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Summary

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.

©2020 Gregory Ashe (P)2020 Gregory Ashe

What listeners say about Transactional Dynamics

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Brilliant

I love the characters. I love the story. I love the author. I adore the narrator. This series is by far the best on the market. I can't wait to listen to the next installment.

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ready to fight for hazard🤣

emery's ex is horrible. John-Henry is romantic af. emery is perfect. I found this one to be more about relationship drama than mystery. and there was even a visit from the borealis boys. absolutely loved it all.

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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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I wish I could give this audible book 6 stars

Coda: Well, I have now had the opportunity to listen to audible book as an advanced listener and I have to give this 6 stars.
I had already read the e-book and you can see my 5 star review below which still holds.

However, the audible book adds another dynamic. Tristan James and and Gregory Ashe are a dream team with James able to capture capture every emotion that Ashe writes perfectly; so that over the course of the book he heightens the joy, shame, humour, disgust, trust, fear and surprise that arise from this book. Hopefully not too long to wait for his interpretation of Wayward.

Ebook review
Gosh this was a hard read!. Not because it was poorly written but that with Hazard and Somerset, Gregory Ashe put us through the ringer as they continue to negotiate their relationship and learn more about one another. Yes, love is hard work. The Valentine's dinner scene being a case in point, both beautiful and excruciating.
Along with this we have Hazard's two exes caught up in the central criminal case. If you like to have characters to boo at, these two fit the bill for self-centred stupidity. However, it was good to see the guy from Borealis Investigations.
Am I up for the next book? Sure thing! Also, I do hope the audible book is out soon.

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  • C. Miranda
  • 08-12-21

Oh my aching heart

I swear these two are going to be the death of me! Some thoughts, I really hoped Billy would be beaten to a pulp, Valentine's dinner, yay - the killer was who I hoped it would be. Tristan James was excellent as usual. On to the next book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carol (bookish_notes)
  • 02-08-21

More angst, more pain

I’m finally writing a more detailed review for this book!! This is my fourth time reading this and it’s finally getting a review. I don’t know how that happened, but apparently I just like pain. So here we are.

Gregory Ashe is just very good at giving us an established couple and making them WORK for their HEA. He does this very well. The books end in a HFN, I feel. You think just because someone proposed, it’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows for the next couple of books? Think again. The fact that this series has contained mysteries in (relatively) short story arcs and still brings something new to the couple’s relationship with every book is what keeps me hooked.

While this book does not end with an immediate cliffhanger (everything is fine at the end between Hazard and Somers, but we don’t know who the Keeper of Bees is yet), there IS a cliffhanger in the excerpt for the following book (if you’re following along by text). But good news! Wayward is already out so you can just jump right into the next book after reading this one.

Content notes include homomisia, emotional abuse, violence, gaslighting, alcoholism, mentions of domestic abuse, threats of lying about rape, mentions of drug use, misogyny, dirty cops, mentions about sex work, and a minor character (a grandmother) with an illness.

This book made me an emotional wreck at times because Hazard and Somers have been together long enough to know how to push each other’s buttons and what to say to each other in the heat of an argument to really twist the knife. In this book, there’s a few mysteries going on. One involves the return of someone from Hazard’s past - Billy Rolker. Billy is a community theater actor and we know that he cheated on Hazard way back in book 1, and I guess we didn’t really have to think much about him since then. He’s shown up briefly in the Borealis series, but he’s mostly been out of Hazard’s life. Until now.

Billy is very manipulative and maybe even a psychopath. He knows exactly what to say and do to get Hazard riled up and he is intent to be a wedge between Hazard and Somers. Billy claims to want Hazard’s help and that he’s on the run from an ex (not the same guy he cheated on Hazard with) and now this ex is out to kill him.

In the middle of all this, North and Shaw are drawn into Wahredua as well. I think I would like a short or something (and I think there’s actually one in the works) where it’s nothing but Hazard, Somers, North, and Shaw all together. Might make for a very chaotic time. I love North and Shaw so it’s fun to see them in this book and to read about them from Hazard and Somers’s POV because it’s interesting to see someone on the outside witnessing North and Shaw’s constant (exasperating?) banter.

We don’t really get much headway with the Keeper of Bees story with this book. But what I think this book does is set up a situation where changes are coming to the police force. They’re getting exposed as corrupt cops so who is going to be left in the station?

Dulac is still Somers’s detective partner and he has an absurdly patient boyfriend at his side now (who we met in the last book). I don’t get that relationship and I guess I never will. That’s a mystery for another day.

One of the other mysteries in this book is one that Somers and Dulac has to investigate concern a murder outside the Pretty Pretty. It’s twisty but overall, not that interesting? I don’t know. I think I liked it on my first read, but by my fourth time reading this book, I find myself wanting to skip those scenes altogether and get back to the Hazard and Somers relationship drama.

The relationship part of this story is a lot of angst and a lot of pain. But at a level where I feel my heart breaking and then feeling like everything is alright by the end so it’s actually not too much pain? I don’t know. I think the author manages to always hit that perfect spot of angst for me in this series and it’s why I keep coming back to them again and again.

