifies the police and makes them some holier than thou entity you should respect out of some misguided sense of justice. This series doesn’t shy away from showing that cops are bad and prone to taking bribes. I mean, that’s how Hazard winded off the force and going into being a private investigator now, right? But I think this series does have moments that takes the side of cops because that’s what Hazard used to be and it’s something that Somers is now. Hazard and Somers are good people just trying to solve murders, but…well. I like thinking of these mystery books as the fiction that they are and something that doesn’t reflect real life. Because at the end of the day in real life? ACAB. I adore Hazard and Somers but I think it’s also important to remember that they’re fictional characters and loving them isn’t an endorsement for the jobs they play.

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  • MisMissyC
  • 02-05-21

So good, this series does not disappoint.

The series arc has just kept the momentum going so well. Every book has been enjoyable. Police brutality felt a little different than previous books, less focus on the crime. More page time interaction between John and Emery. The teasing banter of Somerset and Emerys frosty demeaner are just fun. like a tennis match at times. Their game of tit for tat trading of antagonistic remarks has turned into divine foreplay.
I seriously laughed out loud a couple of times.
Not sure yet what to make of Gray Dulac, he is equal parts very annoying and pretty darn funny.
Loved the ending of this book, I hope there is more humour in the next books.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 25-04-21

I've never loved them more!

Somers might be my favorite person in the world. And even though Hazard sometimes drives me nuts, I love him too. Together they just work and there was so much sexual tension and drama in this one that I found myself half laughing/ half turned on for the majority of the book. I was enjoying the drama that Dulac brought to the story so much that I was a little bummed he got sidelined a bit with a guy. Oh well though, just looking for a little guilty pleasure drama just for once.

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  • JAW
  • 30-12-20

Love love love

I don't know where to begin I love this series I love the Arthur and I especially loved Tristan James for making this feel so real. this is a must-read series

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-09-20

Great Story

I loved this book just like all the rest of the series.I felt like I was in the same room, the interactions were realistic. Another great addition to the series

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  • Yvonne M
  • 31-08-20

Wow 🤩

I loved this book! Once again you can really see the connection between the two main guys. The author did a great job with the story, he always has me wanting more.

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  • Ric
  • 28-08-20

Great Story Good Series

Such interesting details good work. Sizziling. Great romance. Looking forward to more good stories Thanks.

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  • Riva
  • 29-06-20

Another winner

I was given a free copy of this audiobook in return for an honest review.

I love that this series has such complicated characters and multi levels of drama and intrigue. It has a great balance of mystery and romance. In this book Hazard’ latest client is a nightmare, racist, homophobe. But he needs help and Hazard steps up. I also love the way GA weaves in relevant social issues within the cast of characters; including a “holier than thou” trans pastor.

This story is a rollercoaster ride and focuses more on the relationship than the first book in this series. It is of course woven around a mystery and I think some clues to the over arching mystery. But of course I can’t really tell because GA is a tricky guy. To say Hazard starts his new PI business with unresolved issues is an understatement. The events in the first series keep cropping up. He goes from treating Somerset like crap to confessing undying love; it gives me whiplash. Somerset wants more from the relationship, but Hazard is resistant for Hazard-like reasons. So of course Somerset does stupid things to push Hazard’s buttons.

Like I said, a roller coaster. But in the end, I enjoyed the ride and the “surprise” ending that just makes me anxious for the next book, job well done! As a side note, before this book I hated Somerset’s new partner; he just isn’t right on so many levels. But he grows a little in this book and really made me laugh on several occasions. However, at this point I don’t trust GA not to spring some kind of surprise about him, so I’m keeping my eye on him.

Part of my change of heart about Somerset’s partner is the masterful job Tristan James does in performing his character. He does a great job with all the guys, but he does particularly well with that guy. He gets all the inflections dead on. The conversation about “threesomes” and “foursomes” had me laughing out loud. He can just convey so much feeling through his voice that I just got wrapped up in the story. On to Book Three!

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  • Michelle
  • 24-06-20

Gets Better and Better

This series is so good and the audio makes it even better. Emery and John-Henry have their ups and downs and I'm invested every step of the way. As I've come to expect with this series, the mystery and suspense is very well done. And the overarching mystery across the books continues to tantalize as it slowly unfolds. Looking forward to the next audio!!