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Summary

After almost 20 years, Emery Hazard finally has the man he loves. But things with his boyfriend and fellow detective, John-Henry Somerset, are never easy, and they’ve been more complicated lately for two reasons: Somers’s ex-wife and daughter. No matter what Hazard does, he can’t seem to get away from the most important women in his boyfriend’s life.

While Hazard struggles with his new reality (changing dirty diapers, just to start), a bizarre murder offers a distraction. John Oscar Walden, the leader of a local cult, is found dead by the police, and the case falls to Hazard and Somers. The investigation takes the two detectives into the cult’s twisted relationships and the unswerving demands of power and faith.

But the deeper Hazard looks into the cult, the deeper he must look into his own past, where belief and reason have already clashed once. And as Hazard struggles to protect the most vulnerable of Walden’s victims, he uncovers a deeper, more vicious plot behind Walden’s murder, and Hazard finds himself doing what he never expected: racing to save the killer.

Only, that is, if Somers doesn’t need him to babysit.

©2018 Gregory Ashe (P)2019 Gregory Ashe

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Angst overload

Goodness! These men are a mess! I'd hoped that things would calm a bit after the last book but the doubts and second guessing of each others intentions started to grate on me.
The case involved a cult and religion, two subjects that give me the heebie-jeebies. While I enjoyed the murder mystery aspect of the story and the new, unrestrained intimacy between Hazard and Somerset, the internal monologues became repetitive and dampened my enjoyment a little.
All in all, this was a very intense, angsty book, and the most difficult of the series so far.

1 person found this helpful

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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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The Story Continues.... brilliantly

Although this was a gift from the author - it is my honest review.

The romance between Emery and John-Henry continues in Reasonable Doubt. It's a mystery intertwined with the continued doubts both characters have about their new relationship. We get the story from both POV's - including their unspoken thoughts and worries they have about each other. WE know they are both deeply in love with each other but communicating that - not so much! It is exciting to see how the relationship continues to develop from enemies to lovers.

Book 5 is another involved/convoluted mystery and police procedural story. I loved it!. It has a great story line with humour that resulted in some real 'laugh out loud' moments. Gregory Ashe is one of my favourite authors - he is a great storyteller! And he does not disappoint in this book. There is a 'fullness' to the story which mean it has real depth.

It is not a quick listen (which, for me, is a bonus). Tristan James does another great job in narrating the story. When he reads it, the story comes to life. He has the skill to bring different voices to the characters which is so important. Only one observation. His voices for Emery and John-Henry are a bit alike at times. So... I did get a little confused about who was speaking, but only on a couple of occasions. Otherwise it was another success.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. It is great that we get to follow the same 2 characters thorough the 'adventures' they find themselves in. Reasonable Doubt is currently the penultimate book in the series. And a worthy book/audio to add to the collection is it too.

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  • Annika
  • 13-06-19

Back and forth...

I’ve been going round and round with Somers and Hazards for the previous four books. Not knowing what to think of them or their relationship. So this time I figured I’d go into this book with a clean slate and forget that I’ve had issues with them in the past for things that they either did/said or didn’t say or do. For the most part that actually worked. Then again this book brought its own set of issues and this time the mystery wasn’t enough to fully engage me.

This time around Hazard and Somers are investigating a murder in a cult. And investigating cults or within a cult is far from easy as they tend to be tightlipped, unfriendly and not willing to help. However the more they uncover about the people around the victim the stranger it all gets, and in the end they don’t really know who they are supposed to protect and who they’re going to arrest. As you might have guessed, there are many twists and turns in this murder investigation, and it also brings up painful memories of the past for Hazard, things he’d buried a long time ago.

Somers and Hazard are exhausting. They are finally in a relationship – with each other. A relationship they’ve both been longing for since high school. They are open about said relationship – to everyone but each other. What I mean is, we get a lot of internal monologues, and freak outs “what if he doesn’t love me” “Is he still in love with his ex?” “Will he go back to his ex and just haven’t told me” and so on. They haven’t really figured out that talking to each other might be an idea – admitting their feelings to others doesn’t seem to be an issue, but to each other… that’s a whole different story. Some of it was fine and fit, but some just created unnecessary drama and this constant back and forth got old real fast. That might just be me though, so don’t take it as gospel.

There is no doubt that Tristan James is vastly talented when it comes to audio narrations, I mean he almost has it all; different accents, voices and passion. And he’s also able to consistently keep them throughout the length of the book. Well for one exception, there was one (minor) character that when first arriving was talking with a lisp which seconds later magically disappeared. Sure it’s minor and easy to overlook, and personally I do prefer grownup characters to not have a lisp.

I haven’t decided yet if this is the time I part ways with this series or not, but I think it might just be. But then again listening to gay fiction instead of m/m romance is refreshing, so might just cave when the next audio is released and pick up the next one.

A copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review for Love Bytes.

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  • Giselle
  • 27-05-20

a bit repetitive.

I have enjoyed this series, and I do recommend it but I'm stopping here. The magic is missing, the chemistry lost. Poetic yes, but could have shortened it and covered the same territory. wonderful author but they ran out of steam with this series, sometimes that happens. Time to start fresh.