As for the audiobook, Tristan James does an amazing job as always. I remember the first time I ever heard an audiobook performed by him, I was just feeling okay about it but I wasn’t in love with it, you know? But now, I really feel like he is perfect and he really brings this series alive and I couldn’t imagine anyone else voicing Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset. It’s evident in the fact that I’ve listened to these audiobooks over and over again that I really love his performance and his work narrating this series! I love that Gregory Ashe was able to sign Tristan James on to produce all these audiobooks even after Tantor didn’t continue producing the books into audio. I highly recommend this series by audiobook if you’ve never tried!

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  • Eugenia
  • 04-08-21

<>Whoa! TENSION AHEAD!<>

Let’s sum it it: The one where Emery & John-Henry have relationship DRAMA.

(And there is also a murder & a crazy ex).

Usually, the interaction between the men lighten the heavy crimes they investigate, but here the snarky banter turned mean. We get to see both men work through their own issues & get on the same page at the end.

And of course, there is Gray Dulac with his nonstop, hilarious sex asides.

This was a solid thriller (I thought I had it figured out, but nooooooooo) & a fantastic depiction of the struggles couples face.

And as always, an impecable narration by Tristan James.

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 20-07-21

My fave couple drop in for a visit

North and Shaw! I was introduced to Gregory Ashe through the Orientation series, so I have a soft spot in my heart for these two men. Their sniping and griping and love. I was thrilled to see them drop by even if they bring trouble. Well, rather they’re following trouble. Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset have settled into a routine that’s working for them. Somers is still working with the Wahredua police department, Hazard’s PI business is slowly but steadily growing. Life raising their daughter is pretty sweet.

Until Hazard’s ex Billy shows up. And where Billy goes, trouble is sure to follow. He claims he’s running from an abusive ex – a story that’s sure to activate Hazard’s protective instincts. But all is not as it seems.

Then a woman gets murdered behind the Pretty Pretty – the local gay bar – and Somers gets drawn into a murder mystery. Where there are plenty of suspects, but very few answers. The victim has just as many secrets as everyone else in town and I have to say, I did not expect that dénouement.

And Billy? Well, let’s just say North and Shaw are persistent. I’ll also say that the scene with all of Hazard’s exes at the Pretty Pretty broke my heart. I wondered how Hazard and Somers were going to get past that. But then it’s Valentine’s Day and…well, that proved interesting as well. Life is never boring with these two.

Finally, Tristan James narrates this series and does it well. So well that I forgot that Charlie David narrates the Orientation series. Tristan does a great job with North and Shaw, just like Charlie does when Hazard and Somerset visit St. Louis. I love the little interactions with the series – Easter Eggs for us die hard fans. And I am a fan – off to the next book.

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  • MisMissyC
  • 18-05-21

This is a riveting series, consistantly good.

This is such a great series. Gregory Ashe has created a pair of majorly flawed men who manage to pull it together over and over when it counts. Love the mysteries, which keep me guessing. Not much mention of the keeper of the bees in this entry, which had a surplus of relationship angst between Ree and John.
And of course Tristan James is excellent in the narration.

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  • casrock
  • 26-01-21

Personal Touch

These two!! Well this one was even easier to read than the last. It was definitely more personal focused than on the mystery. It was definitely a nice change of pace and really helps round everything out. A book friend of mine told me that she wants to smack Somers around a lot during the series and I haven’t felt that way, until now. I wanted to punch him and make him be so sweet to Hazard. I adore Hazard. His character is amazing. We get personal time in this one as we revisit a couple of Hazard’s exes. They play a big role in this. And then we get a nugget of The Keeper of Bees killer, which really just keeps you on the hook. Overall another 5 star read!! Tristan does wonders on the audio per usual.

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  • Janet Gibson
  • 14-12-20

excellent

if you can get used to the 2 main characters (John & Em) its AWESOME!

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  • Rachel BPG
  • 16-11-20

Hazard and Somerset are the best!!

These books are so great!!! As usual the story and the narrator are perfect! I enjoyed seeing Shaw and North! Every time I listen to a Hazard and Somerset book, I think how is every book so good? I don’t think I’ve read any other series with this many books or even less books that are all so good!! I highly recommend all of the Hazard and Somerset books!!

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-09-20

Wow

This the best story in the series and I loved them all. The narration was excellent, portraying all the emotions of Hazard and Somerset. This story was a rollercoaster ride

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  • Sagrace
  • 16-08-20

Still Love ❤️ These Guys!

You would think after 10 books it would be more of the same...not at all. I love the fact I sometimes need to go back and hear a scene over again because the next seen referred to something unexpected.

The characters are getting more interesting and the relationship....well let’s just say I don’t want the throttle their necks like I did when I first “met” them!

And Hazard’s relationship with Evie (his step daughter) makes me smile every time! Let alone the relationship with Evie’s father!

I know there are more books in the series but that doesn’t make me want to get to the end...it makes me enjoy the ride!