3 people found this helpful

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  • nikki
  • 14-07-19

Hazard & Somers keep getting better

I’m so invested in these two that I don’t think I could dislike any book about them. They’re together finally, but still working through some personal doubts and insecurities. The crime they’re solving in this one is straight up crazy with the religious fanatics. I adore Hazard’s love for Evie and I’m absolutely thrilled that Cora wasn’t written as the vindictive ex. The three of them trying to figure out how to co-parent is everything. Idk I really just love everything about this series

3 people found this helpful

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  • Cranky Reader
  • 30-07-20

least good of the series. unsatisfactory.

I’ve been glomming this series despite the main characters being cops, and doing all kinds of bad cop things, like minor abuses of power, while thinking they’re the good guys. Because they mostly are good guys. But they go off the rails in this installment. And nearly every person in the story is terrible or clinging to the edge of terrible by the thinnest margin.

Content warning: for abuse of teenagers, including sexual coercion, thoughts of abuse, & relived trauma. Anyone with any conversion therapy or brainwashing trigger should stay miles away from this.

This heart of the book kind of redeemed itself toward the end but…
(minor spoilers, no crucial reveals)
-it retconned a major messed up backstory for Hazard.
- Somers’s drinking is ignored utterly. At the end of the last book he’s nearly become an alcoholic. I did not need for him to become one and “hit rock bottom” since his rock bottom was admitting he wanted Hazard as a lover since that’s also his apex event, it could lead to a reduced dependency on alcohol. But he apparently stopped cold turkey and even in times of panic and peril doesn’t think once of using his primary learned coping mechanism of drinking? He drank enough that at 8 weeks out, he’s still going tp be thinking of booze as an option. But we don’t even see him have the thought and turn away from booze by choice. It’s magically solved.
- the guys can read each other like books except for their feelings toward each other which they get backwards and sideways and do anything to avoid addressing directly. Their fears here are ones that would prevent them getting together, not staying together. The end made it make more sense but it was a tired plotline that I thought was resolved already.
- it has the yet another “I finally realized how I felt about him” moment contingent on a yet another near death experience.
- the murders kept piling up and piling up and that never seemed to be enough to get all the cops to talk to each other. One would think they’d, at some point, have an all hands on deck meeting to share case knowledge with the entire force when murder 3 or 18 (or whatever the body count got to) popped up.
- It was a 12 person cult. How hard could it be to keep an eye on them? How many people can they kill? (If the were not white, they’d have been rounded up long before murder 2 or 3 or 12 happened.)
- They let Clyde get reabducted by the cult. I almost DNF’d right there. Then, despite thinking he was in immediate danger, H & S did not move heaven and earth to find him. Or even really think about him all that much. It was a whole catastrophe deserving of swear words, and no mistake, that was badly done. Honestly, I don’t know why I kept listening.
- unless I missed a timing change (can’t flip back to check dates easily on audio) Somers gets upset about a phone call before the phone call happens.
-Hazard is passively mean to Nico who isn’t even in this book. Just speak up, man. Say literally anything. Even I’m sorry. These guys just seethe with toxic masculinity and that they are trying to overcome that along with their internalized homophobia is what makes them worth the bother. When they keep doing mean things it makes me less likely to bother with them.
- Hazard spends pages not talking. Even when he calls 911, he never tries to say anything to help make sense of the situation, just gets jammed up in his head. And ok, he’s not a talker and it’s tense, but there were several obnoxious silences too many. I’m still mad Hazard made Somers feel bad about his birthday. And he should have found that dvd in his cleaning fugue.
- stalking behavior and jealous actions are still discussed, in some cases, as love. No. Abuse isn’t love. Stalking, for instance, is about power and wanting to own someone’s attention. It is not a sign of caring. It is selfish. There are at least 3 times when one of the numerous creepy bad actors is this mess could and should have been taken more seriously. The final time when Hazard tries to talk sense to them, but fails to disarm them, remove them, or even warn other people to be on guard about them was not enough. Just another time when cops think stalking isn’t a problem. Almost DNF’d there, too, but figured I’d read to the end.
- Through deliberate action, accident, inattention, and fighting, Hazard bleeds so much it’s a wonder he has skin and blood left to make it halfway through the book.
- Most people can tell roughly what time it is based on their routine or how hungry they are or the sun or shadows in a room or…
- I’m getting really tired of every other person in the book throwing slurs at H&S at every possible opportunity. I don’t care if it’s as realistic as them being obnoxious about not showing badges when asked and doing dangerous things in traffic. It feels excessive. As do the traffic related incidents.

I’m going to take a break from the series now. May or may not start it back up. The storytelling is engaging and the mysteries are more complex than most, for all that there is intensive navel gazing and a generally toxic atmosphere. It’s Somers & Hazard trying to overcome the toxicity of their past & environments that make them interesting. They don’t try hard enough not to be jerks in this installment. They even do deliberately wrong or mean things like play in traffic. No, I will not let that go. If they need to be obnoxious to each other, they can do it without risking other people’s lives.

Steam: Low. There are M/M encounters with some vague details. There is lots of frustrated teasing and smoldering looks. There are a few minor physical skirmishes that double as flirting but skirt the line of acceptable behavior.

Narration: Honestly I’m not too mad the narrator and editors phoned this one in. I wouldn’t want to spend extra time to fix all the mispronounced/substituted words either. The voices are still mostly right, but this was no one’s best work.

1 person found this helpful

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  • (Mimi) Johnson
  • 13-06-20

Love this series

I like Tristan James as a narrator. He did a great job with this series. I love this series. My only complaint is the level of bigotry and the vitriol that some of the characters spew. I kind of feel like the author could have expressed how ignorant the people were without all the name calling.

Having said that, the writing is great. I'm not a slow burn person but I loved this couple. One is a loveable butt and the other is a cheeky sometimes scared to act man.

This is my second go round on this series. the spinoffs for these books are just as good.
All in all great listen.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wild Pig
  • 14-02-20

A total and complete delight...

Gregory, you have put together an intriguing tale with twists and turns, philosophical quests, and just a plain old excellent piece of work! I commend you for the intricacy of the plot and the thought behind the many different aspects of life's questions. Your're writing is refreshing, as well as, intriguing. Bravo!

Tristan, no one else could do this like you. You are these characters and I so appreciate listening to your adorable tones and tenures...

Listener, get ready to listen because there are twists and turns that if you don't pay attention, you'll miss the story. You'll think, you'll feel, you'll laugh...and even though the best course of action is to listen to each book leading up to this one, I rarely ever say this, but you could listen to this one all on its own and find an excellent piece of work.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sam54
  • 21-09-21

Slow burn or smoldering mess?

The latter.
I like a slow burn but this goes a hundred miles over that line.
I like detail but the number of adjectives and the like are so distracting the storyline gets lost.
I like the two main characters but the author treats them like an afterthought, tucked in here and there, just enough to qualify it as an LGBT book.
I confess that I frequently cranked up the listening speed about 4 notches to get thru it.
Being more interested in Hazzard and Somers and their story, I was disappointed that so little of the book was devoted to them.
Narration was as good as this type of writing could allow. Great for snoozing, unfortunately.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tammy
  • 09-09-21

Love this series!!!

4.5 stars for me. This book was my favorites in the series. I absolutely loved best the tender moments between Somerset and Hazard and the thoughts Hazard had about their future. Hazard really showed his softer and nurturing side in this book and Somerset was the ever patient partner who gets Hazard like no one else can.
Have no fear, Hazard is still prickly to his co-workers so he's not getting that soft. LOL

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kara Miller
  • 06-09-21

Love it

I love this series so much. Honestly my only complaints are the repetitive comparisons. I was rolling my eyes whenever Somers eyes were compared to water-again. Hazard’s eyes were compared to scarecrows and autumn corn so many times I was surprised the narrator didn’t get annoyed.
With that being said—
This series is so raw and beautiful. Hazard needs to work on himself for sure but I feel as if he’s finally growing as a character and perhaps one day he won’t have blow out tantrums whenever he’s angry.
The mysteries are fun to follow and try to figure out based on context clues and the evidence they discover.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Carol (bookish_notes)
  • 02-08-21

Kind of confusing, very intense

This book took me OUT. It had me ugly crying late at night trying to finish the book. It broke my heart and slowly tried to piece it back together.

Trigger warnings for cults, violence, murder, homomisia, emotional manipulation, mentions of abuse, sex with underage teens, PTSD from conversion therapy, attempted murder of a child, suicide, and a parent with terminal cancer.

I did try to read the ebook for this. I really did. But I think the author’s words are too long and winding and convoluted for me to read in text form. It’s not to say that I don’t like the author’s writing. BECAUSE I DO. But. My attention span just really isn’t that great. That’s why the audiobooks are so fantastic. I really couldn’t have read these books otherwise. The story of Hazard and Somers is fantastic and I wanted to love the story. So I waited for Tristan James to narrate the audiobook and it was SO worth the wait.

Something that I love that this series is that it doesn’t make Cora into the evil ex-wife and her, Somers, and Hazard get along great. Hazard even takes up babysitting Cora and Somers’s kid really well and IT’S SO CUTE.

The mystery aspect of this book is confusing. I’m just along for the ride. There’s a lot of twists and turns. Maybe a bit too many. But I am weirdly interested in reading about cults, so the plot kept me entertained. The cult storyline is SUPER messed up and I feel so bad for everyone who was manipulated into the cult thinking they were loved and that their sacrifices were worth it.

BACK TO HAZARD AND SOMERS. I really liked that the past isn’t swept under the rug. There’s too much with what happened between Hazard and Somers back in high school for it to all truly go away. Hazard was deeply affected, both physically and emotionally, by the scars he carried with him since high school and that isn’t something that just goes away and I like that it’s something Hazard and Somers really need to talk through and not keep ignoring.

JUST ONE MORE BOOK TO GO. At least, in this story arc. I believe there’s supposed to be more Hazard and Somerset books down the line, but as far as this story arc goes, there’s only one more book! As always, the e-book is already out but I’ll be waiting for the audiobook because the audio is 100% worth the wait.